The Color of Money

By Mehrsa Baradaran,

Book cover of The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap

Book description

"Read this book. It explains so much about the moment...Beautiful, heartbreaking work."
-Ta-Nehisi Coates

"A deep accounting of how America got to a point where a median white family has 13 times more wealth than the median black family."
-The Atlantic

"Extraordinary...Baradaran focuses on a part of the American story…


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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Color of Money as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is one of my all-time favorite books! It was given to me by my nephew Kareem, in 2018. I have read it cover to cover, twice. My handwritten notes are on over 50% of the pages. 

The research that Baradarian put into this book is unparalleled. The book is chockful of facts and data that I never knew about Black history. For example, her research uncovered the fact that the forty acres of land that were to go to the 4 million formerly enslaved Black people after the Civil War was to be sold, not given to Blacks at…

While researching my book, I saw how some residents in poor Black neighborhoods protected and revered monied drug dealers who gave back to their communities. Baradaran’s The Color of Money explains the stark racial wealth gap behind this dynamic. I learned, for example, about the Freedman’s Bank, created to help newly freed slaves build wealth. While White bankers exhorted Black people to limit their spending to build savings, these same bankers made risky railroad and real estate investments. These investments ultimately spelled the demise of the bank – and of the hard-earned savings of its Black customers. And White…

During the summer of 2020, you heard a lot of people talking about supporting Black businesses and a general valorization of Black businesspeople—past and present.  Yet, the realities of what Black businesses can and can’t do to bridge the racial gap were rarely explored.  This book’s examination of Black banks—once-storied institutions in the era of Jim Crow—calls into question whether reviving or even endowing these entities can actually promote racial and economic justice.

From Marcia's list on racial capitalism.

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