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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking exposé of racism in the American taxation system from a law professor and expert on tax policy

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by NPR and Fortune

“Important reading for those who want to understand how inequality is built into the bedrock of American society, and what a more equitable future might look like.” (Ibram X. Kendi, number one New York Times best-selling author of How to Be an Antiracist)

Dorothy A. Brown became a tax lawyer to get away from race. As a young black girl growing up in the South Bronx, she’d seen how racism limited the lives of her family and neighbors. Her law school classes offered a refreshing contrast: Tax law was about numbers, and the only color that mattered was green. But when Brown sat down to prepare tax returns for her parents, she found something strange: James and Dottie Brown, a plumber and a nurse, seemed to be paying an unusually high percentage of their income in taxes. When Brown became a law professor, she set out to understand why.

In The Whiteness of Wealth, Brown draws on decades of cross-disciplinary research to show that tax law isn’t as color-blind as she’d once believed. She takes us into her adopted city of Atlanta, introducing us to families across the economic spectrum whose stories demonstrate how American tax law rewards the preferences and practices of white people while pushing black people further behind. From attending college to getting married to buying a home, black Americans find themselves at a financial disadvantage compared to their white peers. The results are an ever-increasing wealth gap and more black families shut out of the American dream.

Solving the problem will require a wholesale rethinking of America’s tax code. But it will also require both black and white Americans to make different choices. This urgent, actionable book points the way forward.

©2021 Dorothy A. Brown (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“In The Whiteness of Wealth, Brown brings the American tax code to life. Hands shape it and wield it like a shield in the defense of the most powerful among us. The tax code tells a story about American priorities. The news isn’t good, Brown writes, but there’s still time to change the future.” (New York

“[An] accessible and lively...primer on how wealth works in America.” (Bloomberg Businessweek

“This book is a tour de force. With clarity and conviction, Dorothy Brown reveals how US tax policy sustains and deepens the wealth gap between black and white Americans. As I read The Whiteness of Wealth, I found myself shaking my head as I eagerly turned the pages and shouting ‘damn’ with each revelation. If we are finally to address the long history of racism in this country, we must grapple with the arguments of Brown’s powerful book. This is a must read for these troubling times.” (Eddie S. Glaude Jr., New York Times best-selling author of Begin Again and Democracy in Black

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What listeners say about The Whiteness of Wealth

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Thought provoking and very accessible

It has been a couple of weeks since I finished The Whiteness of Wealth by Dorothy Brown. This was a great read/listen and very provocative. It has taken me this long to process my thoughts and feelings. I was equally energized and depressed at the end of this book. The book discusses how US tax policy perpetuates the wealth gap because the tax policy and code has been driven primarily by how white Americans live and manage their lives. Yes, there are generalizations in this book that some people may not relate to at all and will feel this book has it all wrong or that the differences are all due to personal choices. Despite those critiques, I believe the core of the book is spot on. If you don't believe the tax code isn't race neutral after this book, you don't want to know it.
The policy changes that would have to be made to neutralize or reverse the impacts noted are daunting, but at least I know what we're facing.

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Concrete examples of systemic racism

Systemic racism is everywhere; however, this helped shine a light on many concrete examples that don’t make the headlines. The far-reaching implications for generations of BIPOC but specifically African-Americans ultimately affect all of us and the sooner we can change the system, the better. I feel better equipped to advocate for reforms. Thank you, Professor Brown!

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Manipulation

Her depictions of weathy whites and poor blacks is to put simply....crap. My dad worked days, my mom worked nights. I am very white (Italian) worked my way through a California State College, while living at home, received a degree in accounting, passed the CPA, and find her arguements about tax code unsubstantiated......she is equating economic unequality is based on the tax code. I will assume her statistics are accurate, but does nothing to look for real causes.....she decided what her outcome was and trying to find arguments to support them and it is not working. Minority's are crapped on (including Women) not given the same opportunities but it is not the tax code doing it.

3 people found this helpful

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A must "read" for all Americans!

Truth can sometimes be difficult to hear but it always resonates if you remain open to the continual aquisition of knowledge towards objective truth.

This book drives truth through historical accounts and data. It can sometimes be a little overwhelming to listen to at times and may be better served with a hard copy. Nonetheless, it's a fascinating and introspective listen/read that allows one to reflect on the generational entitlement that is undoubtedly supported by the unfiltered history of this nation.

Kudos to the author and the narrator on a job very well done!

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Eye-opening

This book does an amazing analysis and spotlight on how thoroughly broken our tax system is for black americans. Must read for all.

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great tax info. 0 understanding of wealth

most of the arguments in the book are based of a set of assumptions about wealth that have repeatedly been disproved by the research done on affluent households. we have 45 years worth of case studies and data on million dollar net worth households from 'the millionaire next door' to the largest study of millionaires (those with wealth) conducted by Chris Hogan for the book 'everyday millionaire'. all of the arguments layed out in the book for both advantages of white individuals and the disadvantages of black individuals don't even kind of match up with the data on wealthy households. this is the trap I think author's fall into when they start with a conclusion and try to work backwards instead of compiling data/information and drawing conclusion based on what the information suggests. would not recommend

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Eye Opening

This has been one of the most eye opening books on race and wealth that I have ever read/listened to. The author uses facts and history to help explain why the tax system continues to create disparities in wealth. This book should be required reading for schools.

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Wow!! A Revelation

This book reveals all the hidden and unacknowledged ways that our tax system benefits white people and disadvantages black people. Not only is the information so needed at this time, the book is also entertaining. The combination of stories and analysis is marvelous.

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Great audiobook. Truly eye opening! Must read

This audiobook was amazing! The author explains in detail how racism is in everything we do rather one believes it or not. Racism is involved in every part of black lives.

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Eyes "white" opened

Well researched and written. Dorothy Brown breaks open opaque tax policy in manner that shines light on ongoing and persistent economic inequality experienced by Black Americans. Basically, she conducts a thorough tax audit on whiteness.