Article Title

Racial Cartels


This Article argues that we can better understand the dynamic of historical racial exclusion if we describe it as the anti-competitive work of "racial cartels." We can define racial cartels to include a range of all-White groups - homeowners' associations, school districts, trade unions, real estate boards and political parties - who gained signficant social, economic and political profit from excluding on the basis of race. Far from operating on the basis of irrational animus, racial cartels actually derived significant profit from racial exclusion. By creating racially segmented housing markets, for example, exclusive White homeowners' associations enjoyed higher property values that depended not just on the superior quality of the housing stock but also on the racial composition of the neighborhood. Describing historical exclusion as anti-competitive cartel conduct highlights three aspects of discrimination that other descriptions obscure. First, compared to conventional theory, a racial cartel story emphasizes the material benefits - higher wages, higher property values, greater political power - that Whites derived from anti-competitive exclusion. Second, compared to individualist accounts, the cartel framework emphasizes the collective-action nature of historical discrimination. Third, calling historical exclusion cartel conduct can help to reframe antidiscrimination law as a type of antitrust legal intervention, designed to remedy persistent effects of past anti-competitive exclusion.