In his book Democracy in Black, Princeton Professor Eddie Glaude Jr. describes how Americans — pedestrians and politicians alike — discount black people’s lives the way grocers do expiring meat. “No matter our stated principles, or how much progress we think we’ve made, white people are valued more than others in this country, and that fact continues to shape the life chances of millions of Americans,” Glaude wrote, adding, “Every day, black people confront the damning reality that we are less valued.”
We know how much less.
Calculating their smaller life insurance payouts, deflated wage rates, marked-down housing values, diminutive public education expenditures, and several other empirical measures, Duke University economist William Darity estimates black lives are worth less than a third of white lives.
“The discount rate on black humanity has been enormous,” he writes. “A variety of metrics indicate that, even after the end of Jim Crow, black lives are routinely assigned a worth approximately 30 percent that of white lives.”