GUEST: Thomas M. Shapiro, Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy at the Heller School at Brandeis University where he directs the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. He is the author of several books including The Hidden Cost of Being African American. He now joins me to discuss his newest book, Toxic Inequality: How America's Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide and Threatens Our Future
BACKGROUND: The United States is built on the mythology of a meritocracy - that is, if you work hard you can achieve your dreams. But this ideal leaves out historical and current inequalities, especially along racial lines. Study after study shows that if you start out as wealthy and white, you can achieve far more than if you start out as black and poor.
A study that is the basis of a new book tracked hundreds of American families, black and white, middle class and poor, over the course of many years. The book is called Toxic Inequality: How America's Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide and Threatens Our Future.