In fact, whites pioneered quotas", "set asides" and "preferences" in numerous fields- none sadder than the injustice dealt to black railroad-men. This history has been documented extensively- see examples below for instance. Keep them in mind the next time you hear about "quotas."
Such suppression occurred not only in the south, but in the North as well. The North did not use open laws but subtle suppression. White unions for example forced blacks out of numerous jobs on the railroads. Black firemen, brakemen, switchmen and other technical personnel, good men who had performed well and played by the rules, men with years of seniority earned the hard way, were forced out and whites with less experience took their place. Whites pioneered affirmative action quotas in both the North and the South. In the North the quotas were disguised such as having 2 seniority lists- one for blacks confined to certain jobs, and one for whites, where all jobs were open. But no "official" law was on the books like in the South. Another dodge was to classify blacks at certain positions such as "porter" even as they did higher level work classifications. When time came for promotion, the "porter" classification was conveniently "not eligible" for certain promotions. Note- how there isn't an open racist rule- but systematically rigging the deck through contract provisions, work procedures etc to ensure that blacks were cut out of the action by the same people who in high dudgeon make pious pronouncements about "merit."
Even "non-racial" laws were manipulated by whites to make sure blacks did not benefit. The GI Bill for WW2 veterans for example was supposed to apply equally to everybody, but in practice whites sandbagged blacks who attempted to take advantage of it- for example some could only attend "colored" colleges with their GI Bill, but many of these same colleges were so small and under-funded, they could not offer a curriculum that would benefit the black veterans in the same way as whites. In other instances whites delayed college applications, refused to pass on information, and used a variety of other methods to sandbag blacks, particularly in the South. The New Deal, supposedly more liberal saw the same discriminatory methods. White made sure blacks got the minimum. (See for example: 'When Affirmative Action Was White" by Ira Katznelson, 2005)
Other government programs sought to cut or freeze blacks out. Social Security was used as a blocking mechanism- white southern congressmen made sure that agriculture workers and domestic workers were excluded from coverage. Since a huge number of people in these categories was black, the whites ensured that mostly whites would benefit, all the white speaking the soothing language of New Deal liberalism (Sowell 2004, 2005).
White corporations sometimes used the same tactics North and South. In the 1960s for example, some auto plants in the North refused to let black people enter the premises to make job applications. They said blacks had to have knowledge of a SPECIFIC job opening in a SPECIFIC department to make an application. Since these were often not advertised publicly the black applicant had no way of know what was open, and what was not. He could not go to Personnel and ask, because armed guards blocked his way. Meanwhile however, white applicants were waved right on through once the sandbagged black guy left. See Gavin Wright- Sharing the Prize for detail. There were the kind of sandbagging, and blockading tactics used by whites prior to the 1960s and into the 1970s before EEOC lawsuits exposed them and brought penalties
5h. When the above laws and restrictions did not work, whites used massive violence, from lynchings, to race riots, to ambush murders of black railroadmen to force them out ot certain jobs so whites could take their place.
[i]"The FEPC [Fair Employment Practices Commission] detailed in its summary, findings and directives the consequences for the negro workers of the agreement that was finally signed:
Under the [union] agreement.. it is apparent that the situation is only slightly less serious than that intended to be created by the Brotherhoods [unions].. white firemen are virtually guaranteed at least 50% of the jobs in each class if service, regardless of seniority, whereas there is no floor whatever under the number of Negro firemen. Secondly, the Agreement ended the employment of Negro firemen wherever their numbers exceeded 50% of the total, and despite the existing firemen shortage. The carriers and the union have preferred to struggle along with insufficient and inexperienced men rather than utilize the services of experienced Negro firemen ready and willing to work... the percentage rule and the provisions relating to vacancies and new runs have so greatly impaired the seniority rights of Negro firemen and inflated those of junior white firemen that the better jobs have become or are rapidly becoming the monopoly of the white firemen...
A Negro fireman's complaint against the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company stated... My bid [for an open job] was not recognized and the run was given to a junior white fireman. I was compelled to remain on my night job. I was not allowed to exercise my seniority against a white fireman no matter how short the period or term of his service."[/i]
--Herbert Hill, 1985, Black Labor and the American Legal System: Race, Work, and the Law. pp 348-351
[b]During the Depression, white quotas and special preferences fiercely imposed- [/b]
"In cities such as Atlanta, whites formed groups to ensure that whites received preference over blacks in service jobs that whites once disdained as "Negro work." By 1932, more than one half of black job seekers in the urban south were unable to obtain employment. To exacerbate the situation, local and state relief rarely extended to desperate African Americans. Even churches and charitable organizations sometimes refused blacks a meal i their soup kitchen or any other type of aid... Southern contractors and labor unions opposed the employment of blacks in Public Works Administration (PWA) contracts. Many of the programs wre operated at the local level, where officials felt free to discriminate against black applicants.. Even the Social Security Act of 1935 excluded farmers and domestic workers from its old-age pension program; a large percentage working in those occupations were African Americans. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), which aimed to provide relief to farmers, initially turned out to be one of the most detrimental programs for southern blacks. The AAA program sought to raise the dismal price of cotton by reducing the number of acres in production. This resulted in a mass eviction of as many as a half million black farmers..
Other New Deal agencies also maintained policies harmful to blacks. The Federal Housing Administration created under the 1934 National Housing Act, boosted the ailing construction industry while simultaneously encouraging residential segregation.. The agency also refused to grant African Americans mortgages on homes purchased in white communities. Agencies providing direct work on government-funded projects excluded blacks as well. The employment rolls of the rural electrification project of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) were less than 1% African American, and vocational schools and training programs of the TVA excluded blacks. In the Civilian Conservation Corps, one of the most prominent government programs in the rural South, only 5% of those enrolled were black in 1933. By 1935 a conference held in Washington titled "The Position of the Negro in the Present Economic Crisis" gathered prominent equality advocates.. The outcome of the conference was a resounding condemnation of every program of the New Deal as antagonistic to African Americans."
--Encyclopedia of African American History: 1896 to the Present, Volume 1. 2009.
edited by Paul Finkelma. pg 322-325
Note, none of the above is a brief for any of today's flawed affirmative action approaches, but just a bit of perspective on the bogus white innocence and hypocritical dudgeon against "the coloreds" proffered in some quarters.
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