If you wonder why black unemployment is nearly twice as high as whites, you may want to avoid the hype. Common rhetoric says that the black unemployment rate is high because black people are not as qualified and ambitious as everyone else. There are some who are convinced that black people just don’t want to work.
But there’s a study that clears up much of the disparity and explains it with racial exclusion. According to Nancy DiTomaso, author of the new book, The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism, white Americans have many of their opportunities passed from one generation to the next and tend to hoard those opportunities, only sharing them with loved ones, friends and associates.
According to DiTomaso, most whites tend to believe that their economic advantages are almost solely merit-based and often ignore the impact of privilege in their outcomes.
DiTomaso is a professor of organization management at Rutgers University and has studied how racial inequality explains many of the employment disparities between black and white Americans.
“Across all three states where I did my research, I heard over and over again [white] people admitting that they don’t interact very often with nonwhites, not at work, not at home or otherwise,” said DiTomaso.
The professor interviewed 246 working-class and middle class whites for the study.
“That was true for just about everybody unless they were still in college,” DiTomaso continued. “Others would allude to some college friend or experience. But since then, they had not had much contact with blacks. So how would they pass opportunities and information across race lines?”
DiTomaso says that although many of the whites didn’t deliberately contribute to racial inequality, many of their actions and attitudes created the disparities that exist in America today.
“The vast majority assumed everyone has the same opportunities, and they just somehow tried harder, were smarter,” DiTomaso said. “Not seeing how whites help other whites as the primary way that inequality gets reproduced today is very helpful. It’s easy on the mind.”