Sunday, March 31, 2013

Racism Without Racist Attitudes

There's a great article at the Huffington Post by Janell Ross calling attention to how networks serve to propagate racism.  I think the introductory sentences pretty much sum it up:

There's a comforting-to-white-people fiction about racism and racial inequality in the United States today: They're caused by a small, recalcitrant group who cling to their egregiously inaccurate beliefs in the moral, intellectual and economic superiority of white people.
The reality: racism and racial inequality aren't just supported by old ideas, unfounded group esteem or intentional efforts to mistreat others, said Nancy DiTomaso, author of the new book, The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism. They're also based on privilege, she said -- how it is shared, how opportunities are hoarded and how most white Americans think their career and economic advantages have been entirely earned, not passed down or parceled out.

The article is worth reading in full, and I'm adding the book to my reading list. I don't have much more to say on the subject, I've written about aspects of it before. If we're concerned about inequality and privilege we need to admit that these ties play important roles in our economy and that they serve to distort away from equal outcomes. While I think there are pros and cons to networking, even at the level of the national economy, confronting these subjects requires understanding that we need social policies to counterbalance these social forces. We can choose to do this through redistributive policies, or regulatory policies such as affirmative action, but we do have to make a choice. Without intervention our current market institutions will simply propagate and deepen these inequalities, making these problems a permanent fact of life.

1 comment:

  1. I have never thought about a Tzimiskes post as much as I have this one with the Accidental Racist song the past few days.