Definition of institutional racism
A form of racial discrimination existing even today, this discrimination means racism perpetrated by government entities such as courts, schools, police and military. It affects the lives of people from a particular race in a negative way.
Such outlook still hails in many mindsets of the American population, where white people still discriminate against the blacks. Various laws and legal scenes are evident of the fact that institutional racism is present in America. This has led to various minorities receiving substandard treatment today, including blacks, Arabs and south Asians. Due to institutional racism, even the law system does not provide pure justice to some sects of society, leaving them in despair and feeling neglected.
There have been a number of movements and revolts against racism in the history of the world, many leaders have come up from various societies, voicing the problems of their people. Yet, the issues have not been much solved, as there are various scenarios where racism can be experienced.
Some of the examples are given below from United States of America, which indeed prove existence of discrimination, leading to institutional racism.
1. Slavery in America
Slavery continues to give a cause to racist attitudes and racial discrimination across the world. The blacks have been suppressed in the society in various ways, and have been one of the most severe victims of slavery. Many Americans would like to remain tight lipped when asked about basic facts about slavery such as how it began, how were they treated in America, how it ended etc.
Slavery is one of the prime reasons why people still have racist minds. History has a role to play in each of what we do and think today.
2. Racism in medical sciences
A number of cases come up in the field of medicine regarding racism, be it today or decades ago. Some of the most shameful parts in the history of America involve the government funding the studies which allowed poor black people in Alabama to succumb to syphilis, Guatemalan prison inmates, mental health patients. In the worst cases, they even let the soldiers fall prey to the disease and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Some of the discrimination comes up even today, where the privileges are given to the white people.
3. Unequal security checks
This is some of the most alarming scenarios today, where people from particular race such as Middle Eastern and south Asians are targeted and forced to undergo vigorous security checks at the airport, which does not happen as such for the white people. The people from the Middle East have been especially a victim of such harsh treatment by the security forces. Had there been a real strict security, would they not be checking each and every person through the same process?
Such treatment definitely reflects the racial mindset which still overrules the laws and equality in some cases.
4. Law and judgments
It is not a new thing to hear that the laws turn out to be much severe for the blacks in America than compared to others. Reported cases of jail for years more than the whites for the same crime depicts institutional racism. During court sessions and hearings too, the privileges is given to the white people, disrespecting the black society and the people are made to feel ashamed due to their origins or ethnicity.
5. Racism and church
Even the church too has been polluted by the racial discrimination. Many Christian denominations have apologized for discriminating among people on the basis of color. The United Methodist Church and the Southern Baptist Convention are some of the organizations which have been involves in racism, and have apologized for the same in recent years.
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And this is not all! Statistics reveal that there are a lot many more cases which hint at injustice towards blacks, even today. Black children are likely to be suspended more than the whites, making up a shocking 40% of all school expulsions. The juvenile system sentences black children more than the white children to be behind bars during adulthood. It makes up nearly 60% of the children in prisons, which are black.
At the workplaces, black students have to struggle more to find a job as compared to the white students. The discrimination has gone to a level where even the ‘black sounding names’ have sent out 50% more job application than the competing ‘white sounding names’ to get a call-back.
Another study reveals a shameful fact that if a black person is convicted for murder of a white person, he is twice as likely to be sent for a death sentence as compared to if a white person is convicted for killing a black person. They are 38% more likely to receive a death sentence, when compared to the whites.
The laws are the same for all the people living in the country, yet the outcome is highly dangerous and full of discrimination against some people. And if the law too supports it, it clearly indicated that people continue to live with the mindset of discrimination, where the blacks are considered to be inferior, counterpart to the superior white people. Knowing that it is not the right thing, yet people follow the same trail.
There surely should be a way to end institutional racism, for everyone has equal rights to live free. It won’t end up all in a night, but taking steps towards a racism free society would definitely help towards it.
Some of the areas which must be improved and made racism free are discussed below:
1. Changes in criminal justice system
A good place to begin with will be the law system, since most of the discrimination happens here itself. Following are the targets for policy changes:-
- Police stops and arrests: crime severity, controlling for suspect demeanor, evidence present at the crime scene and other factors in a study had a higher chance of being arrested, as compared to the white suspects.
- Punishment conclusions: black have been disadvantaged as compared to the white people in terms of pre-trial detention, plea offers and sentences of incarceration.
- Unequal imprisonment of black men: African young men who have dropped out of high school, approximately 38% were imprisoned in the year 2008, compared to less than 1% of the general population.
While the white population enjoy the best of the facilities offered in healthcare, the black people are condemned to face harsh situations in the same. Cost barriers have a key role here to play which affects the blacks more severely than the whites. Black patients have rated their doctors considerably low in terms of patient centered care and communication, all of which are taken are for the whites. Scenes really need to be changed in this sector strictly, as health must never be a factor to discriminate among people and make them deprived of their basic rights.
Segregation must be ended in the schooling system, where most of the schools still practice racial discrimination. White students’ enrollment in private, magnet and charter schools has led to discrimination against the black students.
Every child has a right to education, regardless of color, ethnicity and class. And school is the place where children receive their education and expand their knowledge. If such an institution too is contaminated with racial mindset, a society can never grow equal and healthy. Also, it is observed that black students are treated with higher severity as compared to their white counterparts. Such issues must be solved strictly, maintaining equality among all the students.
The number of black unemployed people is much higher than the white ones, and the difference between the earning of blacks and whites is also a tremendous one. While a white man may be handsomely paid for a job, a black man might be paid less for the same, commonly.
There can be steps against racial discrimination in the U.S labor market. The fair employment protection act introduced in 2012 but not enacted would be a help to eradicate such barriers. Similarly, the fair pay act can amend the fair labor standards act of 1938 to abolish discrimination in payment on the basis of color, race, ethnic origins etc.
And this is one of the quarters where most of the racist activities show up, where some people are treated with unnecessary severity just on basis or color or national origin. Immigration laws have been used since long to grade and eliminate people on a racial basis. In the present times, Muslim citizens are condemned to face harsh treatment for immigration process, post 9/11 attack. Back in the 1990s, after the fortification of the US- Mexico border, Mexicans were criminally prosecuted for illegally crossing the border. Such perspective which builds upon hatred towards a particular section of society must be abolished soon, since everyone has a right to live free with dignity.
Throughout the history of the world, there have been activities which exclude some people of equal rights. Be it the blacks, south Asians or Middle Eastern races, there has been an existence of racial discrimination all the time, and is still prevalent today. A free and equal society is what everyone looks forward too, where there is no difference in the wages of same class workers and no innocent ones are treated harsh while airport security checks.
See more on Price, A. J. (1997) Human Resource Management in a Business Context, International Thomson Business Press
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