This pretty much reflects how I feel about the issue, but said much better and with more completeness than I did:
Would free markets have been enough to break this long history of governmental force in support of racism? I would like to think so – but I also know that the libertarian solution requires a population of rational actors prepared to look out for their own economic interests. You let me know when you find a species that fits that model.
In my experience most extreme libertarian solutions require rational actors. Libertarians assume that most people are like themselves, when they generally aren’t. I still believe in small government, but I no longer care to go through mental gymnastics to try to figure out how to implement private market solutions to problems that Government is probably the only real viable solution. Anarchocapitalism is also one thing I’ve never really understood. To me it makes the same mistakes as to human nature that communism does.
Either way, when I was in high school I used to work in a union shop, in a job that was menial but was not union. The place never had an official policy of not hiring blacks, because that would be illegal, but I can tell you that no blacks worked there. I can also tell you that this wasn’t an accident. This is a shop that had serious problems getting and retaining good employees. Part of the issue is that people in hiring positions there felt that we can’t have “those people” coming in and taking our “good union jobs.” Maybe it’s gotten better since the late 80s, early 90s, but one of the reasons I’ve become so anti-union in my adulthood is because of what I witnessed growing up.
Uppity Northeasterners, who’ve never had to work in those kinds of environments, often like to pat themselves on the back that the North never implemented the kind of institutionalized racism that those cousin humping rednecks down south did. That is only superficially true. The North had, and probably still has plenty of institutionalized racism. We’re just better at hiding it.