The Black Tax: 150 Years of Theft, Exploitation, and Dispossession in America (Hardcover)

The Black Tax: 150 Years of Theft, Exploitation, and Dispossession in America By Andrew W. Kahrl Cover Image
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Revealing a history that is deep, broad, and infuriating, The Black Tax casts a bold light on the racist practices long hidden in the shadows of America’s tax regimes.
American taxation is unfair, and it is most unfair to the very people who critically need its support. Not only do taxpayers with fewer resources—less wealth, power, and land—pay more than the well-off, but they are forced to fight for their rights within an unjust system that undermines any attempts to improve their position or economic standing. In The Black Tax, Andrew W. Kahrl reveals the shocking history and ruinous consequences of inequitable and predatory tax laws in this country—above all, widespread and devastating racial dispossession.

Throughout the twentieth century, African Americans acquired substantial amounts of property nationwide. But racist practices, obscure processes, and outright theft diminished their holdings and their power. Of these, Kahrl shows, few were more powerful, or more quietly destructive, than property taxes. He examines all the structural features and hidden traps within America’s tax system that have forced Black Americans to pay more for less and stripped them of their land and investments, and he reveals the staggering cost. The story of America’s now enormous concentration of wealth at the top—and the equally enormous absence of wealth among most Black households—has its roots here.

Kahrl exposes the painful history of these practices, from Reconstruction up to the present, describing how discrimination continues to take new forms, even as people continue to fight for their rights, their assets, and their power. If you want to understand the extreme economic disadvantages and persistent racial inequalities that African American households continue to face, there is no better starting point than The Black Tax.

About the Author

Andrew W. Kahrl is professor of history and African American studies at the University of Virginia. He is the author of the books The Land Was Ours and Free the Beaches.

Praise For…

“It is impossible to overstate the significance of The Black Tax. It is quite clearly one of the most important books of our time, bringing out into the open the shocking story of how the tax system has functioned in the past and continues today to be a key generator of racial injustice and inequality.”
— George Lipsitz, author of The Possessive Investment in Whiteness

The Black Tax is a meticulously researched gem that explores state and local tax policy as one of the root causes of the Black-white wealth gap. It chronicles the bravery of Black Americans who fought back against their treatment as second-class citizens while paying first-class taxes. After you read The Black Tax, you will never view tax policy debates the same way.”
— Dorothy Brown, author of The Whiteness of Wealth

The Black Tax changes forever how we will talk about property, racism, and the public's money. Kahrl’s timely book makes the complex political implications of unjust taxation simple and plain: Black people have been overpaying for America’s democracy. Reparations, long overdue, would merely be a refund.”
— N. D. B. Connolly, author of A World More Concrete

“A groundbreaking, revelatory account, The Black Tax shows how African American homeowners have been taxed differently than their white counterparts since the end of Reconstruction. This is a powerful book about race-based wealth redistribution and resistance, one that documents the systematic theft of Black tax revenues and property in a way that shatters long-standing American myths about the promise of homeownership.”
— William Sturkey, author of Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White

The Black Tax is a brilliant, sweeping, and damning investigation of the racist structures of local taxation that resulted in the legal theft of hundreds of billions in wealth and property from Black Americans over a century and a half. Kahrl’s book follows the money—from the Jim Crow South to the segregated urban North, from civil rights protests to Wall Street profiteering—to reveal how the exploitation of Black homeowners has long subsidized white communities and how this predatory system of racial capitalism continues today.”
— Matt Lassiter, author of The Suburban Crisis: White America and the War on Drugs

Product Details
ISBN: 9780226730592
ISBN-10: 022673059X
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: April 24th, 2024
Pages: 456
Language: English