Institutional racism still with us today
To the editor:
A recent editorial stated “racism is not an ‘institutional’ aspect of life in the United States.” That statement demonstrates either a lack of knowledge or a willful denial of reality.
Institutional racism refers to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. It is embedded in all aspects of our society–employment, housing, the criminal justice system, the education system, and the healthcare system. Historical examples include the Jim Crow laws that legalized segregation; restrictive covenants and bank lending policies that effectively banned people of color from the more affluent, white neighborhoods; and underfunded, segregated schools.
Unfortunately, institutional racism is still with us today. Unbiased studies continue to show all these racial discriminations:
1. A criminal justice system that penalizes minorities more harshly than white people for committing the same crimes
2. Selective enforcement of criminal laws
3. Schools that prosecute misbehavior by students of color as aggressive and criminal but the same misbehavior by white students of whom it is often said “come from good families” is considered part of normal youth development
4. Colleges and universities use of legacy admissions that primarily benefit white people
5. Voting restrictions enacted under the guise of electoral integrity but are intended to, and often do, reduce minority voting
6. Lending institutions that charge higher interest rates to black applicants even though they have the same credit scores as white applicants
7. Employers who won’t interview job applicants with black-sounding names, even though they have identical qualifications as those applicants with white-sounding names
8. A society that treats minority drug use as a crime but treats drug use by white people as a health issue needing rehabilitation
9. A healthcare system that ties insurance to employment when minority unemployment rate far exceeds the white unemployment rate
10. A child welfare system that intervenes more often in the lives of minority families than white families who have the same issues
This isn’t fake news. These are just a few examples of the policies and practices that continue to maintain advantages for white people while systemically disadvantaging people of color.
The Journal’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of institutional racism and its impact on our society shows how far we still must to go to create a fair society with liberty and justice for all.