What is Systemic Racism?

Systemic racism is simply an ingrained racism at all levels of society. The sociologist Joe Feagin, in his book “Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, & Future Reparations”, developed the theory of systemic racism and summarized it as racism in all social, political and economic institutions, structures and social relations all inside a company. Scholars like Oliver Cox, Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, WEB Du Bois and Kwame Ture have supported research and development of this theory. Feagin has conducted comprehensive research and analysis that led to his conclusion that the US foundation is racist in nature and manifests itself in institutions, practices, policies, ideas and behaviors that favor the majority of the white population at the expense of other races.

Cost of systemic racism in the United States

Since whites enjoy political, social, economic and cultural power, they have some privileges not available to People of Color (POC) due to racist social systems that lead to routine discrimination. The majority of the white population also opposes the diversity programs of the United States in the fields of education and employment and often states that it is a reverse racism. Slogans such as “Black Lives Matter” do not remain unanswered as some members of the white population usually respond with slogans such as “all lives count” or “blue lives matter” without an underlying reason for the slogans. Systemic racism has repercussions on the POC especially on the blacks they include; shorter life span, lower income and wealth, limited access to quality education, limited political participation, inferiority complexes and State-sanctioned killings by the security organs, among others. Worse still, the whites still expect the POC to have the burden of proving racism even if whites contribute more to the vice. After providing evidence, POC still has to bear the backlash of further charges and excuses that follow.

Examples of systemic racism in the US judicial system

Although it is a politically controversial topic, there are overwhelming data supporting the idea that the US judicial system is racist, particularly with regards to targeting and punishing African-Americans. Looking at the data on police stops, shootings, drug arrests, rescue processes, legal representation, trial, conviction, jury selection, freedom and words, a tendency towards partiality appears. Regarding drug use, African Americans make up 13% of the population and 14% of drug addicts, but 37% of drug-related arrests and 56% of drug-related inmates. In New York, people of color make up 50% of the population, but Latins and Blacks make up over 80% of NYPD stops. Indeed, in most American cities, blacks are probably three times arrested compared to whites.

During a trial, African Americans are more likely to be incarcerated while waiting for the trial than whites, and since most cannot afford to hire lawyers, underpaid and unmotivated public defenders are more likely to defend such cases . The data from Alabama also indicate that a higher representation in the jury is white, especially in cases involving the death penalty while the United States Sentencing Commission reported that blacks tend to receive 10% longer sentences than whites for the same crime. The US Bureau of Justice and Statistics indicated that 32% (one in three) of blacks, 17% of Latinos and 6% of whites have the opportunity to be arrested. With a population of young blacks of 16%, they represent 28% of arrests and 37% of prisoners.

by Abdullah Sam
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