This article originally appeared on the blog of Heretic, the magazine of We Are Libertarians.
By Kyle Jacobs
In part one I made the claim that racist individuals exist, and that very little could be done to combat this. I argued that the solution lies in limiting our ever-expanding government. I believe both points to be true, however I must admit it is slightly unfair for me to place all the blame on the government and their operating agencies. After all, government is nothing more than a slightly skewed reflection of ourselves. Looking inward at ourselves, we see a host of problems that arise on a national level and disproportionately affect racial minorities.
In part one, I hinted that racism, at the individual level, does not pose a significant threat to people of color. I’d like to take a moment and play devil’s advocate with myself in order to show how our actions, even at the most basic individual level, are compounded and exaggerated when multiplied by the entirety of the U.S. population.
I want to preface this by saying I am by no means a condemning the free market. I believe it possible to advocate for a capitalist society while simultaneously pointing out its flaws. The American free market system is not without its flaws. And I believe some of the biggest flaws are due to the sneaky hands of government guised as the free market. Regulatory capture tends to prohibit minorities from creating innovative local business as do arbitrary permitting laws. However, the overall point I am trying to make is that racism exists outside of government so these will have to be ignored for now.
Just looking at the flaws in ourselves, we see that employers are much less likely to hire people of color. Putting numbers to this problem we see that employers are more than twice as likely to call an applicant back for potential interviews if there is no indication of the applicant being black. Not only does having dark skin place you at a disadvantage but by simply having a “black” name you may be subjected to discrimination by employers you will never meet. While it may only take Jerry Smith about 10 applications to receive a call back, a man with the name of “Jamal” or “Tyrone” will have to complete more than 20 applications.
After the financial crisis of 2008, many of the banking industry’s misdeeds were brought to light. One action that banks took, intentionally or not, was to give people of color subprime loans. This was completely unrelated to the typical factors in loan decisions such as credit score and annual income. In fact, researchers found that that a black family with a yearly income of $200,000 thousand were less likely to receive a prime loan then a white family making $30 – $50,000 a year.
While subprime lending mostly ended after the bursting of the mortgage bubble, this does not mean that the relationship between people of color and banks has improved all that much. The problem is that black people are now much less likely to even be approved for loans. This is especially true for small black businesses.
One of the most frustratingly common tendencies that people across America have, is the tendency to call the police on our fellow citizens. This is at its heart a problem for all races, white people included. There is no reason in my mind why the capable adult should ever resort to calling men with guns to his neighbors’ home for loud music before ever even having attempted to remedy the complaint on their own. In my opinion, this stems from an unhealthy nonconfrontational mindset that is corrupting American minds. I have yet to hear someone try to justify passive aggressiveness as a virtuous trait, and yet I have heard many people say when talking about the uncourteous activities of neighbors that, “next time I will just call the cops”. Though this is a problem across all races, people of color tend to be the greatest victims. Chan McNamarah’s scholarly article, “White Caller Crime”, points out the ludicrous nature of activities that black people have been engaged in, only to be interrupted by police.
“Black people had the authorities summoned for sitting in Starbucks, Waffle House, sleeping in university common rooms, eating in university classrooms, making purchases, returning purchases, smoking cigarettes, moving into apartments, leaving apartments, going for walks, …”
It is hard to make the argument that police and therefore government solely bear the weight of racism given that everyday hundreds of white Americans see black Americans partaking in peaceful activities only to assume that some crime must have taken place. Sadly, for many black people the result of this profiling and the consequential government intrusion, is a charge and sentence for a “crime” that would have never had taken place in the first place.
“We the people…”
To utter the phrase “you need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps” to black man or woman is either racist or ignorant. Personally, I believe that for most people this mindset stems from the latter trait. The statistics showing the oppression of people of color are not apparent unless you actually spend time reading and researching. This is something that the average person just does not do. Make no mistake, oppression is occurring.
When we refuse a man or woman employment based solely on their name, refuse to give them loans so that they can engage in business, and then assume that any activity they partake in deserves investigated by police, we are oppressing said man or woman. I say we because all of this is at the hand of us, not the government. It is easy to separate ourselves from the actions our government takes. It is not so easy to separate ourselves from the actions of the free market, which is a much more accurate reflection of who we are as a society. No, you and I may have never worked for a bank. We may have never worked in the hiring department of a company of any size. We may have never dialed 911 on any person because we suspected a crime occurring. But that does not change the fact that these grievances are occurring everyday by people just like you and me. Citizens of America.
Our government is racist. We, as a society, are as well.
I relied heavily on outside sources for all the statistics that went into this. Whether you choose to agree with my premises and conclusions, I encourage you to take the time to do the research.