Psychotherapist and novelist Ford (Think Black) presents a powerful and personal argument about the myriad ways Black labor created white wealth in the United States over the centuries. Ford uses the lives of specific Black men and women at pivotal moments—especially 1619, 1787, and the end of Reconstruction—to reveal the ongoing dynamics and interplay of freedom and unfreedom (especially slavery).
Repeatedly, white men and women ignored opportunities to expand freedoms to Black Americans; instead, white Americans locked in their own economic, racial, and political power through constitutions, laws, contracts, and capitalist instruments. Ford argues the result was that Black men and women were unable to acquire property, secure liberty, and participate in virtually every aspect of American economic growth and development. He also explores the exploitation of Black labor and creativity and the racist foundations in banking practices, land policy, commodity exchanges, credit arrangements, and more. Ford also makes his subject personal by interweaving his own life experiences into the narrative.
VERDICT Ford’s forceful arguments and writing will compel readers to face the facts of the long history of exploitation and appropriation that have defined so much of America’s struggle with itself to give substance and meaning to its promise of “freedom” for all.