Is It Harder For Poor Illiterate White Guys Or Rich Black Harvard Law Graduates To Get Arrested?

Bobby Constantino wrote an amazing story about how hard it was to get arrested as an educated white guy wearing the uniform of the upper-class, a suit and tie.  It is well worth reading. He is a hero for the sacrifices he makes to expose the arbitrary cruelties and injustices that the heavy hand of government imposes on our fellow Americans.  Constantino implies that the system’s injustices are racially motivated and no doubt that is true.  Justin Peters dismisses Constantino’s story as just an  anecdote without any experimental controls, but it is a powerful story and well worth reading.

One problem with the way Constantino tells the story is that it isn’t clear how much of the injustice is due to racial motivations and how much is due to class motivations. Another problem is that there isn’t any clear solution to the problem of the injustice in the story.  For example, it isn’t clear if affirmative action would make the problem worse by increasing racial resentment or if affirmative action would help solve the problem by desegregating society.

I generally tend to think that economic affirmative action would be better than racial affirmative action for reducing this kind of problem because it creates very similar outcomes due to the fact that racial minorities are disproportionately poor.  And it reduces racial resentment among the kind of whites who end up working as police.  Plus, much of the injustice might be due to class bias anyhow.  If Constantino had showed up in ragged clothing rather than a suit, he would probably have been treated differently.

But perhaps I am wrong and racial affirmative action is the best.  It is certainly important to desegregate police and other parts of our criminal justice system, but that is not sufficient to eliminate the kinds of injustice that Constantino writes about because some of the officials who seem to discriminate against Blacks are Black.

Some of the most successful examples of desegregation did not use affirmative action.  American professional sports desegregated by including Black athletes who were better than the average and the military desegregated without affirmative action preferences.  What are the greatest successes of race-based affirmative action?  Surely there are some success stories to rival the desegregation of American military and sport.

Posted in Discrimination, Labor

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