Politics, Moderate



Make major purchases online to avoid discrimination

Esther J. Cepeda on

I hate even writing about this sort of thing -- to nonwhite readers it'll be completely self-evident to the point of absurdity (hey, let's read a report about the sky being blue while we're at it!).

And it'll be insulting to every white person who's also been treated poorly by a jerk down at their local car dealership.

But it's important to note that the slights people of color experience in places where whites have power over them are real. They've been noted, studied and quantified enough that the skeptics of the world can rest assured that this sort of mistreatment isn't just an emotional overreaction by people who are affected.

That said, now that I've raised public awareness of the discrimination people of color experience, let me suggest something to anyone who worries they might get taken at a car dealership: Buy your car off the internet.

When I bought my nearly brand-new car, I found it on the site of a popular used-car retailer with a locked-in list price. I reserved it, made my way to the dealer, signed the financing paperwork and drove off.

It only had a few thousand miles on it and looked pretty good, so I didn't even test drive the darned thing -- and it's been a super great, reliable car.

Mind you, this is not an adequate solution to the implicit biases that white service providers (knowingly or unknowingly) carry with them that end up disadvantaging nonwhites.

That problem will be fixed only when people of color fill up the ranks of car dealership owners, managers and salespeople at the same rate they exist in society at large.

Still, over-the-internet financing for large-ticket items favors people with decent credit regardless of skin color, accent or any other racial or ethnic signifiers. If you have the means, cut out the middlemen.

And if you happen to run into any car-dealership managers who are indignant that you're not shopping "locally," ask them how many people of color are on their sales staff and see where the conversation goes.


Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group


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