Politics, Moderate



Make major purchases online to avoid discrimination

Esther J. Cepeda on

CHICAGO -- It's hard for people to be empathetic about racial and ethnic discrimination if they've simply never experienced it themselves.

The very fact that they've never been mistreated, disrespected or given less leeway because of the color of their skin or an accent makes it difficult to believe such slights actually happen.

Or maybe these people have been mistreated and disrespected in the past and, therefore, are highly skeptical of the idea of having "white privilege."

But, time after time, studies of everyday, human behavior show that white people do enjoy a real advantage -- if not in an individual sense, then at least as a part of their larger demographic group.

Case in point, the most recent entry in an ever-expanding body of research illustrating how people of color get the short end of the stick in everything from job opportunities to health care to housing -- a report titled "Discrimination When Buying a Car: How the Color of Your Skin Can Affect Your Car-Shopping Experience."

The research was conducted by the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Center for Responsible Lending, two nonprofit organizations. They sent eight pairs of white and nonwhite testers to car dealerships in Virginia to inquire about purchasing the same vehicle.

The findings detail how nonwhite testers who had better financial qualifications than their white counterparts received more costly pricing options 62.5 percent of the time. This would have resulted in nonwhite testers paying an average of $2,663 more over the life of the loan than less-qualified white testers.

More insidiously, the report found that 75 percent of the time, white testers were offered more financing options than nonwhite testers, and dealers went out of their way to help white testers in ways that they didn't for nonwhites. For instance, in this study, dealership staff attempted to "bring down interest rates and car prices using incentives and rebates or by making phone calls to personal contacts for white testers more often than they did for nonwhite testers."

Perhaps worse -- and least surprising to any person of color -- the study found that in addition to the pricing differences, "nonwhite testers were subject to dismissive and disrespectful treatment more frequently than white testers."



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