Reproducing Racism

How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage

205 pages

January, 2014

ISBN: 9780814777121



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Daria Roithmayr is the George T. and Harriet E. Pfleger Professor of Law at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. An internationally acclaimed legal scholar and activist, she is one of the country’s leading voices on the legal analysis of structural racial inequality. Prior to joining USC, Professor Roithmayr advised Senator Edward Kennedy on the nominations of Clarence Thomas and David Souter, and taught law at the University of Illinois.

All books by Daria Roithmayr

This book is designed to change the way we think about racial inequality. Long after the passage of civil rights laws and now the inauguration of our first black president, blacks and Latinos possess barely a nickel of wealth for every dollar that whites have. Why have we made so little progress?
Legal scholar Daria Roithmayr provocatively argues that racial inequality lives on because white advantage functions as a powerful self-reinforcing monopoly, reproducing itself automatically from generation to generation even in the absence of intentional discrimination. Drawing on work in antitrust law and a range of other disciplines, Roithmayr brilliantly compares the dynamics of white advantage to the unfair tactics of giants like AT&T and Microsoft.
With penetrating insight, Roithmayr locates the engine of white monopoly in positive feedback loops that connect the dramatic disparity of Jim Crow to modern racial gaps in jobs, housing and education. Wealthy white neighborhoods fund public schools that then turn out wealthy white neighbors. Whites with lucrative jobs informally refer their friends, who refer their friends, and so on. Roithmayr concludes that racial inequality might now be locked in place, unless policymakers immediately take drastic steps to dismantle this oppressive system.


  • "A tremendously important examination of the racial disparity in achievement in America; one that tests the reflexive assumptions of both liberals and conservatives on the subject. Roithmayr's sobering read on our inequality gap—its roots and its lingering effects—should be required reading for anyone who believes in simple causation or easy fixes for the equality gap. This is a clear-eyed, and often brutal look at whether America is indeed 'post-racial' and what we must demand of ourselves to get there."

    —Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor, Slate

  • "Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock in White Advantage by Daria Roithmayr, argues that racial inequality lives on because white advantage functions as a powerful self-reinforcing monopoly, reproducing itself automatically from generation to generation even in the absence of intentional discrimination." 

    Z Magazine

  • “This is a well-researched and thought provoking analysis of the legacy and complexity of racism that has broad implications for American politics and social policies.”

    —Vanessa Bush, Booklist

  • "The disadvantaged status of many blacks and Latinos is an enduring problem. Legal scholar Daria Roithmayr gives us profoundly important leverage on the 'locked-in' nature of American racial inequality. Her accessible and ably documented book shows how the historic works of 'racial cartels' like the Jim Crow system gave white Americans a now self-reinforcing and troublingly permanent economic advantage in life. Critically, she shows how today’s ostensibly race-neutral processes of family inheritance, social network ties, and institutional practices and meritocratic standards make racial inequality automatic. This book is a necessary antidote to all the nonsense talk of post-racialism."

    —Lawrence D. Bobo, W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University

  • "This book, which builds on an already impressive body of work by Professor Daria Roithmayr, deserves to be widely read. It is methodologically serious and theoretically rigorous."

    —Gerald Torres, Bryant Smith Chair in Law, the University of Texas at Austin School of Law

  • "The most persuasive argument I've yet seen for why racial inequality persists and what we can do about it. Well-written, well-researched, and well worth reading."

    —W. Brian Arthur, External Professor, Santa Fe Institute

  • "Offers an explanation of the operation of race that transcends and incorporates the best extant scholarship on the issue."

    —Steven Ramirez, Loyola University Chicago