T Nation

Finance Capitalism = Racism?


So I am in this sociology course titled "Race & Ethnic Relations." The professor gave us her reasoning today as to why racism still persists in America. The corporations want racism to exist. It was something like this (very roughly).

Finance Capitalism is to blame for the continuing racism in this country. It works like this: I interview two people for a job, one black and one white (her area of study is racism towards African Americans). I don't want to offer the black guy any more money than I have to. I have to offer the white guy the same $ as the black guy. This leads to everyone being underpaid and having no control over their own lives. So the corporations keep racism alive.

To me though, it seems like the guys in the corporations have to be racist in the first place for this theory to work. Someone has to come from some racist background or upbringing to bring racist practices into the workplace.

Basically I'm saying that the corporations don't keep racism persisting in this country, it's the old school prejudices that come from people wanting to build themselves up by putting others down.

Anyone have any comments on this? I would like to make a good argument against this professor. She has too much of an agenda for my taste. I want to learn facts/theories whatever, but not be told how I should think.
She also posted a bogus stat stating blatantly that "women make 70% of men's wages." This, of course is based on faulty data (the men and women being studied are not of the same age, experience, or have same time on the job).

Just looking for thoughts.


  1. Women dont make the same money still dollar for dollar right? I dont know I havent looked at the data but I have heard it reported that way recently. What data do you have...80 cents on the dollar?

  2. There MUST be more to her argument. You summed it up in a few lines. She evidently spent several years studying it. Don't get in a pissing match with her. Ask her for sources and read them. I'm sure she would welcome a WELL RESEARCHED written critique of the arguments within those sources.

  3. On the offchance shes batshit crazy and her argument has no merit save yourself the trouble and coast.


Yes, powerful consituents of the corporation have to be racist for the corporation as whole to have detrimental effects on a particular race.

Im picturing the boardroom of a hypothetical corporation and Im thinking some assortment of ethnicities but majority white, middle class educated.

Now Im a white middle class liberal but Im racist as the day is long. When I pass a black guy on the street at night I get more nervous than when I pass a white guy. I cant help it, I try and fight it but its there.

If i was making hiring decisions that kind of thought could subconsciously affect my decisions and behavior in ways that Im not even conscious of.

So not hateful KKK upbringings, but merely middle class largely segregated white upbringings makes for some fucked up dynamics in society.


I recently heard an interview with a female conductor. She said that traditionally women have been underrepresented in major orchestras. Then they began doing auditions with the applicant assigned a number and performing out of sight or screened off from the judges. Sure enough female representation grew in orchestras as a result.

Peoples preconceptions are powerful. They think classical musician and they think older european dude. Institute pure merit auditions and sidestep those preconceptions and women are more represented in orchestras.

I wonder what preconceptions people carry about minorities in the corporate workplace?


Your teacher is a stupid hippy.
/end thread


Why would it not be present?

Social networking is not just on facebook. It starts early. Neighborhood or private schools, then college fraternities, then corporate America.

I worked at a mid sized corporation where if you didn't graduate from Penn State, you were not going anywhere in that company. The entire board and all of the engineers were from PSU.

If companies can be that finicky about diplomas, how do you think they are going to feel about someone from outside of their race?


It's not just PSU. I have seen the same behavior with Texas A&M grads...and while you can talk all you want about how racist someone has to be growing up, I do believe that school is still only about 3-4% black.

Institutionalized racism does not mean everyone belongs to the KKK.

Also, Eli is right, you would have to be really slow in the head to think that this woman simply arrived at a conclusion with absolutely no basis in fact OR that arguing with the woman as if she is stupid will do anything but make your time harder in that class.


Also, remember on X-Files how the woman playing Scully was getting paid much less than Moulder on the set? Didn't they both pretty much have equal billing on that show?


I'm willing to bet your prof has spent zero time actually working for a corporation - particularly one that is involved with "Finance Capitalism". Those people are hardly underpaid.

I think Scrotus gave an apt description of your professor.


One thing that is important to remember is that Sociology is one of the fields in academia where they actively (for the most part) seek to form your opinions for you. It is absolutely dominated by dogma and Sociology professors often get personally insulted if you do not agree with their world view.

She has chosen her field based on her beliefs and no measure of arguing or evidence is going to change her mind so don't bother.

Secondly, like just about everyone else on the planet, she is right about somethings and probably wrong about others.

When the wages of men and women in the same professions are factored for experience, education, and other differences a women will still only make around 93% of what men make. A smaller difference to be certain but still an unacceptable difference which is based purely on gender.

So while sexism and racism certainly do exist trying to blame it on one root cause so asinine that only a Sociology professor would do it.


This class sounds like bullshit to me. I hope it's an elective.


This is an example of talking out of your ass when you really don't know what you're talking about. Pa gives very little support to in state schools like PSU, and Temple. They're very expensive for all of us.

Temple has a much higher rate of African American students. So does Philadelphia where there are a greater % of African Americans. When you are chosing a school there are many factors. Cost is one of them. I could live at home and commute to Temple, or pay for housing at PSU.

Which is about 3.5 hours away. Temple is a great school with great programs, as is PSU.

PSU is in the middle of farmland. A kid growing up in the city might like city life. A kid like me growing up in rural areas might prefer that. The demographics are the reason, nothing else.

Here are some Philadelphia schools, Villanova, St. Joseph's, Temple among others. There are also branch campuses of PSU in that area, some where you can attend all 4 years. If you see all the quality universities in Pa. you'd understand.

You have Lehigh, Moravian, Muhlenburg in the Lehigh Valley. You have Pitt in Pittsburgh, again a town with higher African American population. You'd be hard pressed to find a state with more top quality colleges that Pa. Ever hear of Bucknell?

It's not always race, it's often location. A kid could pick over twenty great four year schools to go to in Pa.



Texas A&M is in the middle of nowhere compared to a major city making it pretty much equally hard to get to geographically for most students. It is right in the middle of Houston, Austin and Dallas.

How does geography explain what we are discussing as far as potential favoritism between hiring from certain schools?


Re: what Proff X and Eli said - I couldn't agree more. Institutional racism persists not only within corporate America, but in all facets of life, starting from the worlds best indoctrinating institution, education.

Like Proff X stated, there's a lack of people of color in higher education primarily because they have many more barriers to access to higher education than their white counterparts. This is due to the lack of resources that people of color encounter early on in their education - they live in areas that do not put funding into public education and as such, they do not get the same caliber of education as white folk. This is compounded by the fact that education is expensive and in order to get into a private school one needs money (loans), something which people of color generally lack (again when compared to their white peers). Of course POC can apply to state schools where the competition is much higher and where Affirmative Action is no longer being practiced (to my knowledge).

So like JoeGood said, racism in America is not just related to corporate financing, it runs much deeper - zoning laws, gentrification of neighborhoods, state funding practices, pipeline programs - these are just a few of the other factors that purport racism in the US. And all this excludes the fact that hiring practices are generally guided by the kinds of cultural and social capital that people of color generally lack (i.e. Bourdieu).


Actually, Temple is an interesting case, and you sir, are also talking out of your ass. If you know anything about Temple you'd know that it was a school that was started to serve its community, along the lines of a community college. The school itself is embedded in the city, and only within the last few decades got its own library - the library was the town's public library from the beginning of the university. So you're right, Temple does serve a lot of African American's, but only because it was a minority serving institution from its inception.


College Sociology, eh? Have fun. I took a couple of those courses in College. Good god the teachers were fucking annoying. I know everyone has an agenda but my prof made me feel guilty for being a middle class white guy.

I kept it somewhat real though. While everyone was doing reports on racism, equality and all of that bullshit that will never go away I did mine on the food industry (read: snack food).


Is she tenured (older, been teaching there awhile)? Usually that's when the professors start coming up with the goofy ideas. I work for a college and after you get to know the professors, you find many of them have agendas and have a bias against corporate America. My guess is they're jealous they don't get paid even a fraction of what corporate executives get paid.

As far as black people not being able to afford college, that's not an excuse any more. With programs like Financial Aid, Student Loans, and EOF, they'll pretty much pay for everything including your books if your poor enough. My parents had no savings and no credit, I had no savings and no credit and I was still able to pay for a good State school using these programs (not lucky enough to qualify for EOF though).

Oh and don't argue with your professor. I've done that and even when I proved I was right, it didn't matter. She had a grudge from that point on.


Your professor's arguments are so full of holes it's ridiculous. However, you need to learn how to think for yourself and I don't plan on helping you stick it to her.

Edit - I'm starting to think you didn't fully understand her argument. That's how much sense it doesn't make.


I would argue that a good part of that is more classism than racism though. A poor child of any race will not get the same quality of education as a wealthy child of any race. Even then it is not as simple as one label. If I'm willing to pay higher property taxes so the children where I live go to better schools it isn't racist or classist, it is simply a function of geography and income.

There is a junction of where racism, classism, societal responsibility, and individual responsibility meet. This is a complex problem that might not have a solution, but maybe it does.


...and speaking of Penn State:


Aside from what the OP has written I believe minorities are at a disadvantage in the work force. I've spoken to older guys who've stated they have worked in mid-size companies that still like to keep it "all white" (his boss stated this to him explicitly). It wouldn't surprise me if there were instances where an employer would read my ethnic name atop my resume and instantly thrown it away.