No really – sociologist Andrew Cherlin’s argument is that white men are drinking and doing more drugs because they feel worse about themselves because (a) they’re not doing as well without the benefits of legal segregation and (b) they can no longer make themselves feel better by looking at blacks and Latinos. White men literally needed to oppress blacks and latinos to stay alive? If all of this is true why would it take until 2000 to kick in? Wouldn’t we have seen it sooner?
Why are whites overdosing or drinking themselves to death at higher rates than African-Americans and Hispanics in similar circumstances?
… here is one solution to the death-rate conundrum: It’s likely that many non-college-educated whites are comparing themselves to a generation that had more opportunities than they have, whereas many blacks and Hispanics are comparing themselves to a generation that had fewer opportunities.
But we size ourselves up based on more than just our parents. White workers historically have compared themselves against black workers, taking some comfort in seeing a group that was doing worse than them. Now, however, the decline of racial restrictions in the labor market and the spread of affirmative action have changed that. Non-college-graduate whites in the General Social Survey are more likely to agree that “conditions for black people have improved” than are comparable blacks themselves, 68 percent to 53 percent. [link]