Week 2 -Brooke W- Structural Racism

Structural Racism, Defined–  

Institutional and structural racism go hand in hand in my opinion. When the higher political powers of society control the economic structures of a group of people, they are able to impose a specific set of beliefs that are either explicit or implicit in the effects that they have on marginalized people. It is evident in the treatment of people of color within schools, hospitals, jails, and the overall management of institutions that certain groups of people were meant to be excluded or treated differently than those in power who set up these conditions. For example, redlining and denying black people housing loans creates geographical structures that are motivated by race and have consequences for people of color and the poor.  

 

Two Quotes 

“Even though African American families had a larger percentage increase in net worth than white families between 2013 and 2016, the average wealth gap grew because white families’ wealth in 2013 was so much greater than African Americans’ wealth. Average wealth increased about 35 percent for African Americans in that time frame, compared with 28 percent for white families.”   

(https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/50-years-after-martin-luther-kings-death-structural-racism-still-drives-racial-wealth-gap 

This quote does a great job of putting structural racism into perspective, because even though African Americans have increased their wealth at higher rates than other races the structure of economics still proves that the wealth gap exists in favor of whites.  

“Systemic racism persists in our schools, offices, court system, police departments, and elsewhere. Why? Think about it: when white people occupy most positions of decision-making power, people of color have a difficult time getting a fair shake, let alone getting ahead.” 

(https://www.benjerry.com/home/whats-new/2016/systemic-racism-is-real) 

Ben & Jerry’s did an exceptional job of explaining why structural racism persists, and I like this quote because they are simply an ice cream company, yet they are informing the general public on issues within society. Wealth, employment, criminal justice, healthcare, and surveillance are only some of the topics with which they proved structural racism to be true.  

 

Three Facts 

1) Healthcare 

  • A 2012 study found that a majority of doctors have “unconscious racial biases” when it comes to their black patients. Black Americans are far more likely than whites to lack access to emergency medical care.  
  • Even black doctors face discrimination: they are less likely than their similarly credentialed white peers to receive government grants for research projects. 
  • Facing a lifetime of racism leaves African Americans vulnerable to developing stress-related health issues that can lead to chronic issues later in life. 
  • Several medical journals have just published guidelines for doctors with titles like “Dealing with Racist Patients” and “The Discriminatory Patient and Family: Strategies to Address Discrimination Towards Trainees.” 

2)Employment 

  • The black unemployment rate has been consistently twice that of whites over the past 60 years, no matter what has been going on with the economy (whether it’s been up or down).
  • Blacks with college degrees are twice as likely to be unemployed as all other graduates.
  • Job applicants with white-sounding names get called back about 50% more of the time than applicants with black-sounding names, even when they have identical resumes.
  • Since 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] has received over 45,000 complaints that are directly related to racial discrimination.

3)Incarceration

  • Blacks make up 13% of the population, yet they represent about 40% of the prison population.
  • If a black person and a white person each commit a crime, the black person has a better chance of being arrested.
  • Laws assigned much harsher sentences for using or possessing crack, for example, compared to cocaine.
  • Finally, when black people are convicted, they are about 20% more likely to be sentenced to jail time, and typically see sentences 20% longer than those for whites who were convicted of similar crimes.

 

This is What Structural Racism Feels Like 

 

I am choosing to expand on this portion of structural racism, because it effects so many aspects of the black family dynamic. Not only does it impact the entire family and leave the children with less of a support system, but it also has a great impact on dating for African American women. This fact disturbs the culture of African American’s in the United States greatly, as we have the highest incarceration rate of all developed nations.  

Women suffer greatly when men are incarcerated, and the stress that this has on black communities is evident in the behavior of some members. I selected this topic, because the treatment of black inmates inside jails in especially detrimental to their health and has effects on their personal lives even if they are released from the prison system. Though the public has been made aware of this issue, the laws and legislation of the thirteenth amendment that were reinforced and protected throughout the War on Drugs is and can affect the black community for generations in a similar manner to slavery.