By Victor J. Ward
I need to go on a diet.
Why? Because I need to start a YouTube channel where I speak-out on issues of discrimination, but I am hesitant to do so (read: vain) because I need to drop about 40 lbs.
Charles Barkley made a statement over the weekend, urging the NCAA to take the Final Four from the state of Indiana. He said that he was opposed to discrimination of all forms.
Barkley shows flashes of wisdom at times. This is not one of them. People listen to Barkley because he is outspoken and because he is Black. And, when you are Black and outspoken about an issue, and fairly entertaining, and you already have camera time, the media will showcase your opinion.
I'm not as fat as Charles Barkley, so I have that going for me. I am fairly well-spoken, and I am somewhat educated. And, there are just not that many Black Libertarians out there. (By definition, that, alone, makes me controversial.) Maybe I should just start the YouTube channel -- fat and all.
Back to Barkley: There is no way that the NCAA is going to move the Final Four. First, there is the logistical nightmare. Second, and more importantly, if the NCAA moved the Final Four, lawsuits would soon follow.
Barkley is announcing the games for CBS. Is Barkley going to boycott announcing the games? Is Barkley going to give up his paycheck? If he does, then at least he has some character -- he is still completely wrong, but at least he is willing to stand behind his beliefs.
I heard a soft-head on a radio show ask: "If you are ok with the Indiana law and with discrimination against Gays, are you also ok with discrimination against Blacks?"
As a Black man, I will answer that for myself: "Yes, yes I am."
Would I feel differently if I were in a situation where everyone around me was racist?
Well, let's think about it this way: Mises said that "Man acts." But, according to Mises, Man acts in order to relieve himself of a felt uneasiness.
So, if I were in a situation where I was surrounded by White people that hated me because of my race, then it would be incumbent on me to find someway, somehow, to meet an unmet need better than the White folks could meet that need. I could meet that need either as an Entrepreneur or as an Employee.
This is not far-fetched. This is exactly what Jackie Robinson did when he broke the color barrier of Major League Baseball. He met a need for the Brooklyn Dodgers -- being a great baseball player -- better than other White players could meet that need. In ten seasons, Robinson went to the World Series in six of them, winning one. He was elected to the All-Star team six times. He is in the Hall of Fame.) Don't for a minute think that the Dodgers signed and kept Robinson just because he was Black; they signed and kept him because he was great.
This pattern works (or, can work) in other contexts. Take Real Estate. In the 1960s, there was a concept called Blockbusting: Say there are 10 homes, all owned by White people. Then, a Black person buys house #1.
Because all White people were racist because, of course, they were White, owners #2 -- #10 sold their homes. And, because the White people wanted so desperately to get away from the Black Man, they sold their homes at bargain prices.
Investors bought the homes at a depressed market value, and then re-sold the homes at elevated prices to Black people. Since Black people could not get financing from traditional banks, they had to get financing from the Investor that sold them the home.
The Investor provided a financing agreement with outrageous terms. As soon as the Black homeowner missed a payment or two, the Investor foreclosed on the home.
Could this be called a racist and discriminatory practice? Sure, but the only reason that the practice worked was because the Black homeowners were economically illiterate. The Investors were stuck in a compromised position: Demand was low. Remember, only Black people wanted to live in the neighborhood. The Black would-be-homeowners should have used that to their advantage.
Furthermore, the Black homeowners did not have to sign the mortgage document if they did not like the terms. Predatory lending was stupid and useless then, and predatory lending is stupid and useless now.
Finally, the Black homeowners did not have to miss a mortgage payment. My mother was alive in the 1960s. She only had a high school diploma, but she owned rental property. She never missed a payment. My mother and father not only owned the home where I lived, they also owned vacation property and rental property. They never missed a mortgage payment.
Blockbusting was the perfect opportunity for someone to become a Black Land Baron.
The final example comes from a law firm where I used to work. (This was long, long before I became a Libertarian.) I worked there as a paralegal. During my three years, there were several Black people employed as staff, but only three, maybe four, were ever employed as attorneys. None of the Black attorneys ever lasted more than four months.
The Black staff members felt that there was discrimination.
I was working as a paralegal because I had not yet passed the Bar exam. I was taking the exam (again) in July of 2000.
I had a good friend -- a pretty, blonde haired, White lady named Tara -- who also worked as a paralegal. Tara and I had exactly the same job description and we worked for exactly the same practice group and the same attorneys. Our desks were side by side. (As an aside: Tara was making $10k more than I was, although I had been there longer. I know this for a fact because I was snooping, I mean, looking, through the public documents on the company hard drive and I saw the offer letter given to Tara. What happens when the war on women collides with the war on Blacks?)
Tara was also taking the July 2000 Bar Exam.
The results of the July test came out in November. I passed, but Tara did not.
When I got to work on Monday, there were plenty of people who congratulated me. At the end of the day, Tara told me that one of the Partners that we both worked for pulled her aside and told her that if she had passed, he would have promoted her to Junior Associate. He also showed her the office that would have been hers.
When I heard that, I was furious. No one offered me a job. (Actually, one of the Partners did offer me a job, but, like the Black homeowners in the 60s, I was too economically and culturally dense to understand the nuance of the situation.) One could argue that Tara was going to be a better attorney, but she sure could not have been a better attorney for the next several months because she didn't pass the test.
I grew more and more bitter, and, about two years later, I was laid-off.
On my last day of work, I made my way through the firm to say my goodbyes. I was talking with one of the female attorneys who, of course, was White, and she told me, "This firm is really racist. You should apply to Perkins Coie."
"Why Perkins Coie?"
She then told me that the racist firm was losing a significant amount of business because one of the biggest corporate clients had a Black General Counsel. This Black GC did an audit of all the firms to see if they were diversified to his liking. When he got to the racist firm, he saw that none of the attorneys were Black. (All of the Black attorneys that had briefly worked for the firm had already left.) So, the Black GC took all of company's work and gave it to Perkins Coie.
Now, if you look at the racist firm's website, it has several Black attorneys.
Did the Black GC discriminate on the basis of color? Yes, it's the free market and he did as he saw fit, just as the law firm had done as they saw fit.
And, because of the free market, discrimination creates wide-open doors for those that are paying attention -- so wide, even a fat guy can enter.
Victor J. Ward is a long-time EPJ reader, who first came across libertarianism by reading Murray Rothbard's Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy and Walter Block's Defending the Undefendable.. At first the writings of Rothbard and Block shocked him, but after thinking about it, he realized that Rothbard and Block were right.