In a well-known academic journal, the editor faces calls for resignation after condemning protesters for trying to describe the police as “flat earthers.” Global protests looking for an end for structural injustice against Black Americans have brought new impetus to economic racial reckoning, a white men-dominated practice following decades of attempts for opening up greater opportunities for non-white men and women.
A huge proportion of economists are trying to seek for dislodging the editor of such a well-known academic publication, Harald Uhlig, the economist of the University of Chicago, after criticizing on Twitter the members of “Black-Lives Matter” community being equated with “flat earthers” because of their calls acceptance for defunding departments of police. Days ago, the de facto leading body of the profession, sent a message to its associates endorsing protestors and stating that “we have just begun to recognize racism and its effect on our field and discipline”. Last week, economists group, many from outside the academic world, organized an online fundraising campaign for the Sadie Collective.
Black economists believe the incidents have provided some change to a sector that has always struggled for its ranks with prejudice — and with several of its members failing to accept prejudice across the world. However, the profession is nowhere near a huge-scale shift upon racial issues: Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters on Wednesday, “I don’t actually believe that there’s systemic racial prejudice in the US”.
Since campaigns against racism have risen in recent times, a debate has exploded — mostly headed by black economists — about how the scarcity of equity has rendered the discipline ill-equipped for just a moment when politicians are searching for suggestions about how to counter racial disparity in crime, education and other fields”. This also occurs in these uncomfortable and unpleasant cases of police where we find ourselves, having to explain why it is exactly these actions of discrimination and prejudice”.
Mr. Uhlig’s twitter messages blamed protesters for refusing to organize the latest protests through law enforcement agencies before criticizing Black Lives Matter and calls for police protection. The posts attracted a rapid backlash, which includes backlash from many white Chicago colleagues, and a request calling on him to quit his Journal of Political Economy editorial office, considered to be among five journals having an outsize presence in the sector.
Mr. Uhlig made an apology for his twitter messages Tuesday evening. “Racism and discrimination are wrong”, Mr. Uhlig says in a statement. Later on, he also said, “I really want to have several more Black economic experts as our Ph.D., undergraduate students, and as faculty members. It’s my feeling the decent ones are widely desirable after. In our colleagues, we had few American Indians too. We have to find a reasonable way to improve those figures”. Some Democrats praised Mr. Uhlig as a free speech advocate and a target of” cancel culture “— while critics said they’re not demanding his removal from his tenure track professorship. Critics, however, held up Mr. Uhlig as a case of white economists profoundly ingrained advantages, containing almost complete influence over the academic journals that decide and determine, in their publication selections and choices that help economists to receive acclaim, top jobs and tenure.
Economics does have a long history of racism and, in certain cases, racism in its own right. In 1962, George Stigler, an early member of the American Economic Association and Nobel laureate, opposed the human rights struggle and argued that the disadvantages of African-Americans on the job market largely stems in turn through their “inferiority as an employee.”
“He would not be the target of employer rivalry if he lacks schooling, lacks tenacity of intent, lacks the ability to work hard,” he argued.
Today few scholars would have used that language. However the ideas continue to exist: Economics academic journals are still full of papers emphasizing differences in upbringing, education, education or even IQ, as compared to structural barriers or discrimination.