Thomas M. Shapiro
|Born||April 24, 1947|
Los Angeles, California
Thomas M. Shapiro (born 1947) is a professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Brandeis University and is the author of The Hidden Cost of Being African American and the co-author of Black Wealth/White Wealth. Shapiro's current professional titles include the Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy and the Director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. The primary areas of focus for Shapiro's research and publications are racial inequality and public policy.
Thomas M. Shapiro was born in Los Angeles, California on April 24, 1947. He received his B.A. Degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1969. Shapiro went on to receive both his M.A. degree (1971) and Ph.D. (1978) from Washington University in St. Louis.
Thomas Shapiro's first book was Population Control Politics, published in 1985, which focused primarily on female sterilization, the welfare state, and public policy in the United States.
Shapiro co-authored Black Wealth/White Wealth with Professor Melvin L. Oliver, which was originally published in 1995; a tenth-anniversary edition was published in 2006. Black Wealth/White Wealth investigates racial inequality in the United States, however, what sets Black Wealth/White Wealth apart from the numerous other works on racial inequality from this time period is that Shapiro and Oliver examine racial inequality through the lens of wealth. The book demonstrates that a huge wealth gap exists between white and black Americans (according to the book, black families have, on average, 10 cents of wealth for every dollar white families have). Although the income gap between whites and blacks has narrowed, Shapiro and Oliver argue that the remarkable differences in wealth, and the impact that these differences have on housing, education, and more. Both also challenge the notion of growing equality between races in the United States.
Great Divides: Readings in Social Inequality in the United States is a textbook on American social inequality compiled by Thomas Shapiro with contributions from classical and contemporary writers. Great Divides has gone through three editions; the first was published in 1998, and the other two editions followed in 2001 and 2005. According to Shapiro, the purpose of Great Divides is to examine the barriers between groups and individuals and to evaluate the impact that these barriers have had, and continue to have, on American society. Additionally, and unlike existing readers on social inequality, Shapiro seeks to meld older, more famous texts (from authors such as Max Weber and W. E. B. Du Bois) with cutting-edge research on the subject of inequality, thereby creating a more comprehensive and challenging text for students.
In his 2004 publication The Hidden Cost of Being African American, Shapiro focuses on the importance of family wealth and the central role that it plays in passing down racial inequality from generation to generation in the United States. Drawing from interviews with 182 black, white and Latino families with school aged children in Boston, Los Angeles, and St. Louis, Shapiro argues that there continues to be a substantial racial wealth gap in the United States. Shapiro also claims that families lacking financial assets, characteristically the African American population, are hindered from becoming upwardly mobile in American society. 3/4 of the people that Shapiro interviewed were middle class and 1/4 were working class or poor. These same inherited, transformative assets are leveraged by whites, enabling them to take fuller advantage of economic opportunities and accumulate additional wealth, what many refer to as White privilege. This vicious cycle, Shapiro argues, has the effect of perpetuating and worsening racial inequality in the United States. Shapiro focuses on the "big picture" of wealth dynamics in the United States and explores how family money effects racial inequality. His book is organized around the ideas that inheritance and racial discrimination are making inequality between whites and African Americans worse. He coins the term "transformative assets" as money that is acquired through family that allows for social mobility beyond what their current income level would allow for. He shows that different starting lines of wealth for different people has a huge impact on inequalities and that race plays a huge role in determining your starting place. In terms of racial equality, inherited wealth and housing discrimination limit educational and employment gains which have a huge impact on social mobility.More narrowly, Shapiro also focuses on the advantages that transformative assets have on the value of housing and the subsequent quality of neighborhoods and schools, to the additional benefit of whites and disadvantage of blacks.
In his 2017 book, Toxic Inequality: How America's Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, & Threatens Our Future, Shapiro argues that wealth disparities and racial inequities must be understood in tandem. Following nearly two hundred families of different races and income levels over a period of twelve years, Shapiro's research vividly documents the recession's toll on parents and children, the ways families use wealth to manage crises and create opportunities, and the real reasons some families build wealth while others struggle in poverty.
Shapiro is married to Ruth Birnberg, and the couple has a son, Izak Shapiro.
Inheritance is the practice of receiving private property, titles, debts, entitlements, privileges, rights, and obligations upon the death of an individual. The rules of inheritance differ among societies and have changed over time. Officially bequeathing private property and/or debts can be performed by a testator via will, as attested by a notary or by other lawful means.
Redlining is a discriminatory practice in which services are withheld from potential customers who reside in neighborhoods classified as "hazardous" to investment; these neighborhoods have significant numbers of racial and ethnic minorities, and low-income residents. While the best-known examples involve denial of credit and insurance, also sometimes attributed to redlining in many instances are denial of healthcare and the development of food deserts in minority neighborhoods. In the case of retail businesses like supermarkets, the purposeful construction of stores impractically far away from targeted residents results in a redlining effect.
Economic inequality is an umbrella term for a) income inequality or distribution of income, b) wealth inequality or distribution of wealth, and c) consumption inequality. Each of these can be measured between two or more nations, within a single nation, or between and within sub-populations.
White privilege, or white skin privilege, is the societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people in some societies, particularly if they are otherwise under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. With roots in European colonialism and imperialism, and the Atlantic slave trade, white privilege has developed in circumstances that have broadly sought to protect white racial privileges, various national citizenships, and other rights or special benefits.
Racial steering refers to the practice in which real estate brokers guide prospective home buyers towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on their race. The term is used in the context of de facto residential segregation in the United States, and is often divided into two broad classes of conduct:
The African-American middle class consists of African-Americans who have middle-class status within the American class structure. It is a societal level within the African-American community that primarily began to develop in the early 1960s, when the ongoing Civil Rights Movement led to the outlawing of de jure racial segregation. The African American middle class exists throughout the United States, particularly in the Northeast and in the South, with the largest contiguous majority black middle-class neighborhoods being in the Washington, DC suburbs in Maryland. The African American middle class is also prevalent in the Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Dallas, New York, San Antonio and Chicago areas.
Oppositional culture, also known as the "blocked opportunities framework" or the "caste theory of education", is a term most commonly used in studying the sociology of education to explain racial disparities in educational achievement, particularly between white and black Americans. However, the term refers to any subculture's rejection of conformity to prevailing norms and values, not just nonconformity within the educational system. Thus many criminal gangs and religious cults could also be considered oppositional cultures.
Black capitalism is a political movement among African Americans, seeking to build wealth through the ownership and development of businesses. Black capitalism has traditionally focused on African-American businesses, although some critics and activists have also pushed for increased representation of Blacks in corporate America.
The inequality of wealth has substantially increased in the United States in recent decades. Wealth commonly includes the values of any homes, automobiles, personal valuables, businesses, savings, and investments, as well as any associated debts.
In the United States, housing segregation is the practice of denying African Americans and other minority groups equal access to housing through the process of misinformation, denial of realty and financing services, and racial steering. Housing policy in the United States has influenced housing segregation trends throughout history. Key legislation include the National Housing Act of 1934, the G.I. Bill, and the Fair Housing Act. Factors such as socioeconomic status, spatial assimilation, and immigration contribute to perpetuating housing segregation. The effects of housing segregation include relocation, unequal living standards, and poverty. However, there have been initiatives to combat housing segregation, such as the Section 8 housing program.
Housing inequality is a disparity in the quality of housing in a society which is a form of economic inequality. The right to housing is recognized by many national constitutions, and the lack of adequate housing can have adverse consequences for an individual or a family. The term may apply regionally, temporally or culturally. Housing inequality is directly related to racial, social, income and wealth inequality. It is often the result of market forces, discrimination and segregation.
Housing discrimination in the United States refers to the historical and current barriers, policies, and biases that prevent equitable access to housing. Housing discrimination became more pronounced after the abolition of slavery in 1865, typically as part of Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation. The federal government didn't begin to take action against these laws until 1917, when the Supreme Court struck down ordinances prohibiting blacks from occupying or owning buildings in majority-white neighborhoods in Buchanan v. Warley. However, the federal government as well as local governments continued to be directly responsible for housing discrimination through redlining and race-restricted covenants until the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
In the United States, despite the efforts of equality proponents, income inequality persists among races and ethnicities. Asian Americans have the highest median income, followed by White Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans. A variety of explanations for these differences have been proposed—such as differing access to education, two parent home family structure, high school dropout rates and experience of discrimination and deep-seated and systemic anti-Black racism—and the topic is highly controversial.
Racial inequality in the United Statesof America identifies the social inequality and advantages and disparities that affect different races within the country. These can also be seen as a result of historic oppression, inequality of inheritance, or racism and prejudice, especially against minority groups.
Structural inequality occurs when the fabric of organizations, institutions, governments or social networks contains an embedded cultural, linguistic, economic, religious/belief, physical or identity based bias which provides advantages for some members and marginalizes or produces disadvantages for other members. This can involve, personal agency, freedom of expression, property rights, freedom of association, religious freedom,social status, or unequal access to health care, housing, education, physical, cultural, social, religious or political belief, financial resources or other social opportunities. Structural inequality is believed to be an embedded part of all known cultural groups. The global history of slavery, serfdom, indentured servitude and other forms of coerced cultural or government mandated labour or economic exploitation that marginalizes individuals and the subsequent suppression of human rights are key factors defining structural inequality. In particular the history of oppression of the Jewish people, as victims of historic and ongoing antisemitism that dates back to their slavery under the Pharaohs offer an example of the historic nature and wide variance of structural inequality.
Socioeconomic mobility in the United States refers to the upward or downward movement of Americans from one social class or economic level to another, through job changes, inheritance, marriage, connections, tax changes, innovation, illegal activities, hard work, lobbying, luck, health changes or other factors.
Social mobility in South Africa refers to the movement of South Africans from one social class to another. it is the study of upward socio-economic change in status achievable by South Africans from generation to generation.
Black land loss in the United States refers to the loss of land ownership and rights by Black people residing or farming in the United States. In 1862, the United States government passed the Homestead Act. This Act gave certain Americans seeking farmland the right to apply for ownership of government land or the public domain. This newly acquired farmland was typically called a homestead. In all, more than 160 million acres of public land, or nearly 10 percent of the total area of the United States was given away free to 1.6 million homesteaders. However, until the United States abolished slavery in 1865 and the passage of the 14th amendment in 1868, enslaved and free Blacks could not benefit from these acts. According to data published by the National Park Service and the University of Nebraska, some 6000 homesteads of an average of 160 acres were issued to Blacks in the years immediately following the war.
Institutionalized discrimination refers to the unjust and discriminatory mistreatment of an individual or group of individuals by society and its institutions as a whole, through unequal selection or bias, intentional or unintentional; as opposed to individuals making a conscious choice to discriminate. It stems from systemic stereotypical beliefs that are held by the vast majority living in a society where stereotypes and discrimination are the norm . Such discrimination is typically codified into the operating procedures, policies, laws, or objectives of such institutions. Members of minority groups such as populations of African descent in the U.S. are at a much higher risk of encountering these types of sociostructural disadvantage. Among the severe and long-lasting detrimental effects of institutionalized discrimination on affected populations are increased suicide rates, suppressed attainment of wealth and decreased access to health care.
Baby bonds are a government policy in which every child receives at birth a publicly funded trust account, potentially with more generous funding for lower-income families. Economists William Darity and Darrick Hamilton proposed the policy in 2010 as a mechanism to reduce the racial wealth gap in the United States. A 2019 analysis of the proposal by Naomi Zewde projects that baby bonds would reduce the median racial wealth gap between white and black young Americans from a factor of 16 to a factor of 1.4.