Open Letter to Nancy DiTomaso

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.


About 11again

Used to be an academic... now I'm a washed up academic. I like cooking, blues music, black writers, and morally compromised people of all persuasions.
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2 Responses to Open Letter to Nancy DiTomaso

  1. calichick99 says:

    Hi Marc,
    Thank you for your response. I have been working within HR for the last few years and some of the hiring practices have been quite sobering. Many companies are relying on employee referrals for many of their open positions. More often than not, whites are hiring whites – hands down. I participate in many chats with more experienced HR professionals and this ‘networking’ term is so commonly thrown around to job-seekers needing advice. How does one connect to a network in any given field that are regulated predominately white people. When talking with my friends, I have used the term – the new jim crow – because that is what it is. I have seen so many Hr people blatantly employing questionable practices that are borderline illegal when it comes to hiring. Many of the people have even gone as far to state that skills don’t matter anymore. The name of the game is ‘cultural fit’, his is just coded language. After a lot of thought, I think that HR has become the toxic gatekeeper that is aiding in biased and prejudicial hiring practices.

    • 11again says:

      I’m sure HR is every bit as bad of a thing as you say it is and needs to be eradicated. In fact, it would probably do the world quite a bit of good to simply outlaw business schools. That being said, we also need to ask the question (that DiTomaso leaves completely unasked): why are there so few jobs? If 8% unemployment is the new normal, and it is, then we need a radically different social contract which asserts that YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXIST whether or not you can find one of these “jobs” that are often times more fictional than real. Another statistic I heard: only 3% of online job listings ever hire someone who applies online. Forget raising the minimum wage. We need a guaranteed wage for everyone in this country.

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