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Last Friday (May 3), The U.S. Department Of Labor released its jobs report for the month of April, revealing positive gains in employment. With 165,000 jobs added in the month, the unemployment rate dropped to its lowest rate in four years. However, African-American and Hispanic job seekers are still the hardest hit groups with a rate of 13.2 and 9.0 percent, respectively.  Could this trend be a symptom of poor social networking among Blacks? 

A recent opinion piece from the New York Times seems to suggest this angle as a possibility. As part of its The Great Divide series, the column takes direct aim at an unspoken practice amongst employers that uses a fine line to escape illegal discriminatory practices.

The column’s author, Rutgers Business School professor Nancy DiTomaso, made waves with her book The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism last December. She asserts that Whites in managing positions simply hire within their own race based on stronger networking.

From DiTomaso’s piece for the Times:

Because we still live largely segregated lives, such networking fosters categorical inequality: whites help other whites, especially when unemployment is high. Although people from every background may try to help their own, whites are more likely to hold the sorts of jobs that are protected from market competition, that pay a living wage and that have the potential to teach skills and allow for job training and advancement.

Nepotism and favoritism is at the top of DiTomaso’s argument and she provides research and data that speaks to her claims that the practice isn’t racist. Instead, she believes that because of the ties Whites have in their networks, they’re able to get inside tracks on jobs where White managers have sway over the hiring process.  But what’s most curious is DiTomaso’s statement that the practice of Whites hiring Whites is not the same as racial discrimination and further adding “it is not illegal.”

While there may be some weight to DiTomaso’s observation, what lingers is the possibility that White managers are ignoring qualified Black and Hispanic workers simply because they don’t attend the same social mixers. This speaks to the exclusion of several of groups of people who don’t have a pathway to success because they’re not given a fair opportunity. If the federal government can address the trend of nepotism within its ranks, why then are private organizations held outside that standard?

Do you think that White managers are practicing a form of hidden racism in their hiring practices? Is it as simple as knowing the right people and being the right skin color for a job? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: Justin Sullivan

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