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Predatory Governance: How Racist Policies Replenish America’s Public Coffers (Little, Brown & Company)
  • Bernadette Atuahene
The police killings of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other Black men and women evoked painful memories of bygone lynchings and sparked a slew of national and international protests and discussions about anti-Black racism. In Predatory Governance, Harvard and Yale trained law professor, Bernadette Atuahene, seeks to expand the focus of our nation’s racial justice conversation from the physical violence that state agents exert to the less conspicuous, but intensely damaging bureaucratic violence that they routinely inflict. Based on over five years of ethnographic research, litigation, and community organizing around Detroit’s illegally inflated property taxes and its resulting tax foreclosure epidemic, Predatory Governance highlights an underreported national phenomenon: public agencies that replenish public coffers through racist policies (or what others sometimes call institutional or structural racism). By following the lives of two grandfathers who migrated to Detroit at the turn of the twentieth century to work at Ford Motor Company—a Black sharecropper from North Carolina and a white sharecropper from Italy—and their grandchildren, Atuahene tells a riveting, braided tale about racist policies, including what they look and feel like, where and how they take root, why they advance and flourish, who they impact, who profits, and, of course, what it takes to dismantle them. Atuahene is the James E. Jones Chair at the University of Wisconsin Law School and her work has appeared in the New York Times, LA Times, NPR’s Democracy Now!, and the Washington Post among others.

Publication Date
Little, Brown & Company
Citation Information
Bernadette Atuahene. Predatory Governance: How Racist Policies Replenish America’s Public Coffers (Little, Brown & Company). (2025)
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