Volunteer Discrimination


This Essay analyzes a debate regarding the potential racial motivations behind the new National Basketball Association (NBA) Dress Code. Specifically, this Essay examines whether the defense of the new NBA dress code by some Blacks—as pure business, free from racial discrimination—should be viewed as action negating other Blacks’ claims of improper racial motivation behind the policy. I contend that, rather than negating allegations of racism, the reactions of the policy-defending black NBA athletes and leaders only highlight the immense pressures that Blacks have in our society to perform their identity in a way that is racially palatable. In particular, I argue that what has occurred in response to the NBA dress code by some black players and leaders fits within three different categories of behavior that result in what I call “volunteer discrimination.” I then explain how these different categories of behavior, which I identify as the acts of accommodating, distancing, and resigned modeling, are actually further evidence of discrimination against minorities based on social constructions of race.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Labor and Employment Law | Law and Society

Date of this Version

August 2006