Mehrsa Baradaran –
When I started research on the project that became The Color of Money, I wanted to write a book about racial disparities in access to credit. When I started digging into the history, I started to realize that there was a much bigger story here, one that undermined one of the most basic neoliberal myths about the free market. This history of black banks and the economy of segregation reveals how inextricably financial markets are tied to racial exploitation, and how the dominant economy can continue to extract from racially subordinated groups through “color-blind” market mechanisms.
I hope that the upcoming symposium on The Color of Money will help connect the historical work to contemporary law, building on LPE’s commitment to understanding and reversing the many structures of racial capitalism.
In particular, I try to debunk three market myths in the book:
- That money, markets, and trade exist outside the realm of political power
- That inequality is a natural byproduct of market forces rather than being created by the state
- And that people left outside of the structures of power can overcome their exclusion through local institutions or self-help