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As with all of our book of the month selections, I’m especially excited about our next entry. As a black-owned business we are committed to informing and educating families of color. The past year’s challenges have brought many of the challenges that have long been espoused by the African American community and other POC communities in terms of systemic racism from police brutality, workplace discrimination, housing discrimination, and other after effects that are ingrained in American society due to Jim Crow.
It’s in researching how all of this that went ignored by much of America’s mainstream thinking – which is now finding a place where more African Americans now have a solid platform to further discuss and affect change that we came across this wonderful book, “The Whiteness of Wealth”, written by Emory University School of Law professor Dorothy A. Brown. In this wonderfully deep, but easy to read take on how systemic racism has formed the foundation of the American tax system to enhance the wealth of white Americans at the expense of the black community. It’s a book we highly recommend black families should have on their shelves to read and study.
We advise that along with the book, you can also pick up this 43 page unofficial workbook, where you can utilize these features alongside your reading:
• Succinct breakdown of the book categorized into major lessons
• Read and use the exercises yourself or as a group
• Easy-to-understand analysis of each lessons distilled for even the newest of readers
• Simple and practical worksheets to further reader’s application
• Quiz questions as a resource to be used for yourself or others
College and Workplace Challenges
On of my favorite chapters of the book is chapter 4 “The Best Jobs”, where Prof. Brown gives a deeper look at just how difficult it can be for black college graduates (even those graduating from an HBCU) to close the racial wealth gap for themselves. We find that occupational segregation, while illegal – still influences much of the decisions employers make within companies and across industries. My own story comes to mind when reading this chapter. I formally worked for a Whole Foods Market store in the Pacific NW, and for the first year or two I thought it was a company that truly fostered an atmosphere of true diversity… that is until I tried to work my way up into store leadership.
Despite all of my hard work and ambition to do more than just stock shelves I began seeing unnecessary blocks to my advancement that were subtly discriminating. With no solid proof I was being discriminated against, I was left to continue trying until I eventually felt too burnt out to care. I remember, in one attempt to become a Team trainer that a white team member that had given his two weeks notice was given the role over me. What’s even sadder, both of us were confused as to how that happened as I was the individual that trained him for the grocery dept. There were even instances of my performance being judged on a different standard as my white counterparts, and repeatedly given lower raises (Whole Foods Market raises were almost always guaranteed, unless you were truly a horrible team member). You can hear more about my experiences there along with other former WFM team members here.