Political Discrimination vs. Market Discrimination – Walter E. Williams

by | May 6, 2023

Gross racial discrimination alone has never been sufficient to prevent blacks from earning a living and bettering themselves by working as skilled or unskilled craftsmen and as business owners, accumulating considerable wealth. The fact that whites sought out blacks as artisans and workers, while patronizing black businesses, can hardly be said to be a result of white enlightenment. A far better explanation: market forces at work.


The relative color blindness of the market accounts for much of the hostility towards it. Markets have a notorious lack of respect for privilege, race, and class structures. White customers patronized black-owned businesses because their prices were lower or their product quality or service better. Whites hired black skilled and unskilled labor because their wages were lower or they made superior employees.


People have always sought to use laws to accomplish what they cannot accomplish through voluntary, peaceable exchange. As will be argued in subsequent chapters, restrictive laws harm blacks equally, whether they were written with the explicit intent-as in the past-to eliminate black competition or written-as in our time-with such benign goals as protecting public health, safety and welfare, and preventing exploitation of workers.

– Walter E. Williams, Ph.D., Race and Economics

About Keith Knight

Keith Knight is Managing Editor at the Libertarian Institute, host of the Don't Tread on Anyone podcast and editor of The Voluntaryist Handbook: A Collection of Essays, Excerpts, and Quotes.

Our Books

latest book lineup.

Related Articles


Class versus Identity Politics?

Parts of the "left" and "right" often lament that class politics has given way to identity politics. I don't get that. Class was the original modern political identity, and state privilege was part of the cause. Libertarians and classical liberals long warned that...

read more

An American Bombing

The most mainstream documentary about the truth behind the Oklahoma Bombing is now running on HBO. An American Bombing is a great, if partial, vindication of the great work of Glenn and Kathy Wilburn, J.D. Cash, Roger Charles, Jesse Trentadue, Richard Booth, Wendy...

read more