Racism Chasing: The Business of Discrimination (or how Black Folks get “played”)
Racism chasing is not a term I came up with. I first ran across the term on a blog authored by a brother out of Atlanta who goes by the handle Constructive Feedback. His blog is named Politics, Policy, Pathology and Hope WITHIN The Black Community.
Constructive Feedback defines “racism chasing” as the proclivity of some African-Americans to see our problems as being strictly related to racism. This results in our strategies and initiatives being strictly related to stamping out racism while neglecting the very real issues we face which have more to do with better choices and holding people accountable. I refer to this as spending 90% of the effort on 10% of the problem. I don’t deny that racism is alive and well, all I’m saying is that it’s not the biggest challenge we face today.
Racism chasing is not only largely ineffective in addressing the issues of the African-American community, but it’s used against us to the extent that we wind up getting played and we don’t even know it. While we’re busy being victims, other folks are more than happy to continue positioning us as victims so they can get paid and if necessary, they’ll help us chase racism if there’s a pot of gold in it somewhere.
With that introduction, let’s talk about the business of discrimination.
Here is an excerpt of an article from the New York Times written back in 2003:
NISSAN SETTLES BIAS SUIT BY MINORITY BUYERS
BY JONATHAN D. GLATER
PUBLISHED: FEBRUARY 21, 2003
THE FINANCE UNIT OF NISSAN MOTOR HAS REACHED A TENTATIVE SETTLEMENT WITH BLACK AND HISPANIC CAR BUYERS WHO SAID THAT THE COMPANY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST MINORITY CUSTOMERS BY CHARGING THEM HIGHER INTEREST RATES.
UNDER THE TERMS OF THE SETTLEMENT, THE CARMAKER’S FINANCE UNIT, THE NISSAN MOTOR ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION, WILL OFFER PREAPPROVED LOANS TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF CURRENT AND POTENTIAL BLACK AND HISPANIC NISSAN OWNERS, AND WILL LIMIT HOW MUCH IT RAISES THE INTEREST CHARGED TO CAR BUYERS ABOVE THE COMPANY’S MINIMUM ACCEPTABLE RATE. THE FINANCE UNIT WILL ALSO CONTRIBUTE $1 MILLION TO AMERICA SAVES, A NONPROFIT PROGRAM THAT TRIES TO HELP LOW- INCOME PEOPLE SAVE AND BUILD WEALTH
General Motors, Ford, Honda and Daimler Chrysler have faced similar suits. At issue is the fact that interest rates on auto loans for blacks have been marked up at rates greater than that paid by whites. Car dealers are allowed to mark up your interest rate if you obtain financing through them and this is an additional source of profits when selling you a vehicle. What happens is this: the dealer runs your credit and based on that they get an interest rate quote from Nissan Motors Acceptance Corporation of say 10%. They’ll mark it up and set up the loan for 15%, thereby earning additional profits on the spread.
Sometimes when reading the newspaper, you can run across an article that seems like it confirms the existence of widespread discrimination. It’s like, yeah, we know “they’re” racist, so discrimination is no surprise, so most folks are just inclined to be thankful that we have those who are altruistic enough to fight it by bringing lawsuits.
But is this really what is seems? Is it a case of discrimination or a lack of knowledge? Who got the financial benefit here from the class action lawsuit? To put it more bluntly, who got “paid”? Let’s deal with the last question first.
Who Got Paid?
I’m sure that you’ve gotten a notice in the mail where you’re were a party to a class action suit unbeknownst to you. The notice instructs you to sign it and mail it back and you’ll get $ 10 within the next couple of months. It’s found money, so undoubtedly you happily complied.
Class action lawsuits work like this: someone brings suit on behalf of a large group of people, or what’s referred to in legal parlance as a class. Normally, the potential claim that any individual member of the class has is too small for a law firm to earn much in the way of fees to represent that person alone. However, if you put a bunch of folks together that have the same claim, the situation becomes far more lucrative even if the settlement that each individual may get might be something like ten dollars. All you need to bring a class action suit is a few folks of the class who are willing to participate.
The law firms in the Nissan case received about $6.5 million to “represent us” and per the terms of the settlement, a non-profit got funding to the tune of a million dollars so they can “train us how to handle our money”.
What did you who were “discriminated” against get? Well, per the terms of the settlement, hundreds of thousands of black folks got the chance to buy another car with pre-approved credit. Your interest rates will still be marked up, but this time they’ll be limited to 3 points over the quoted rate from NMAC. Basically, even Nissan, the defendant in the lawsuit, turned this thing into a marketing opportunity to sell more cars. Ironically, by the time they sell black folks “hundreds of thousands” of new cars with “pre-approved” credit, we will have effectively paid the lawyers and everyone else. Undoubtedly, the settlements with the other auto companies are similar.
Again, “you” were “discriminated” against, but someone else got paid, and you get the chance to finance the whole deal by buying another car, but wait, it gets better.
How did this even come up, particularly when most lenders rely on credit scoring and loan applications generally don’t include race of the applicant? There was a statistical analysis done to racially recode the loan documents based on state motor vehicle records which revealed a statistical aberration where black folks getting charged more and some lawyers, being the ambulance chasers altruistic good business people they are, got wind of the information and decided bring suit against the industry. From there, it was a simple matter to recruit some folks with a promise of money to stand in as plaintiffs. The named plaintiffs in suits got somewhere between $ 5,000 to $ 20,000, a mere pittance.
What’s the take away here? There’s frequently an economic agenda behind our victimhood and our pain. Altogether too often, our position is akin to sheep just waiting to get shorn of our wool and unfortunately, we don’t even realize that we just got fleeced. As long as one is a victim writhing in pain from “racism”, there’s always someone around with an elixir to solve the problem. Those who have the elixir to sell you are hoping you never stop feeling that way because that’s going to disrupt their meal ticket. This is frequently the charge laid at the feet of folks like Sharpton and Jackson, but the racism chasing industry is far larger and more diverse than just those two.
Was it Discrimination or Lack of Knowledge?
I don’t buy cars frequently mainly because I hang onto them for 8-10 years to get my money’s worth. I also generally do not buy them new, because the discount on a used one is just too good to pass up. When I decide it’s time to get another vehicle, I know what kind I’m going to get, what I’m going to pay and I have the financing lined up before I arrive. This means that I don’t get “sold” a vehicle, I purchase one. They hate to see me coming.
Did you know that you are not required to use the car dealer’s financing and that you can arrange for your own which allows you to comparison shop? Did you realize that even if you get socked with a high interest rate that you can refinance your car loan just like a mortgage? No one need be stuck forever with paying high interest if they’re aware they can refinance their car loan.
Knowing that you can shop rates and refinance your car loan are the best weapons against “discrimination” of this sort. As a matter of fact, those weapons ensure you, rather than other folks, get “paid”. There’d be no need for lawsuits paying attorneys or million dollar grants to non-profits to train you if you deployed your weapons. There’d be no need to force Nissan, GM or Ford to do what you armed with knowledge had the power make them to do already.
Staying out of the “Box”
There’s an economic agenda that revolves around many things that concern us whether it’s crime, racism or victimhood. That agenda requires our unwitting participation and arises wholly from the fact that an internal agenda to address real issues doesn’t exist. The agenda for black folks always seems to be around the removal of racism and if that’s not removed, there’s little that we can do.
I see that as a “box” that imposes limits and positions us to be “serviced” in a variety of ways. Of course, when someone services your perceived needs and problems, they expect to be paid. I can’t fault someone for that because it’s up to me to position myself differently and begin to address my own needs and my own problems.
It’s the area outside of the confines of the “box” that holds the potential solutions to our problems. To see them, our thinking must be “out of the box”. That sort of thinking is solely needed in our community otherwise we’ll still continued to be played while others are laughing all the way to the bank.