by Andre M. Perry
Brookings Institution Press
The deliberate devaluation of Blacks and their communities has had very real, far-reaching, and negative economic and social effects. An enduring white supremacist myth claims brutal conditions in Black communities are mainly the result of Black people's collective choices and moral failings. "That's just how they are" or "there's really no excuse" we've all heard those not so subtle digs.
But there is nothing wrong with Black people that ending racism can't solve. We haven't known how much the country will gain by properly valuing homes and businesses, family structures, voters, and school districts in Black neighborhoods. And we need to know.
Noted educator, journalist, and scholar Andre Perry takes readers on a tour of six Black-majority cities whose assets and strengths are undervalued. Perry begins in his hometown of Wilkinsburg, a small city east of Pittsburgh that, unlike its much larger neighbor, is struggling and failing to attract new jobs and industry. Bringing his own personal story of growing up in Black-majority Wilkinsburg, Perry also spotlights five others where he has deep connections: Detroit, Birmingham, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. He provides an intimate look at the assets that should be of greater value to residents--and that can be if they demand it.
Perry provides a new means of determining the value of Black communities. Rejecting policies shaped by flawed perspectives of the past and present, it gives fresh insights on the historical effects of racism and provides a new value paradigm to limit them in the future.Know Your Price demonstrates the worth of Black people's intrinsic personal strengths, real property, and traditional institutions. These assets are a means of empowerment and, as Perry argues in this provocative and very personal book, are what we need to know and understand to build Black prosperity.
"In this groundbreaking and important volume, Andre Perry brilliantly addresses the importance of fixing the racist governmental policies that have 'created housing, education, and wealth disparities, ' especially in Black communities. Not only a rigorous analysis of the dynamics of devaluation, Perry has written a powerful personal narrative that will captivate his readers." -Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
"In a book grounded in both personal testimony and rigorous empirical research, Perry writes compellingly about how Black folks have managed to navigate the systemic and structural impediments history has placed before us. Perry outlines in extraordinary detail what Black folks have been up against over the course of generations to help the reader understand that the contemporary landscape of inequality is no accident, but exist by design. Know Your Price is an important addition to any conversation about racial inequality in this country. This book is an essential tool to help refute the lies we have been told for so long." -Clint Smith, author of How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America
"In Know Your Price Dr. Perry lays bare the wretched tradition that devalues black bodies and black property. By writing from the inside out, he gives the facts and figures of redlining and subsequent gentrification, names and faces--their joys, desires, hopes, pain, agony, and despair. The writing itself is deft and heartfelt. It reads as if James Baldwin was a social scientist. Indeed, Dr. Perry has a word for our beleaguered democracy." -Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, associate fellow, Institute for Policy Studies
About the author:
Andre Perry is a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. His research focuses on race and structural inequality, education, and economic inclusion. Prior to his work at Brookings, Perry has been a founding dean, professor, award-winning journalist, and activist in the field of education.