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Busting The Myth Of The American Dream: Meet William Darity

Image of scholar William (Sandy) Darity
Duke University Sanford School School of Public Policy

Why are some people rich and others poor? Answering this elusive question has been the lifelong work of economist William (Sandy) Darity. Darity was an observant child, and from an early age he picked up on how wealth disparities divide communities. 

While his family was living abroad, he noticed that an Egyptian beach he was visiting looked different at various points along the coast based on which communities had access to it. He noticed similar distinctions while spending time in his grandmother’s hometown of Wilson, North Carolina, where black and white communities were divided by railroad tracks that ran through the town.

"Blacks with a college degree have 2/3 of the net worth of whites who never finished high school...If we are concerned about the racial wealth gap it has to be addressed through reparations."

Darity studied economics at MIT and the London School of Economics and Political Science, and later pioneered the subfield of stratification economics, an interdisciplinary approach to understanding economic inequality. It looks at how structures and policies, rather than individual behavior, impact the wealth of different subgroups. Host Frank Stasio talks with Darity, director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equityat Duke University, about his life and work.

Read more about his work:

Watch a profile of William (Sandy) Darity:

Note: this segment is a rebroadcast which originally aired 4/10/17.

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist, host, creator, and executive editor of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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