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Institutional racism exists

To the editor:

The editorial “Institutional Racism, We don’t Think so Joe” presents us with a perfect example of today’s racism. Many think of racism as overt displays (i.e. name-calling, segregation).

Institutional Racism otherwise known as systemic racism is more challenging to see and correct because it involves whole institutions. Institutional racism is reflected in disparities regarding wealth, medical care, criminal justice, employment, housing, and education. Yes, laws and policy have made institutional racism wrong in many instances, however, just as laws haven’t eliminated issues with driving, drugs, and violence neither has systemic racism.

The NAACP reports that African Americans and Hispanics makeup 32% of the population, but comprise 56% of incarcerated individuals. In case you are thinking that that’s because minorities commit more crimes, We would challenge the reader to think about the crimes they have committed in their lifetime. There is no pass or excuse for shoplifting those baseball cards when you were 10 or drinking before you were 21. In fact, it’s known that African Americans use drugs at similar rates as White people, but are 6 times as likely to be incarcerated for that use.

Minnesota is a great place to live! According to statistics reported in City Pages, Minnesota ranks 47th out of 51 (including DC) for income disparity between White people and People of Color. But we excel in education, you say! We’re ranked #50 regarding who holds at least a high school diploma. We’re #44 in regards to our efforts in making our state more equitable.

African American, Native American, and Alaskan Native women are 3 times as likely to die from complications of pregnancy according to the CDC. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists acknowledged racial bias within the health care system as a contributing factor.

Attitudes expressed in this troubling editorial hold our community back. Tim Wise, anti-racist writer and educator suggests our good intentions are not enough. We need to actively individually and collectively fight racism. We would encourage readers to support the incredible work of our community organizations that are working to combat racism. Check out the Mankato area YWCA’s eliminating racism projects, or Greater Mankato Diversity Council. New Ulm Forward and New Ulm’s Human Rights Commission are other ways to be part of the solution!

Katie Dorschner

Alma Marin-Holmquist

Mindy Kimmel

Anne Donnelly-Rieke

Ginny Walters

Barb Hillesheim

Judi Nelson

New Ulm

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