Dear Prof. DiTomaso,
I was deeply disheartened to read your op-ed in The New York Times. I very much wish that you would reconsider the fundamental perspective of the work that you are doing. I feel that, as it stands, your work provides a deeply myopic and ultimately misleading idea of how white supremacy functions in the present context. If I’m being particularly generous, I’d call your work a missed opportunity. Social networks do indeed play an immediate function in determining hiring and ties of association do indeed lead those on the inside of social hierarchies to hire people who look like them without ever having to think of themselves as racist. Of course. So what’s the problem I have with your work then? The glaring fact that the segregation of social networks takes place in, by, and through white supremacist violence.
As I see it, to leave your argument as it stands is to ignore, dismiss, and obfuscate the very real violence that is inflicted upon persons of African descent in this country everyday, especially at the hands of law enforcement and under the auspices of The Drug War. In fact, you provide cover for white supremacist violence by perpetuating the tragically false idea that racism just happens magically. I fear that such an argument is little more than an attempt at a self-fulfilling prophecy, one which, even if we were to accept, only makes us less able to address the issue in a real way.
You need to dig deeper. How did social networks get so racially segregated in the first place and how are they kept that way today? You need to examine the manner in which The New Jim Crow, geographical segregation, and the gross racialized disparities in the educational system relate to the division of social networks that you encounter. Otherwise, you’re just giving white people an excuse for not redressing our society’s blatantly white supremacist outcomes and I find that abhorrent.
I hope that a public apology for the misleading nature of your arguments will be forthcoming. In any event, I very much hope to dialogue with you on this matter further as I feel profoundly unsettled by your grievous erasure of the systematic violence that provides the essential basis for white privilege.