Here I will be discussing the prevalent systemic racism in our society, you could consider this a continuation of my last systemic discrimination discussion regarding sexism. This is a social issue which I am more passionate about ,compared to systemic sexism, based on the fact that this issue has a direct effect on me, my family and some of my friends, but this will not open doors for bias on this topic or irrational reasoning, or at least I hope so- Similarly to my last blog on systemic sexism, I aim to prove its existence and its effects as well as introducing its polar counterpart which also must be recognised.
Firstly, I must state that systemic racism is not necessarily related to the typical type of racism most people talk about, this being individual racism – this was touched on my previous blog regarding reverse racism. How I would define individual racism is that it is a form of racism that refers to an individual’s racist assumptions, set of beliefs or behaviours and is a form of racial bias that stems from conscious and unconscious, personal prejudice. On the other hand, systemic racism includes the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups. It differs from overt discrimination in the sense that no individual intent is necessary. Institutional/structural/systemic racism (however you describe it is often the most difficult to recognise and counter, particularly when it is perpetrated by institutions and governments who do not view themselves as racist so what makes this form of racism so dangerous is the fact that it is implicit and normalised into our lives. This form of racism reinforces the disadvantage already experienced by some members of the community.
There is a good reason why I’ve introduced the term “individual racism” as this is to contrast it with systemic racism and to highlight the problems of just understanding individual racism and not its other counterpart. As stated before individual racism occurs on an interpersonal level – this sort of racism includes racial slurs, racial prejudice and hate crimes based on race; this is the form of racism everyone refers to when we claim something or someone is ‘racist’. The Race Relations Act was first implemented in the United Kingdom in 1965 to address racial discrimination, which was essentially made to outlaw the act of racism in public spaces, thus leading to the stigma and a socially undesirable view towards those who carry out individual racism over decades, as a result, giving some people the idea that racism was essentially abolished or less prominent in the past compared to now . The danger of this is it may make them blind and ignorant to the real threat of racism – systemic racism, it allows them to have the irrational excuse to trivialise and dismiss those who do actually experience racism making it difficult to even acknowledge the issue, let alone solving it.
To give what I have said some weight and backbone I will provide the best examples which portray systemic racism:
- In Canada, the Indian (aboriginal) residential schools were a network of “residential” (boarding) schools for indigenous Canadians.The policy was to remove children from the influence of their families and culture and assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture- cultural assimilation. Over the course of the system’s existence, about 30% of native children, (an estimate of 150,000) were placed in residential schools ; at least 6,000 of these students died while in attendance.
- The infamous Jim Crow laws were state and local laws enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. Racial segregation was mandated in all public facilities in states of the former States of America, starting in 1890 with a “separate but equal” status for African Americans. Conditions for African Americans were consistently inferior and underfunded compared to those available to white Americans. This body of law institutionalised a number of economic, educational, and social disadvantages.
- The apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid was a political and social system in South Africa while it was under white minority rule. Racial segregation had been in place for centuries but the new policy started in 1948 was stricter and more systematic. In the system, the people of South Africa were divided by their race and the races were forced to live apart from each other. There were laws that kept up the racial separation. The system was used to deny many rights of non-white people, mainly black people who lived in South Africa at the beginning of the apartheid times. The laws allowed the white people to keep the black people out of certain areas. Black people had to carry special papers or have permission to live and work in particular areas
- Redlining (particularly in Detroit during the 1960s) is the practice of denying services, either directly or through selectively raising prices, to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic makeups of those areas. While some of the most famous examples of redlining regard denying financial services such as banking or insurance, other services such as health care can be denied to residents.