April 30, 2007

Urban v. Suburban Travel: Diversity in ownership v. diversity in employment

It's often remarked that the commercial environment that the business traveler in America confronts is remarkably uniform: all across this vast land of ours, he'll find the same rental-car companies at every airport, the same hotel and restaurant chains off every interstate. Moreover, these firms strive to deliver a uniformity of service - every contingency is anticipated in a binder and the response pre-programmed.

In contrast, in certain big cities, typically ones with huge immigrant populations, there are far more unique restaurants, hotels, and shops. This is frequently extolled as a shining benefit of diversity and perhaps it is.

But let me ask a question of all the nice liberals that I haven't heard mentioned before: As you travel, look at the workers you come into contact with and ask: On the whole, where do African-Americans find employment? In boring old corporate chains or in funky diverse one-of-a-kind establishments?

The answer appears to be titled heavily toward the Amerisuites and Alamo rental cars and Ruby Tuesdays. Just as African-Americans have long done relatively well in the peaceful, clerical side of the U.S. Army, where everything is spelled out in endless detail ahead of time, they tend to thrive better on the job in big chains with cookie-cutter manuals, and bureaucratic hiring procedures.

In contrast, unique urban establishments tend to have fewer blacks working for them relative to the size of the nearby black population. Immigrant owned businesses tend to hire other people, especially relatives, from their immigrant groups and white business owners tend to find they're more comfortable bossing around immigrants, even black African immigrants, than African-Americans.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

This is frequently extolled as a shining benefit of diversity and perhaps it is.

Nowadays "diversity" is a synonym for massive non-white immigration. And regardless of one's opinion, we don't need to demographically transform the country in order to experience this "shining benefit".

Anonymous said...

I don't know about diversity, but better restaurants is a shining benefit of living in a cool city like NYC or even DC.

Anonymous said...

New Orleans had the best restaurants in the world, I know. I lived there for 3 years.

It was also (this was before Katrina) the world's worst craphole.

I'd seen plenty of poverty in gang infested neighborhoods in Santa Ana, Baldwin Park, and South Central LA.

NOTHING and I mean NOTHING prepared me for New Orleans. NOTHING. Open drug deals, they would not even hide it, on upper Canal street past the tourist section. One time I drove past Magazine where people were stripping the clothes of a boy who'd been shot on his bicycle (which had already been stolen). This by some nice restaurants.

New Orleans woke me up on many of my idiot assumptions. It was the most brutal and corrupt city I'd ever seen in the US. NOPD cop Annette Franks (she killed her father, buried him under her shotgun house, killed her partner who was off-duty security during a robbery).

And she was hardly the worst New Orleans had to offer.

Michael Vassar said...

Good restaurants in DC? Not many.

Anonymous said...

What Steve says is true, and it reminds me of something. Last year I ended up on the mailing list for a 1 year anniversary party for this chocolate company in Manhattan that claims to "celebrate culture and diversity" : SweetRiot. Then I looked at its employee bios and photos (this was before they hired the one Mexican woman).

I sent an e-mail to the CEO, mentioning that, for a chocolate company that values diversity, her staff looked pretty vanilla. Never heard back.

Anonymous said...

New Orleans wasn't exactly a great example of diversity. Most of it (except for the Garden District and the French Quarter) was pretty homogeneous: black and broke.

Anonymous said...

Very true Dave. My larger point was ... you can't eat at those great restaurants if you are dead.

Speaking of which, at ALL the top end restaurants, I mean Emerils and Upperline and NOLA and Commanders and Brennans and Galatoires and Antoines etc ... there were big surprise not too many black people working there. Those that were seemed to be in the back no surprise. Only older black guys seemed to be out front.

And NONE ZERO ZILCH NADA in the Vietnamese or Thai restaurants which true to form had their relatives working.

Anecdotes are not the plural of data, but I have not seen anything to disprove Steve's questions.

The chains that I've stayed in by contrast had lots of Blacks working in them. Same for Hertz and Avis, etc.

Anthony said...

In the Bay Area, there's a (good) hsmall hamburger chain called "Nation's". There are so many blacks working there that I thought it was black-owned, but apparently it is not. It's not a big chain like McDonalds or In-N-Out - there are maybe 20 Nation's total. And it seems like 2/3 of the employees are black.

Your question begs a different question - why aren't there that many black-owned restaurants? Some comedian joked that white people renamed some streets after "Brother Martin" not to honor him, but to let white people know where to get good barbecue. The barbecue places I've been to in Oakland are all-black, and I'd be willing to bet that everyone working there is as related as those working at Thai restaurants. Barbecue is tasty - why aren't there more barbecue restaurants?

Anonymous said...

I don't know about diversity, but better restaurants is a shining benefit of living in a cool city like NYC or even DC.

I like eating out occasionally too. Something different (not necessarily "better") is part of that, and this variety is due, in large part, to "diversity", i.e. non-white immigration. But as I said: we don't need to undergo a
demographic transformation in order to enjoy that. Because such a transformation has other, distinctly adverse consequences.

Anonymous said...

In the UK, black employment is heavily weighted toward public service jobs, especially the NHS and local givernment. Needless to say, they know which side their bread is buttered on.

Anonymous said...

shigalov brings up a very good observation that is true here in the States: Blacks are to be found in the public service sector. It's as good a situation as one can find: they make really good money relative to their skills, on average, and the employer doesn't have to worry about lawsuits when it comes to firing them. The government also doesn't care so much for quality.

Which makes the situation Steve laid out, which seems mostly true judging by the bohemian shops I used to frequent and still do on occasion, even more odd: Those small businesses and companies don't have to fear a lawsuit due to their size while those chain places have every reason to be scared and worry about quality.
(My baby sister just left a job w/ Brighthouse whose management at her branch looked like something out of a brochure with a multi-culti celebration: gay, black, hispanic, etc. with not a single white male. Quality suffered. I guess they put them in positions where they can do the least damage, but fend off lawsuits.)

Anonymous said...

"Good restaurants in DC? Not many."

Many great Thai places. I like Typhoon near Dupont Circle. I love The Grill From Ipanema. Not only is the name great, the food is pretty good also.

I'm getting hungry thinking about all that great food.

Anonymous said...

I agree with shigalov and Anon (8:47) about blacks in the public sector. I used to have a job that involved phone calls to state tax agencies. Unless it was Utah or someplace similar, the voice ALWAYS seemed to be that of a black woman.

This raises another point - while black Americans have enjoyed the reputation as great creative improvisers in the arts, entertainment, and sports, why do so many of them opt for mind-numbing jobs that require so little creativity and almost never reward it?

If anything, I'd agree with Steve that black American cultural interests are narrowing - and certainly so among poorer blacks, a frightening number of whom seem to know and understand absolutely nothing beyond prevailing ghetto fashions.

Anonymous said...

I've worked way too many call center jobs in the last ten years and am usually one of the only white males in the place. (I'm somewhat physically disabled) It's heavily female and heavily black. I think blacks do better in call centers because they are capable of repeating scripted or otherwise dictated answers to callers regardless of the obvious unsuitability or wrongness (technical, logical or moral) of those answers. In many cases, they just don't know any better. In others they know but can't personally empathize with the unfortunate caller-especially, but by no means exclusively, if the caller is non-black and/or non-female.

It no longer even surprises me to hear a large black woman, who is nearly always a faithful churchgoer and sometimes Minister of Music or some such, to talk about Jesus and His wonderfulness one minute and tips on boosting from Target the next. Or black young men with tattoos saying how they are Saved discussing which of several of the women in the department over (mainly white or light skinned black) can perform certain acts the best. There is a total disconnect between these two things for most of these individuals.

The news that the call center business is coming back to America is mixed blessing. It beats working fast food, but not by a lot.