How Race and Labor Economics Relates to Eric Garner

A few weeks ago former Mayor Giuliani claimed that Black-on Black crime is not addressed by Black leaders.  Not only is his statement not true, it is irrelevant.  Furthermore, the statistics describing intra-racial crime, 84% for Whites and 93% for Blacks, is not a huge difference. Intra-racial crime is expected to be high anyway because of the racially segregated society we live in. So why is America still racially segregated? Why are Black men shot by police officers disproportionately compared to white individuals? I believe that it involves the intersection of racism and basic labor economics.

Racial minorities may be defined as having traits that are highly visible, and those with more visible traits receive increased stereotyping and discrimination (Dworkin & Dworkin, 1999). Features between groups of individuals that are in sharp contrast strengthen the likelihood of both groups categorizing themselves in positive and negative ways.  Differential power, or unequal access to resources, further strengthens this effect leading to disparate treatment in every facet of the daily lives of people of color. The darker skin color of Black people is the most visible trait in contrast to all other racioethnic groups which leads to unique consequences for us in society.

The proof is in the data about how we are perceived. There are studies where viewers were shown images of a Black and White man scuffling with the former holding a knife.  A significant number of viewers, both white and Black, remembered the Black man holding the knife when asked although he was not.  There is also a vast amount of research that demonstrates the existence of disparities in hiring, wages, and treatment based on race.  Another study demonstrated that a White man with a felony has a greater likelihood to be hired than a Black man without one (Pager, 2003).  Other studies show that Black job seekers and students wishing to apply for graduate school are overlooked significantly compared to their white counterparts (see this link for a recent draft of the research paper   As a result, it is employment discrimination that causes a disproportionate percentage of Blacks to live in communities perceived as poorer than others. However, this is overlooked so that many equate poor, criminal, and uneducated with being Black. Overall, crime is related to socioeconomic status and not race as some try to portray.

Take Eric Garner for example.  I cannot speak for him, but as a Black man my experience informs me to believe that maybe he was allegedly selling loose cigarettes because no one would hire him for meaningful employment due to his race.  Eric Garner was not selling drugs.  He was not selling guns.  He was not pan handling for change.  Instead he was enterprising with the options he had available to him.  Such black market crimes are not monopolized by Black culture.  The first Italian, Irish, and Jewish immigrants in early American history also were enterprising and resourceful under the radar of the laws at that time because they also faced discrimination which limited their economic opportunities.  Unfortunately, Black people could not change their last name or bond with Americans under the artificially constructed “white” racial category  in order to mask our ethnicity and assimilate successfully.  As a result, while people from other ethnicities changed their circumstances, Black people could not due to discrimination based on our skin color.  This discrimination occurs until this day.

Eric Garner was someone who if given the chance would earn a living; but the harsh reality is that some people are afraid to hire a big Black man. The police are conditioned by media to be afraid of Black men.  That is why he was treated in that manner. I have been profiled many times myself, even while wearing a nice tailored suit.  We must eliminate discrimination in order to change the economic circumstances of people.  We must also change the way society and media criminalizes Black people so that we can prevent more senseless killings by police. Police training is not enough.  The mindset of everyone has to change. The next mainstream conversation has to be a candid one that is evidence-based including research because our naked eyes will miss it.  There are many individuals that refuse to believe that disparate treatment exists due to erroneous implicit biases that we hold. The following videos depict how suspects are treated nonviolently when they are not Black but armed:

This White Man Was Literally Beating Up Two Police Officers, But What Happens Next Is Astonishing

Now watch this video where there was no indictmentof the officers for killing Crawford who was planing to purchase a pellet rifle from Walmart.

And we have already seen the Eric Garner video tape where he clearly was unarmed and choked to death.

A discussion about the dismantling of a system based on race perpetuated by the media that permeates into the workplace is our only hope.  Until then, the cycle of discrimination to economic alienation to stereotyping and prejudicial violence against Black people will continue.

3 Ways How Poor Managers Make Their Employees Useless


There is a saying that if you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.  That can translate to mean that successful leaders understand that good decisions are made by drawing from the intellect surrounding them.  As the leader you do not have to always have the solution to every problem.  If that truly is the case then why do many manager choose to either misjudge or not capitalize from the valued resource of human capital surrounding them?  Here are three mistakes that poor managers say or do that underutilize their human resources:

1) “Do not approach me with problems unless you also have a solution.”

I hear this all the time from managers, and I made this mistake myself when I was a younger manager.  What managers do not realize is that this statement sets up barriers between themselves and the people who work for them.  First, all your employees may not be as “brilliant” as you to develop a solution.  Furthermore, research shows that the best solutions are derived from multiple perspectives, so bringing a problem to your attention adds an additional perspective to deal with the issue.  Second, over time your employees may stop bringing problems to your attention which is something you definitely do not want to happen.  It is better to know there is a problem and not have a solution for it, than to not even realize that a problem exists.  When challenges are brought to your attention, make those moment opportunities to address the issue utilizing the experiences of your employees.  Respond in a more non-threatening manner.  Ask the person bringing the problem to your attention, “What do you think we should do?” If they say they do not know, ask them to think about it and get back to you while you do some problem-solving on your own.  If it is time sensitive and you must solve the problem before they get back to you that is fine.  At least you made a learning moment out of it for your employee, and possibly their idea they bring to you later on may be useful in the future.

2) Overlook older workers and people with disabilities for training and advancement.

Guess what?  You can teach an old dog new tricks.  The idea that older workers are not as trainable as younger workers is a myth.  Actually, older workers are experience lower turnover than younger workers.  By 2030, people over 65 will comprise 20% of the population. As a result, older workers are increasingly retiring later and re-entering the work force after retirement because they are living longer. So in other words, all that expensive training you spent on some of your younger workers may walk out the door as they hop to their next job.  And you thought they were a better choice due to their age (which is illegal by the way).  People with disabilities are also stigmatized as those who cannot work, and their unemployment rate exceeds 50 percent.  However, many people with disabilities want to work.  While some employers believe they cannot accommodate their needs, most disabled workers need no accommodations or the cost of accommodations in most cases is less than $500. Disabled workers are also less likely to quit.  Lastly, limiting the labor pool from which to select employees for training or advancement is a mistake as it lessens your chance of picking the best employee for the position.

3) Speaking first while problem-solving with subordinates.

Even when you believe you have the right answer, it is wiser to let your employees speak up first.   It will allow them to develop themselves as critical thinkers and problem solvers.  You may also stifle creativity and influence your employees to not offer their perspectives by causing “groupthink” to occur where there is a breakdown in the decision making process.  When you offer your ideas first, it sets a tone for some that your opinion is the one that matters the most.  Some leaders can be admired to the point that “yes” men and women develop in their organization. Your employees may have better ideas than yours but may keep them to themselves because everyone wants to please you “the boss”.   Over time, innovation is lost because your staff may either want to always follow your lead or stop coming up with their own ideas all together.