racism rooted in society's history
Institutional racism (also known as systemic racism) is a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions.
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- Racism is both overt and covert. It takes two, closely related forms: individual whites acting against individual blacks, and acts by the total white community against the black community. We call these individual racism and institutional racism. The first consists of overt acts by individuals, which cause death, injury or the violent destruction of property. This type can be recorded by television cameras; it can frequently be observed in the process of commission. The second type is less overt, far more subtle, less identifiable in terms of specific individuals committing the acts. But it is no less destructive of human life. The second type originates in the operation of established and respected forces in the society, and thus receives far less public condemnation than the first type.
- When white terrorists bomb a black church and kill five black children, that is an act of individual racism, widely deplored by most segments of the society. But when in that same city—Birmingham, Alabama—five hundred black babies die each year because of the lack of proper food, shelter and medical facilities, and thousands more are destroyed and maimed physically, emotionally and intellectually because of conditions of poverty and discrimination in the black community, that is a function of institutional racism.
- When a black family moves into a home in a white neighborhood and is stoned, burned or routed out, they are victims of an overt act of individual racism which many people will condemn—at least in words. But it is institutional racism that keeps black people locked in dilapidated slum tenements, subject to the daily prey of exploitative slumlords, merchants, loan sharks and discriminatory real estate agents. The society either pretends it does not know of this latter situation, or is in fact incapable of doing anything meaningful about it.
- Reverend Barber, at one point during the debate, a fly landed on Pence’s head for nearly two-and-a-half minutes, prompting widespread commentary online. Professor Ibram X. Kendi, author of the best-selling book How to Be an Antiracist, tweeted, “As soon as Pence started denying the existence of systemic racism, the fly got him!”
- She (Kamala Harris) was fusion politics indeed. She was the second Black woman to be the vice president on a major ticket, first on the stage to debate. You know, I couldn’t help but go to the Book of Exodus, where it talked about where God said, “If you don’t let my people go, I’m going to cause flies to come as a sign of what’s wrong. But I won’t let the flies be on the people, but the fly will be a symbol that you’re just wrong. You’re lying. Let my people go.” And Trump and Pence need to let the people go. They’ve been holding poor and low-wealth people hostage, essential workers hostage. It’s time for a change in this country.