As Bill O’Reilly Denies White Privilege, Frank Demands Evidence of Racial Discrimination. Here it is.
On the national stage, Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly has taken to the airwaves to assert that white privilege does not exist in the United States. Black people in America are not being discriminated against, O’Reilly says; they just aren’t finding success because they don’t want success enough.
On the small stage of Irregular Times, we’ve had a visitor named Frank who lately has been issuing a challenge, demanding that someone show him evidence of discrimination against black people in America. There is no such evidence, he says.
Bill O’Reilly and Frank are wrong. Ample evidence exists of white privilege, and of discrimination against black people:
- Economists Nicolas Jacquemet and Constantine Yanellis used correspondence tests to find out. They sent out fictional resumes demonstrating equal skill levels, differing only by the name of the applicant. “Anglo-Saxon” names, “African-American” names and “Foreign” names (as judged by survey respondents) appeared at the top of these to apply for real Chicago jobs. Despite showing no difference in qualifications, resumes with Anglo-Saxon names at the top generated phone calls from interested employers 1/3 more often than resumes with African-American or Foreign names. (Labour Economics, 2012)
- Behavioral economists Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan also sent fictional resumes out to job listings in Boston and Chicago newspapers. Paired resumes were set to be equivalent with one exception: the use of names perceived to be “highly white” or “highly black” in survey research. Applications with white names generated 50 percent more callbacks than equivalent applications with black names. (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2003)
- Sociologist Devah Pager sent out trained auditors to apply for jobs posted in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The auditors showed equivalent experience and skill in their applications, and only varied in two aspects: their race (white or black) and the criminal record they fictionally reported to potential employers (felony conviction vs. no criminal record). White auditors with no criminal background were more than twice as likely to be called back by employers after applying than black auditors reporting equivalent experience and skill. White auditors reporting a felony criminal conviction were more likely to receive a callback on their application than black auditors reporting no criminal record. (American Journal of Sociology, 2003)
- In another study, Pager, Bruce Western and Bart Bonikowski sent out trained auditors to apply for low-wage jobs in New York City. Again, the auditors were taught to use the same modes of communication and made applications with equivalent levels of experience. Black applicants received callbacks from employers at half the rate of equally qualified white applicants. (American Sociological Review, 2009)
- In yet another study, sociologist S. Michael Gaddis sent out 1,008 fake job applications in which two features varied: the college or university from which an applicant graduated and the name an applicant used. Names were identified as “racialized” if they were strongly associated with black identity (DaQuan, Ebony, Jalen, Lamar, Nia, and Shanice) or white identity (Aubrey, Caleb, Charlie, Erica, Ronny and Lesly). The fake applicants’ alma maters were grouped into two categories: high-prestige universities such as Duke, Harvard or Stanford and “second-tier universities” that are respected but not as well-ranked (University of California-Riverside and University of North Carolina-Greensboro were two such universities). The quality of applicants’ records, and of the applications themselves, were held equal within pairs; only names and university names varied. The results: black applicants received positive employer responses only 75% as often as white applicants graduating from a university of the same status. Applicants with black names graduating from elite universities obtained positive employer responses only about as often as white applicants graduating from second-tier universities. (Social Forces, 2015)
- Sociologist Raj Ghoshal and Gaddis conducted yet another study in which they sent out more than 1,500 fictitious responses to “roommate wanted” ads in Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. These responses were created to be equivalent with one exception: the names of the fictional people responding to roommate requests. Ghoshal and Gaddis consulted Census records to find names used especially often by people reported black racial identity and by people reporting white racial identity. The fictitious roommate requests associated with black names received a positive response only two-thirds as often as roommate requests associated with white names. (Social Science Research Network, 2015)
These are just a few instances of evidence of continued discrimination against black people in the United States in the 21st Century. Again and again, in equally-qualified pairs of black and white people, white people are favorably treated. That is white privilege. That is a system of racism.