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“’Black People’s Money’: The Impact of Law, Economics, and Culture in the Context of Race on Damage Recoveries” is one of a series of articles by the author dealing with black economic marginalization; prior work considered such topics as shopping and selling as forms of deviance, street vending, restraints on leisure, and the importance of informality in loan transactions. This article deals with the linkage between the social significance of black people’s money and its material value. It analyzes the construction of “black money,” its association with cash, and the taboos and cultural practices that assure that black money will be worth less than white money. Concrete evidence of the devaluation of money in the hands of blacks is found in two tort cases involving black plaintiffs (a woman assumed to be on welfare and a prisoner) who were awarded inadequate damages because of the social meaning attributed to money in their hands.


Law and economics, race, valuation, litigation, damages, social meaning, discrimination, jury verdicts, segregation