Rashawn Ray

American researcher

Rashawn Ray is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. Since 2017 he has been the editor of Contexts magazine, published by the American Sociological Association, with co-editor Fabio Rojas.


  • Unfortunately systemic racism seems to ripple through our social institutions and into our daily social interactions, whether in Congress or at a coffee shop down the street from the Capitol. [...] Systemically, we know that Black people compared to whites are more likely to attend schools with less funding per student, less likely to obtain a job because of our “Black-sounding” name or even when attending an Ivy League university, less likely to obtain a home loan (even when having the same credit score), have their homes appraised for equitable value, more likely to experience pregnancy complications and maternal mortality, and more likely to have contact with police and the criminal justice system. Systemic racism inhibits (rather than prohibits like in the past) people’s ability to actualize all aspects of the American Dream. This occurs even for highly-educated Black people with high incomes and no criminal record. In fact, research documents that white people with a criminal record are more likely to get called back for a job than Black people without one.
  • Systemic racism is not simply a thing of the past. It is up close and personal in the present. Racism may be no more transparent in an institution with the least representative racial progress like the Senate. There have only been 11 Black senators in roughly 232 years. Clearly, the Senate is the exact space we need people with the courage to say the blunt, honest truth about our nation’s past and present. Only then can we actualize a future where systemic racism does not exist. It is imperative for a truth, reconciliation, and reparative process to commence. This starts with atoning for the enslavement of millions of Africans whose descendants continuously fall systemically behind, whether they end up being the lone Black Republican senator or a Black police officer who might have the power to pull him over. We must have the courage to speak truth to power and one of the places it starts is in Congress. “If not now, then when?”
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