Today Is the end of my one-week challenge to provide examples of systemic racism. Here's a thread on what I learned.
People are very, very confident they know exactly what systemic racism means, and they can give examples right off the top of their heads. But people seem to have completely different ideas of the definition. What's that tell you?
I got lots of examples of systemic racism that would apply to all poor people. For example, if you live in a poor zip code, your school is probably underfunded, and that is hard to overcome. Is that systemic racism if it also applies to poor white kids?
I got lots of outcome-based answers. Some say it doesn't matter WHY the outcomes are different. It only matters that they are. That alone is proof of systemic racism. Is it?
Some say that non-racist systems (such as the legal system) produce systemic racism when populated by people who are biased but might not realize it. I'd call that regular racism within the context of a system. Is that systemic racism?
Before I blocked him for bad mind-reading in public, Tim Poole described systemic racism as, for example, getting behind in a small way (say a speeding ticket you can't afford to pay) that snowballs into larger problems. But wouldn't that apply to anyone poor?
I'm convinced that authority figures (teachers, cops, judges) do treat young African-American males differently on average. But how much science do we have about WHY? Seems to me that racism would be one of about fifteen variables to check.
In summary, I think everyone agrees that racism exists everywhere that people exist, which means every organization and system. And I think we all agree that anyone starting life at the bottom of the well, for any reason, will have trouble climbing out.
Persuasion-wise, "systemic racism" as a rallying cry probably makes things worse because it introduces a new thing to disagree about. But if tweaking our systems to add more checks against racism works, I'm all for it.
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