Systemic Racism In The United States

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The United States is a melting pot of countless different cultures and races, and they are all given equal rights under the law. Ideally, this means that all people would be treated equally, but there are still many instances of racism that occur every single day. However, these instances aren’t as obvious as racism was in America’s past. They happen subtly but still have a great impact on society. According to Solid Ground, systemic racism, or institutional racism, is “the systematic distribution of resources, power and opportunity in our society to the benefit of people who are white and the exclusion of people of color”. Systemic racism stems from the long history of racism that the United States has been involved in throughout its history. The implications of this are widespread. A very clear imbalance is seen between white and black people when considering issues such as food insecurity, health and environmental justice, youth incarceration, and the growing gap between rich and poor. Today’s American culture having been influenced by racism explains why this is happening.

Although many efforts have been enforced to promote equality among all races, the existence of widespread segregation in America’s history, such as slavery, has had long-term, damaging impacts on society. Just because laws were put in place against segregation, that doesn’t mean people’s opinions and views on different races change. That is apparent in countless aspects of American culture where white people are dominant over black people. Racial stratification and disparities occur everyday in healthcare, education, employment, housing, and many other sectors that are vital for success in today’s world. In the late 1800s, there was an incident where many qualified black veterans were denied a disability pension by the Union Army. According to ThoughtCo, “In the 1930s, the Tuskegee Institute conducted a syphilis study on 600 black men (399 with syphilis, 201 who did not have it), without patients’ informed consent and without providing adequate treatment for their disease”. To this day, the Tuskegee Institute Syphilis study is the longest non therapeutic experiment conducted on humans in medical history, and strikingly displays the exploitation of African Americans in medical settings. Not only was this treatment extremely unethical, but it is also illegal, yet the doctors who conducted it were never penalized. These incidents and ones similar to them are not uncommon throughout America’s history, and their impacts continue to show up in today’s society. Racial bias continues to make what is easier for white people harder for black people.

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Not only does America’s history of racism impact the world today, but there are multiple reasons why racism continues to thrive in our culture. Examples of racism are seen in today’s music, television and social media - three incredibly influential and popular outlets which consume the majority of many people’s attention every day. Sociologists have studied how television shows, movies, media discourse, and video games relate to emotion in the workplace, structural practices, class formation, and racial stratification. They developed the Racial Formation Theory to better understand why our society is the way it is. The Racial Formation Theory, according to ThoughtCo, is a sociological theory that “focuses on the connections between how race shapes and is shaped by social structure, and how racial categories are represented and given meaning in imagery, media, language, ideas, and everyday common sense”. One dominant aspect of media which racism is found is in music - specifically hip-hop. Hip-hop is associated with racial divisiveness, violence, drug use, and the over-sexualization women, specifically black women. Yet it is still one of the most popular music genres across society, and especially in the upcoming generation. As stated in the Sociological Journal article titled Racial Formation Theory and Systemic Racism in Hip-Hop Fans’ Perceptions, by Ginger Jacobson, “Researchers suggest that the psychological health of black adolescent women- in terms of self-esteem and self-image- is affected by mass media images of black women”. The fact that a huge part of our culture promotes songs clearly advertising black women in a sexual manner puts them at a significant disadvantage to white women from a self-esteem and self-worth standpoint. This nurtures a culture that continues to live out the racist ways of our ancestors, sometimes without even realizing it. Systemic racism recognizes how white people have created racial oppression by collectively organizing social structures and everyday practices to their own advantage and to the disadvantage of nonwhites, and not necessarily in a malicious manner. There are, of course, still racist people in America, yet through research it has been found that the majority of Americans consider themselves non-racist. This being said, they still promote and practice behavior apparent within systemic racism.

As stated in Title VII and the Civil Rights Act, segregation in public places was deemed illigal on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Despite these laws, major inequalities still exist within American culture. Countless factors contribute to why this has happened, but there are also many solutions that can tackle systemic racism. Addressing the root cause and identifying conditions that lead to inequalities is the first step. Working to improve these inequalities both internally within yourself and externally throughout the community hinder the unintentional behaviors which are racist in nature. In a culture of growing diversity, being aware and held accountable of accidental racist behaviors will become more and more vital, especially within the professional world. Simply being aware and furthering one’s understanding of what systemic racism is and how it can be prevented creates change.

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Systemic Racism In The United States. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
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