institutionalized racism

Racism is not dead. There, I said it. If you think it is dead, you can thank white privilege for that. It is easy to overlook institutionalized racism when you are white because it is something you never have to think about or deal with on a regular basis. Racism and discrimination is so ingrained in our society that it has become normalized. We flip on the tv and when they talk about people of color living in poverty, suffering higher rates of incarceration, suffering higher high school drop out rates… We shrug our shoulders and think that is just the way things are. We don’t even bat an eyelash. Surely it has nothing to do with the fact that racial profiling is prevalent in the police force. If you look at statistics, white people are actually more likely to be drug abusers/ sellers than black people yet time and time again, people of color are singled out and thrown into jail, specifically at a rate of nearly 6 times the rate of white people. White people are also 6 times more likely to be murdered by another white person as by a black person. We have policies in place such as the “Stop and Frisk” policy which has proven ineffective, humiliating and not to mention it specifically targets people of color by racial profiling.

We are a society obsessed with bootstrapping. But since the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968, tell me how one is to pull onself up by their bootstraps when housing discrimination STILL runs rampant in our country? White people slowly started moving to the suburbs and with them, job opportunities did, too. When people of color live in such poor conditions due to zoning and segregation, they then in turn go to schools where the teachers are underpaid, the material is outdated, and the technology is sometimes nonexistent. This has nothing to do with them not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. This has everything to do with institutionalized racism.

The point of my post is not to throw a bunch of statistics your way but to show the staggering differences between white people and people of color. It is easy to say “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” when you have opportunities knocking at your door. Is it easy to say “no” to affirmative action when the playing field is wide open to you. Understand the system is flawed. These enormous disparities are caused by an ugly, racist history that no one wants to talk about. When we can have an open and honest conversation about these things, I think we can finally make progress. Okay, baby steps. When everyone is paid a living wage (did I mention that black people earn considerably less than their white counterparts or could you infer that by now?) and offered the same equal opportunities, THEN we will have made real progress.

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