Denying systemic racism doesn’t make it go away

To the editor:

Did racial inequality in our country end with the Civil War? Sadly, no. Consider Jim Crow laws, the KKK, the GI Bill, and the treatment of the Freedom Riders. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Affirmative Action mandates minimally improved the racial inequities in our country. However, without changing the cultural norms and practices that still deny people of color equal access to jobs, health care, homes, loans, and other opportunities, inequality remains.

Denying systemic racism is an example of what author Robin DiAngelo calls white fragility, “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable [for white people], triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.”

The term systemic racism is only a loaded term to those who deny it exists. In sociological circles, it’s accepted as one of four types of racism: structural (systemic), institutional, interpersonal, and internalized (racialequitytools.org). Systemic racism is more common than we think; a good resource is found on the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream site: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism is Real– https://www.benjerry.com/home/whats-new/2016/systemic-racism-is-real

So what can concerned citizens do? Familiarize yourself with the issues. Educate yourself through tools like www.racialequitytools.org. Read books like “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. Begin community conversations on these issues. Request a yard sign from the Human Rights Commission (HRC). The HRC, in cooperation with the Greater Diversity Council of Mankato, is currently planning a series of community listening and training sessions. The HRC hopes to see many community members get involved.

New Ulm Human Rights


Larry Czer, Chair

Dan Kalk, Vice Chair

Wendi Ringhofer, Secretary

Jackie Krehbiel

Tim Frenning

Deanna Fenske

Sue Hunstad

Chad Gentz

Diane Hatman


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