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Reproducing Racism How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage

The preceding chapter does not purport to provide a handbook for policy
makers to prescribe ways to dismantle feedback loops or to unlock
lock-in. Rather, it points to some very practical implications from the
lock-in model that policy makers will have to take into account.
First, time matters. The lock-in process is a dynamic one, and in the
case of racial disparity, time makes the problem worse. Where many
policy makers assume that the racial gap will eventually narrow, given
Becker’s arguments about the costliness of discrimination, the lock-in
model assumes that time will actually make things worse, as advantage
and disadvantage become further entrenched.
Second, the end of discrimination on the basis of race necessarily
requires more than the end of intentional discrimination. In the Court’s
recent decision in Parents Involved vs. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007),
Justice Roberts famously declared that the way to stop discriminating on the basis of race was to stop discriminating on the basis of race. The lock-in
model demonstrates why Roberts is wrong—facially race-neutral processes
like property taxes and job referral networks reproduce the discrimination
of the Jim Crow and slavery eras. Moreover, this book suggests that persistent
racial gaps in education, jobs, housing, and wealth are at present as
significant or more significant a problem than intentional discrimination.
Third and finally, the concept of critical mass complicates our predictions
about what might remedy persistent inequality. Recall from the
discussion about tipping points and Polya urns that the dynamics of
self-reinforcement frequently involve some dramatic phase transition
when the dynamic system hits a critical tipping point. In the urn example,
at some key tipping point the variation in the number of colored
balls settled down and became locked in.
This concept of tipping point and critical mass has significant implications
for remedy as well as cause. For example, a children’s trust fund
might be completely ineffective until the amount in the fund is large
enough to make college a real possibility, or to put a down payment on a
house. Short of that number, the children’s trust fund isn’t really likely to
do much work. Once the trust fund hits that critical number—whether
it be $80,000 or some other amount—change might begin.
In many conversations about public education, conservative commentators
and politicians have argued that money won’t solve the problem.
These commentators usually cite to the fact that some school districts
are enjoying a much higher per capita spending level than other
districts, with no appreciable difference in performance.
But if the system exhibits increasing returns or network effects, policy
makers might in fact have to throw a lot more money at the problem before
the money triggers real change. We understand this intuitively when it
comes to physical systems. When heating water, adding more heat might
make no appreciable difference for a long period of time until the water
hits a critical temperature and then begins to boil. In the same way, critical
thresholds might affect the points of change when it comes to persistent
racial gaps. Calculating those critical points constitutes an important
agenda for scholars of racial inequality to carry forward from here.


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Judul Seri
No. Panggil
Penerbit New York University : Bandung.,
Deskripsi Fisik
978-0-8147-7712-1 (h
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Tipe Media
Tipe Pembawa
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