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Know Your Price

Valuing Black Lives and Property in America's Black Cities

Andre M. Perry (author)

ISBN: 9780815737278

Publication Date: May 2020

Format: Hardback

Demonstrates through rigorous research and thorough analysis the worth of Black people's intrinsic strengths, real property, and traditional institutions. All of these assets are means of empowerment, as Andre Perry argues for shifting away from simplified notions of equality and moving towards maximizing equity.

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Changing perceptions about the worth of African Americans and their communities.

Know Your Price establishes new means of determining value of Black communities. The deliberate devaluation of Blacks and their communities, stemming from America's centuries-old history of slavery, racism, and other state-sanctioned policies like redlining have tangible, far-reaching, and negative economic and social impacts. Rejecting policies shaped by flawed perspectives, the book gives fresh insights on these impacts and provides a new value paradigm to limit them.

In the book, noted educator, journalist, and scholar Andre Perry takes readers on a guided tour of five Black-majority cities whose assets and strengths are undervalued. Perry begins the tour 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. Perry gives an overview of Black-majority cities and spotlights four where he has a deep connection to—Detroit, New Orleans, Birmingham and Washington, D.C.—providing an intimate look at the assets residents should demand greater value from.

Know Your Price demonstrates through rigorous research and thorough analysis the worth of Black people's intrinsic strengths, real property, and traditional institutions. All of these assets are means of empowerment, as Perry argues for shifting away from simplified notions of equality and moving towards maximizing equity.


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

“Birmingham understands that developing trust in communities that have been historically discriminated against requires time, energy and partnership. As mayor, I work in the building where the city's red-lining maps were once drawn. This book calls on city leaders to think and act systematically to begin dismantling systemic racism. In Birmingham, we are working for economic justice and racial inclusion because of our history, not in spite of it.”—Randall L. Woodfin, mayor, Birmingham, Alabama

“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

Know Your Price is a purposeful, in-depth, and critical examination of the pathology of racism, classism, and the self-destructive impact of American indifference. But what Dr. Perry so skillfully illuminates is the culture of exercising our right of self-determination that has served generations of African Americans as a means of survival in the face of the most virulent, violent, and discriminatory social order. Know Your Price brings solutions to the table, not merely voicing dissent to the status quo. It's a gift of understanding that the one variable a person controls in a dysfunctional paradigm is their contribution to it, without absolving those who are the source of that dysfunction. Personal, powerful, and profound, Know Your Price is a display of Dr. Perry's brilliant analytical mind as a researcher, and the heart of a man who speaks with the passion and intimate knowledge of the world he creates in this book.”—Wendell Pierce, actor, producer, activist

“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 Counting Descent

“A powerful indictment of a white culture that persistently blames the victims of racism for the consequences of oppression, Know Your Price is also a hopeful and moving celebration of Black resilience. Its meticulously researched case for better scholarship and an end to racist policy should be must-reading for American policymakers and the people who put them in office.”—Grant Oliphant, president, The Heinz Endowments

“Black women have long known how to build and grow community despite others' negative perceptions of value. This book illustrates beautifully for the rest of the world how perceived value and gendered racism in policies is killing us.”—Alexis McGill Johnson, co-founder, Perception Institute; acting CEO, Planned Parenthood

“This memoir is not another self-aggrandizing voyeuristic presentation of hood triumph. Rather it is a brave, honest, and analytically insightful understanding of dignity and worth and challenge to society's myopic devaluation of black people and communities. This book is one of a kind and Andre Perry is a national treasure. In both persona and scholarship, he exemplifies the clear and convincing case of why diversity and inclusion matter.”—Darrick Hamilton, executive director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity; professor, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University.
Illustrations 10 illustrations
Pages 224
Dimensions 229 x 152
Date Published 30 May 2020
Publisher Brookings Institution Press
Subject/s Economics   Public administration   Ethnic studies   Urban & municipal planning   Social discrimination   Constitution: government & the state  
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction The Assets of Home
  • 1. Who Runs the City
  • 2. A Father Forged in Detroit
  • 3. Buy Back the Block
  • 4. A Different Kind of School
  • 5. The Apologies We Owe to Students and Teachers
  • 6. Having Babies Like White People
  • 7. For the Sake of America, Elect a Black Woman President
  • 8. "This city will be chocolate at the end of the day."
  • Notes
  • Index
Andre Perry is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. His research focuses on race and structural inequality, education, and economic inclusion. Perry has written on urban development and education for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation and in his weekly column for The Hechinger Report.

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