In this ... compelling book, Thomas M. Shapiro … shows how wealth and race compound historic injustices through their combined effects on housing, schools and colleges, employment, and politics. Everyone concerned about the toxic effects of inequality must read this book.
— Robert B. Reich, author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few

Tom's Author Essay featured by Powell's Books

Adapted Excerpt featured in Alternet

“Shapiro makes it clear that many people suffer due to circumstances well beyond their control—they do everything right and still end up on the wrong side of the ledger—and that the country could afford to address this by refocusing its priorities. A strong case that deserves a wider readership than just policy wonks.”—Kirkus Review

 Full Kirkus review, December 26, 2016

How America's Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide & Threatens our Future

Since the Great Recession, most Americans' standard of living has stagnated or declined. Economic inequality is at historic highs. But inequality's impact differs by race. African Americans' net wealth is just a tenth that of white Americans. In recent decades, the wealth divide between white and African-American families has tripled. In our increasingly diverse nation, sociologist and acclaimed author Thomas M. Shapiro argues, wealth disparities must be understood in tandem with racial inequities—a dangerous combination he terms “toxic inequality.”

In Toxic Inequality, Shapiro reveals how these forces combine to trap families in place. Following nearly 200 families of different races and income levels over a period of 12 years, Shapiro's research vividly documents inequality’s toll on parents and children, the ways families use assets to manage crises and create opportunities, and the real reasons some families advance while others struggle in poverty. The structure of our neighborhoods, workplaces, and tax code — much more than individual choices — push some forward and hold others back. A lack of assets, far more common in families of color, often undermines parents' hard work and ruins careful plans for themselves and their children.

Toxic inequality is not inevitable. America's growing wealth gap and its deepening racial divide have been forged by history and preserved by policy, and only bold, race-conscious reforms can move us toward a more just society.

More Advance Praise for TOXIC INEQUALITY

… indispensable book…revealing the truth about escalating racial inequality in America
— Heather C. McGhee, President, Demos
Shapiro brilliantly analyzes the most important economic challenge of our time... razor-sharp insights and poignant personal stories.
— Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and former Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times
This is one of the most thought-provoking books I have read on economic inequality in the US…penetrating analysis and bold policy prescriptions make Toxic Inequality a must-read.
— William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University
Toxic Inequality calls it like it is. People of color and low-income communities are ensnarled in a web of poisonous economic disparities and structural racial inequities that prevent wealth-building, erode home ownership, limit education and job possibilities, and stall mobility...
— Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO, PolicyLink
Deftly blending facts and figures with moving personal stories, this book reveals how severe inequality is, why it matters, and what we can do about it.
— George Lipsitz, author of The Possessive Investment in Whiteness

Get Involved

Join the racial wealth gap discussion on Twitter and LinkedIn: