Podcast Transcript 295: Valuing Black Lives and Property

October 28, 2020

In this episode, we’re joined by Andre Perry, Metropolitan Policy Fellow at the Brookings Institution, to talk about his new book Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities. Perry talks with us about growing up in suburban Wilkinsberg, Penn., and how he crunched the numbers of Black property devaluation in U.S. cities.

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The full transcript for Episode 295 is below:

JW (0s):
You’re listening to the Talking Headways Podcast Network. This is Talking Headways, a weekly podcast about sustainable transportation and urban design. I’m Jeff Wood. This week, we’re joined by Andre Perry, metropolitan policy fellow at Brookings to talk about his new book, “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities” Stay with us.

Well, Andre Perry, welcome to the Talking Headways podcast.

AP (29s):
Hey, thanks for having me.

JW (1m 57s):
So before we get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

AP (2m 18s):
Yeah. I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was raised in a small municipality surrounded by Pittsburgh on three sides, a place called Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. And as the story goes, as I tell in my book, that there was the deal made between my maternal grandmother and a woman by the name of Elsie Boyd. And they made a deal that I would be taken home from the hospital when I was born, to this older woman’s home. My mother was probably abused—she was certainly poor—and it was determined that I would stay in this house. And eventually I did go to the home. My older brother came along as well, and clearly I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to stay for a few weeks, a few months, but I ended up staying in this home till I graduated from high school.

AP (3m 9s):
And along the way, this woman, Elsie Boyd, reared about a dozen or more kids of similar circumstances. And that sort of situates the story of my book. I talk about how I grew up in this Black majority city that a had a lot going for it when I was a young child. It had, it had parks, nearby universities, a great transportation hub, it had a retail corridor, a corporation nearby, had all the bones for investment, but as the percentage of Black people increase in the percentage of white people decrease, you started to see less investment.

AP (3m 50s):
And so my book is largely about looking at the assets in Black majority cities that are worthy of investment but are devalued by racism. So I generally look at the impact of race on the valuation of assets in Black communities.

JW (4m 9s):
What got you first interested in cities and then devaluation after that?

AP (4m 12s):
Yeah, you know, at first, got interested more in policy. You know, one of my first courses in college, I learned about the Moynihan report, the report that essentially looked at the conditions of Black America, and certainly it had a robust structural analysis, but it also set a horrible precedent of blaming Black women’s marital behaviors for poverty. And that put me on this trajectory of examining policy, something I still examine today, that my upbringing was seen as deviant in the mind of many policymakers, that the woman who raised me was supposedly putting me in harm’s way. My biological mother and grandmother supposedly put me in harm’s way.

AP (4m 56s):
But when you were reared in a place like Wilkinsburg, you know that the norms that dictate our lives or my life are not the same norms that were present in mainstream America. But the way I was raised was certainly not deviant. It was a protective mechanism, given the conditions around me. I grew up in Pittsburgh and at the time, I was born in 1970, at the time the steel mills started to leave Pittsburgh and you started to see economic decline. And so, as many people know, when the unemployment rate for whites go up, the unemployment rate for Blacks go way up. As it’s stated, when white people catch a cold, Black people catch pneumonia—or COVID.

AP (5m 38s):
You know, I was raised in a family that was devalued, but I’ve also come to learn that many of the assets that are proximate to Black people are also devalued, including homes, including cities. So that is part and parcel the kind of research that I do.

JW (5m 58s):
So I’ve been to Wilkinsburg. I also looked up 1320 Hill on Google Maps just to see where it was. I did a little bit of a workout there with NRDC a number of years ago. And you know, when we went there, we were told that many of the houses couldn’t get loans even if you wanted to fix them up. So I guess the city owns a number of the places, and the city now owns the place where you used to live you mentioned in the book. How did those kinds of structural disinvestment compound over time?

AP (6m 23s):
We all know that housing equity is a critical source for families to start businesses, to send their kids to college, to move to a better neighborhood. But when that equity is systematically devalued, you lack the resources to lift yourself up. And so the inability to invest in a neighborhood essentially dooms it. And so places like Wilkinsburg represent a number of places where there’s actually decent housing stock homes that can be repaired, fixed up and moved into, but banks won’t back them. And so we clearly need loan products and different credit scoring systems to enable people to move into homes, to develop wealth, to pass that wealth onto their children, or we’re going to live with these inequities.

AP (7m 17s):
And, by the way, we always have to remember that many of the reasons why homes in Black majority cities are devalued is because of policy. The practices born of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation in the 30s and the practice of red lining, which occurred throughout the 20th century, officially ending in the 70s. That practice of red lining essentially devalued Black neighborhoods. And clearly there was a material loss, but it also created a practice of downgrading Black assets. And so when, whenever you see assets in Black neighborhoods, we tend to just automatically devalue them.

AP (7m 58s):
And then in a housing context that shows up in tax assessments, it shows up in appraisals, it shows up in real estate agent behavior and lending practices. And so my goal is to eliminate those dregs of racism in housing and other markets, so that we can really see the value of Black assets. And then we can see investments into those assets because many of the homes, businesses and infrastructure are definitely worthy of investment.

JW (8m 30s):
Something that came up in the book, how is it that value is created in places like East Liberty but not other neighborhoods such as Wilkinsburg and Larimer? The places like East Liberty get investments and the other places that seem like they have the same bones and they have the same access to transportation, et cetera, don’t.

AP (8m 45s):
Yeah. You know, I used to be a cross country runner, and I would run down the main drag, Penn Avenue. And because Wilkinsburg was so close to Pittsburgh, I didn’t know when I’d cross over to Pittsburgh, except for the smell of cookies. There was a Nabisco cookie factory inside of Pittsburgh, right on the Pittsburgh border. And when you would run there, oh, you would smell the vanilla wafers and you’d go, “Oh, I’m in Pittsburgh.” But everything else the same. You know, it was a Black majority area so you saw plenty of Black people, you saw students, Black workers. And early on, it was thriving.

AP (9m 26s):
I took that same running route as a much heavier older person, 30 something, 40 something years later. And many of the assets are still there. The main drag is there, businesses are not thriving. There’s, you know, financial institutions that aren’t necessarily good for the community, fast food, things like that. But when you run down the drag and you get closer to the Pittsburgh, you don’t smell cookies, but you see a lot of white people and that’s telling you you’re in Pittsburgh. But the reason why you’re seeing it is because of the Google headquarters that is now in that former Nabisco cookie factory. And you see wonderful investments in the area—fancy restaurants, new retail, parks, recreational activities.

AP (10m 10s):
Everything that I used to see in Wilkinsburg is now in that part of East Liberty, and it just ends at the Pittsburgh border seemingly. And it’s interesting, I talk a lot about placemaking and clustering, those terms economic developers use when describing the deliberate effort to concentrate resources in a particular area to maximize growth. But when you don’t include people from the community, placemaking looks nothing different than the various segregational practices of the past.

AP (10m 52s):
And that’s what I talk abou. That inclusion really means that we need the community involved and at the start of any kind of placemaking endeavor, because there’s such a low number of Black and Brown planners in their perspective fields. Architects for instance, have about 2% of Black people in the field. So you absolutely need the input from Black residents, business owners, Black institutional leaders, when trying to make over a place. But that didn’t happen, and therefore you see a place that was built for the employees of Google. And why that’s important: wages in the area essentially have stagnated for the ancillary or supportive industries in the area.

AP (11m 40s):
So Black retail, it’s stagnated. Wages for low skill work: stagnated or even decreased in some situations. And so the promise of big tech coming to town did not necessarily bring benefits to the community, especially if you don’t plan it. And so in the future, if we’re going to see more of these gambits, like we saw with Amazon and other competitions, the mayors are going to have to have their own game—demand inclusion from start to finish.

JW (12m 14s):
Yeah, you briefly discussed the corporate incentives like Amazon’s, and I’m wondering how much those bidding wars play into the devaluation and disbursement over time as well.

AP (12m 22s):
Oh, yeah. They certainly play in because when cities are prioritizing their assets and showing their wares, what they got, they often exclude Black assets. And also when companies are looking to site their firms in certain areas, their demands often exclude Black assets. And so it’s very important again, this, from start to finish, that if we’re bringing in companies and using taxpayer dollars to incentivize them, we need to involve the public. These are public dollars that are being spent or being let go. And so we need to see a return on that investment for the communities that these firms are supposed to serve.

JW (13m 5s):
You measure property devaluation in the book, and you do it through rigorous data analysis. I’m wondering how that got put together and where you started the process.

AP (13m 14s):
Yeah. You know, again, it started when the process of writing the book and when I started looking at the value of my home. And I went to a nearby town, Edgewood it’s next door to Wilkinsburg, and I looked at a similar home and it was just valued so much higher, beyond like the sort of the condition of it. I said, “This doesn’t make any sense.” And so I went back, we looked at home prices in Black majority places where the share of the Black population was greater than 50%. And we compared them to places where the share of the Black population is less than a percent. And what we found—a lot of people will not be surprised—that homes in Black neighborhoods are about half as much as those in white neighborhoods.

AP (13m 57s):
Now, most people will say, “That’s because of crime, that’s because of lower education,” but those are things that you can control for. So I reached out to my colleague Jonathan Rothwell at Gallup and my colleague at Brookings, David Harshbarger. And we started controlling for crime, education, walkability, and all those fancy housing Zillow metrics that you see. And what we found astounds, that after controlling for all of these things, homes in Black neighborhoods are undervalued by 23%, about $48,000 per home. Accumulatively that represents about $156 billion in lost equity.

AP (14m 40s):
And as I mentioned, that equity is supposed to be used to send your kid to college. In fact, that would have funded more than 8 million four year degrees, based on the average amount of a four year public education, it would have funded more than 4 million businesses based on the average amount that Blacks use to start up their companies. It would have replaced the pipes in Flint, Michigan, 3000 times over, it covers almost all of Hurricane Katrina damage. It’s a big number. And so I did that and I was shocked by it. We released a report. And then I said, you know, let me write a book about this. And that’s what I did.

JW (15m 21s):
Yeah. It also brought up the part about white centering and how you do data analysis. And I found that really fascinating as well.

AP (15m 27s):
Yeah, you know, when you look at racial disparities absent of structural racism, what you end up doing is creating a narrative that Black people need to catch up to white people. So if you look at educational disparities and you say, Hey, white folks on standardized test scores are at 50 and Blacks are at 35. The way to get to parity is for Blacks to catch up to white people. And you ignore the structural inequalities that may be throttling educational achievement for Black folk. And if you don’t address that source of inequality, you essentially allow those disparities to exist and you don’t ever encourage investment in Black people.

AP (16m 12s):
No one invests in problems. And so when you pit Black people as the negative disparity, you’re essentially saying that that’s the problem. They are the problem. And you end up investing in white people to fix Black people, which in education, you see this all the time. Education is littered with white saviors for that reason. And so I wanted to say, “Hey, we need to examine structural inequality so we can get at the source of the problem. And we need metrics that will describe the amount we have to restore, because racism is extracting wealth from communities every day.”

AP (16m 51s):
And so that $156 billion is just one example of how we need to restore that value and in the structures that create that inequality. And so a lot of my research is framed that way. You know, we say it’s asset framing. We’re looking at strength. The homes in black neighborhoods are not broken, but they are devalued. And so my efforts is to highlight the assets as strengths, not to pit Black people as deficits.

JW (17m 19s):
And that affects how we do research. You know, how data analysis can be skewed by the researcher and how data can be collected and used to protect Black people from discrimination and asset depreciation it seems like.

AP (17m 30s):
Absolutely. You know, there’s so much unrest right now, and we’re looking for solutions to the injustices that were made plain by over-representation of COVID deaths, police brutality, people were asking why this is occurring. And it is a good question. And there are real structures that are causing it. And so in order to protect Black lives, we really do need to change the way we do data analysis. Because a lot of the policies that are created are based upon research done by people like me, people in thinktanks and universities. And if we’re constantly saying that Black people are problems and those policies reflect that, then some of the problem is on us.

AP (18m 17s):
What are we doing as researchers to facilitate policies that inhibit growth and investment in Black communities?

JW (18m 27s):
I appreciated your history as well, you know, Black people being excluded from jobs in the auto industry and then their homes devalued compared to similar white homes, tax collection reduced in all Black cities, reducing services and more jobs, and it, It goes on and on. You’ve measured the current evaluation. I’m wondering if you had any ideas about kind of the compound interest on such a number that you’ve created.

AP (18m 47s):
We’re actually right now trying to measure the compound interest because you know, people hear $156 billion and they go, is that over 10 years, 20 years? I was like, no, that’s just 2017 data. We know wealth begets wealth and not having wealth essentially creates a condition where you’re constantly in debt. And so we need to measure that. And that gets into a conversation about reparations and restitution, because the reason why there’s housing devaluation has a lot to do with the red lining policies. There’s been policy violence leveled against Black America that comes out in the wash in the devaluation research.

AP (19m 31s):
And so there are structures that are responsible for the devaluation, and we can point to them. So we need to figure out ways to restore value that has been robbed from Black people in Black communities.

JW (19m 44s):
What’s the importance of majority Black cities to Black people?

AP (19m 48s):
You know, we treat Black cities like Black people. And so when you’re looking at the leadership in, say, Detroit, I’m pointing to Kwame Kilpatrick, he’s a leader that had a lot of issues, don’t get me wrong. But the collapse of Detroit had less to do with Kwame, more to do with white flight, the auto industry getting their way in terms of taxes, in terms of benefits from the city during the recession, the Big Three had a lot of responsibility to the people of the city of Detroit. And they failed in a lot of different ways, but we point to Black leaders as the problem. You know, I look at Black institutions in terms of school boards, in terms of other institutions, and they’re constantly beat up.

AP (20m 35s):
They’re constantly blamed. They’re constantly devalued. And again, it points to that we treat Black institutions and Black cities like Black people. And the casualness in which former officer Derek Chauvin, the casualness in which he put his knee in the back of the neck of George Floyd, those same attitudes are held by real estate agents. They’re held by corporate executives. They’re held by lenders. And so we’ve got to eliminate those attitudes and structures that casually devalue Black cities. There’s no question many cities like my hometown of Wilkinsburg would see greater investment if white people were in them, or if more white people were in them.

AP (21m 20s):
And so we got to change that because a home shouldn’t be valued that differently from one or the other based on the race of the people around them. Again, it goes back to that tradition of saying that Black people are riskier than other people, that Black people are going to use more services do we better jack up their property taxes, or Black people are here so we should assess their property lower. These things are just ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it’s the reason why many Black places aren’t developing. Because of the perception of them, not because of the assets or the people.

JW (22m 0s):
And that’s the thing that struck me about Wilkinsburg and Larimer and the places along the East Busway, because you know, they do have those bones, the walkable street networks and the houses that could be renovated and those types of things. It seems you look at it and you’re like, well, why, why isn’t this happening? It seems silly.

AP (22m 16s):
Yeah. You know, I love my town because when I was growing up in it, it had everything to offer and it still does. It has proximity. The housing stock, the transportation, everything is there. It’s ripe for investment and growth, but folks see Black people and there’s fear. And there has been violence in Wilkinsburg, but the reasons for that violence is a lack of investment. And so at some point we’ve got to commit ourselves to just basic facts. That it is a fact that this place, Wilkinsburg, is prime for investment.

AP (22m 56s):
And we should be investing in the people in that town, just like we should invest in the people of Google. That nothing grows without investment, and if we want to see growth in Wilkinsburg, we should be investing in the quality assets, the quality people of it.

JW (23m 13s):
And that’s an important point I think that you make in the book too, is that you need to invest in the people and not necessarily just the places. I mean, otherwise you’ll get the gentrification pattern, right? You’ll get the Google moving in and the Black people moving out.

AP (23m 25s):
That’s exactly right. And a lot of people always ask me, “What do you think of opportunities zones?” I have that same response. I say that, you know, I’m less interested in initiatives that don’t put checks in the hands of business owners, potential homeowners, current homeowners, entrepreneurs. Those are the kinds of investments that matter, particularly for Black people, because we’ve never had that trust with the banking community, with financial institutions. We see less business loans. When we do get business loans, they’re at higher rates. And so we need to see direct investment. No one’s worried about growth and gentrification when you own things in a place.

AP (24m 7s):
So if you own a laundry shop in Wilkinsburg, you’re not worried about gentrification, you’re encouraging it or encouraging, I should say, growth in the city. We need to put investments directly in the hands of people, and place, but to decouple people in place is essentially to encourage gentrification. You’ll develop the place, wages are stagnated, folks will ultimately be priced out. So you have to invest in people so that they can have a stake in the place itself.

JW (24m 40s):
How can we create value now? You talk about wealth scores, baby bonds, those are just some of the examples, but how are we going to do this and make sure that it happens?

AP (24m 48s):
You know, there has to be political pressure placed on our institutions in the absence of doing a race based program a la reparations or some type of Black home ownership program, we’ve got to figure out ways to get capital in the hands of people living in devalued areas. And so, I talk a lot about low interest loans to potential home buyers who live in devalued areas. And so we just need new metrics around that. I’ve been saying, if you don’t want to use race, let’s look at wealth. And if your parents owned a home, maybe you shouldn’t qualify for this program for instance, because it’s that lack of wealth that is the manifestation of the policy violence that was inflicted upon Black Americans.

AP (25m 36s):
And so we need to figure out new ways to score credit worthiness, to have low income people purchase a home like the one I used to live in that banks won’t back mortgages. And so we need to figure out ways to do that. It’s sort of the same way we got out of the Depression. Part of it is to invest in low income people, but in the New Deal, much of it did not include Black people. And that’s partially why we’re in the situation we’re in now, but we can return to that kind of thinking and say, let’s invest in people who have suffered an economic shock—and we’ve been suffering that economic shock for generations—but let’s invest in folks because that will help not only the people in those communities, but it will help ignite an economy as well.

JW (26m 24s):
What’s been the response to the book so far?

AP (26m 26s):
Oh, man! I mean, I’m actually overwhelmed with the positive feedback. You know, I actually thought there would be a lot of white people complaining about that book— (Laughs)

JW (26m 38s):
I guess that’s par for the course lately…

AP (26m 40s):
Yeah, yeah. But actually they love the book. Black people certainly love the book. And I think why people like it, it’s a blend of personal stories, it’s biographic in nature or autobiographic in nature, but there’s a lot of data in there. A lot of analysis, a lot of just plain old good statistics in there. And so it makes for an easy read. Because of what I wanted to do is really show how these inequalities actually play out in real life. That I didn’t just want to say, “Hey, this is housing devaluation and it’s 23%, $156 billion,”

AP (27m 21s):
but what does that mean in real life?

JW (27m 25s):

AP (27m 25s):
And so like part of the story, I tell how my father, who died in prison, also lived in areas that were highly devalued. He died at the hands of another prisoner, but in reality, if he was a white guy, he probably wouldn’t be incarcerated, probably would have gone to a better school. He probably would have had the services to deal with his addiction. And again, the $156 billion represents twice the amount that the US dedicates to combat the opioid crisis. And my dad died of a heroin addiction, essentially. He ended up in jail, he was murdered in jail, but that would have never happened if his community was well-resourced. And so I wanted to just explain that in real terms, using real people. And also what I did, you know, I made mistakes along the way. So in the book, I own up to some of the negative thinking amd sort of the conventional thinking about assets in my own life. And so folks are going to see not this sort of self aggrandizement and saying what I did in a positive way, they’re going to see, “Oh, I messed up (Laughs) and I can own up to it.” And I wish more researchers did that instead of dragging on these myths, instead of refuting their own work over time.

JW (28m 43s):
Yeah. There’s a number of very powerful parts in the book, the point at which you make a conscious choice not to devalue your father, the apology to your wife, the apology to teachers. You know, I was reading through and, you know, you saw Wylene Sorapuru, and she told you that you couldn’t look her in the eye when you fired her. And that was the last I heard of her, and I wanted to know more about that conversation that you had and what she said to you.

AP (29m 4s):
Yeah. Well, I, you know, I, so I called up people that I did wrong, including my wife who sleeps with me, but I called her up and I said, “Hey, let’s talk. I did you dirty. I need to hear your response. I want to apologize.” I did apologize. She explained. Right now, she’s doing well. She’s a school administrator in New Orleans. And just give people a little backstory, I fired a bunch of black administrators when I ran a charter school network in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and like many different school leaders at the time, we devalued black women. We fired Black people en masse, we did not hire Black people and we let many Black people go because we did not see their added value in the future.

AP (29m 52s):
And so I apologize to that. I mean, that was devastating to a community. We said, we’re going to do good by children by radically changing New Orleans. But you know, kids don’t live in schools, they live in communities. And when you fire Black women, you’re firing parents, you’re firing taxpayers, you’re firing the Black middle class. And I needed to own up to that. But when I apologized to Wylene Sorapuru, I said, “I’m sorry, you know, how you doing?” And she’s doing well, but she did clarify she was so disgusted, and she was right, I could barely look her in the eye. So I’m very open about my mistakes in the book, but I just want to say that there are real world consequences to our actions.

AP (30m 36s):
That when we devalue people, this is not just some academic exercise. People lose their jobs, their children are hurt, they are scarred. And so I needed to own up to that. I needed to.

JW (30m 51s):
I find it interesting too, I mean, in the book you mentioned the test scores had gone from the bottom to the middle, and you all want it to go higher. And I thought back also to that white centering data analysis, I made that connection, but I’m wondering if you did as well.

AP (31m 4s):
Yeah, absolutely. But I actually realized this when I was a school administrator. We wanted Black people in New Orleans to look like the white middle class without giving them middle-class money. And we were expecting them to achieve at the same level with white people without the same resources. In fact, we were saying, “You know, the budgets are bloated. We don’t need money. Poverty is not the issue.” I mean, we were openly saying idiotic things like that, you know, so I realized that quickly because as a researcher, we all know that academic achievement measured by standardized test scores is highly correlated with income, highly correlated with wealth, highly correlated with whether or not your parents went to college or not.

AP (31m 53s):
More so then your potential in the future. Test scores do a pretty decent job of revealing what you’ve taken, but they’re horrible at predicting what you will become. And so we punish children in New Orleans. I mean, we literally punish them in a sense of expulsion rates went up, suspension rates went up, in the name of higher test scores. Again, kids don’t live in schools, they live in communities. So when you pass off children in the streets, when you expel them for their uniform’s not right, they spoke out in class, the sort of harsh disciplinary practices that characterize the charter movement at the time. That’s just horrible for community. And that’s the kind of damage that we did. But again, it all revolved around our effort to make Black people look like white middle class families. And that was just disastrous.

JW (32m 50s):
We recently talked to Dr. Georges Benjamin about the social determinants of health. And you mentioned structural racism continues even when black people move up the socioeconomic ladder and, you know, it causes them even more problems. Why is that?

AP (33m 4s):
Yeah, because believe it or not, racism exists even as you move up the socioeconomic ladder. I tell this story about my wife’s journey. She was punished for her involvement in reproductive justice, and it was ugly. I mean, it was really ugly and I’m very open about it in the book, but she was wronged. And this is a woman, highly educated, an MD, highly skilled, but as she kept moving up, she kept hitting racism. And we were punished for that. And it has horrible implications on health outcomes. I talk a lot about the social determinants in the context of reproductive justice and maternal mortality, infant mortality.

AP (33m 47s):
It impacted our ability to have a child. Luckily, we had enough income, we took a financial hit in trying to have a child, but we eventually got a surrogate. But the point is that structural racism impacts all of us, regardless of educational status or income or what kind of job you have. It impacts us all.

JW (34m 6s):
You talk about the importance of Black women in schools, in voting and in policymaking, and ask when we’ll have a Black woman president. I’m wondering who’s on your short list for the VP pick this year.

AP (34m 17s):
Ooh, man, let me tell you, I think in terms of a VP pick, you know, I actually like Kamala Harris, but I understand that she doesn’t necessarily add value in the electoral sense because California is going to vote Democrat regardless. So, you know, Val Demings in Florida’s looking reeaally good right now, but I, you know, I like so many of the Black women who are rising up in politics right now, but I had in my sights early on Kamala Harris, but Val Demings, I think in the future, you’re going to see people like London Breed in San Francisco make a run.

AP (34m 57s):
I think Keisha Lance Bottoms is going to try to do something, there’s mayors and US Reps all across the country, Black women that are getting elected in white districts. And they’re showing that there’s a lot of crossover appeal. So in that chapter, I talk about the devaluation of Black women electeds or potential electeds too often. The Democrat Party comes in late to invest in the Black women ground game in various cities. They bailed out Doug Jones in that special election with Roy Moore, the Democrats came in late, invested in the Black women ground game in Birmingham, Mobile—Doug Jones was elected. In Louisiana, you had John Bel Edwards and a tough battle with the Trump-endorsed candidate. John Bel Edwards, the incumbent, was expected to lose, but the investment in Black women in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport elevated John Bel Edwards. But you know, the reality is Doug Jones and John Bel Edwards very well could have been a Black woman. And so we need to invest in Black women in electoral politics, they have great crossover appeal, they have a vantage point of being lowly paid but highly accomplished. And so they can talk about the struggles, the economic struggles of the poor, and they can talk about being in the corporate boardrooms. And so they have a great vantage point. And so I’m encouraging investments in Black women moving forward.

JW (36m 29s):
So what’s next on the docket for you? Are you going to write a new book, more research? You’re doing a lot of stuff at Brookings.

AP (36m 36s):
Yeah. You know, what I’m excited about is I have this Ashoka competition that we’re working on, where we’re going to give a $1 million of prize money to folks working on housing devaluation. Ashoka is a organization that works on social entrepreneurialism, and they have many different competitions and challenges. Stuart Yasgur reached out to me and said, “Hey, this is the perfect problem to work on.” And so we decided to team up, we’re going to do this competition that’s going to kick off in the fall. And we’re going to look for people all across the country who are approximate to the problem of housing devaluation, and we’re going to incentivize their work.

AP (37m 17s):
So I’m really looking forward to that. And we’re going to do a lot of work around creating a Black business development goals. So we’re going to create national goals that will lead to greater investment in Black businesses all across the country. And so those two things are very practical steps I’m taking as a result of this book, but I’m already writing up followups on essentially very pragmatic followup plans to different aspects of the book. So, look for those in the upcoming months.

JW (37m 52s):
Awesome. “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities” by Andre Perry. Where can folks find the book?

AP (37m 58s):
Oh, they can find it anywhere where books are sold. Obviously we’re in a pandemic and many stores’ retail outlets are not, in terms of brick and mortar outlets, are not open, but you can find it online. I’ve been encouraging people to go local, but obviously they can go to the big Amazon. But if you can, go local. Find a local retailer and get to “Know Your Price.”

JW (38m 23s):
Awesome. Andre, thanks for joining us. We really appreciate it.

AP (38m 23s):
You’re welcome.

JW (38m 23s):
And thanks for joining us. The Talking Headways podcast is a project of the Overhead Wire, on the web at theoverheadwire.com. Sign up for a free trial of the Overhead Wire Daily, our fourteen-year-old daily cities newslist, by clicking the link at the top right of theoverheadwire.com, and please please please support the pod by going to patreon.com/theoverheadwire. Many thanks to our current patrons for their ongoing support. And as always, you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Overcast, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts. And you can always find its original home at USA.streetsblog.org. See you next time at Talking Headways.

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