Seven Ways Racism Is Built In

1. WEALTH GAP: The playing field is not level. The median wealth of a white household in the United States is over 13 times that of a black household, and the gap is widening. Most black households have less than $350 in savings. It takes money not just to make money but to get a start, to live near good schools, to live free of lead paint poisoning, or to address the special needs that every person has.

2. EDUCATION: Black students are three times as likely as whites to attend schools where fewer than 60 percent of the teachers meet all the state certification and licensure requirements. This is a crude measurement of how some of our schools are even worse than others, but it’s a good one. Such a situation is driven by the disparity in wealth noted above, by segregation, and by racist attitudes that accept it.

3. JOBS: The employment game is rigged. Identical resumes and job applications result in 50% fewer calls from employers when the applicant’s name sounds black. Whether those choices are conscious or intentional or thought through is not terribly relevant. This sort of experiment has been run numerous times with the same result. An African-American trying to find a job must face all the usual hurdles, plus possible hurdles created by wealth disparity (such as lack of transportation, lack of prior friendship with insiders, lack of education), plus the racism of many people who read and consider resumes. As a result, the unemployment rate for blacks is twice as high as for whites.

4. COSTS: Banks both fail to make the same number of fair loans in predominantly black neighborhoods and concentrate predatory loans that unfairly strip the borrower of equity in those same neighborhoods. Blacks are charged prices roughly $700 higher than white people when buying cars. Not only is it very expensive to be poor, not only has poverty been criminalized so that people are ending up in jail for the inability to pay a bill or a fine or a traffic ticket, but racism tends to exacerbate all of these problems if you’re black. One of many ways it does this is by making you more likely to be given a fine or a ticket in the first place.

5. POLICING: Punishment is disproportionate. African American students are more likely to be punished harshly — with suspension or arrest — than whites. Black drivers are twice as likely to be pulled over by police, and three times as likely to be searched during a stop. Blacks are four times as likely to experience the use of force during an encounter with police, and black male teens are 21 times more likely to be killed by police. The police have been militarized especially in black neighborhoods, and the military training appears to have a significant impact. The provision of weapons of war to police has accelerated under both Bush and Obama. Here’s one way to push back.

6. WAR ON DRUGS: Blacks do not use more drugs than whites but are far more likely to be arrested, more likely if arrested to be prosecuted, more likely if prosecuted to be prosecuted for a felony, and more likely if convicted to be given a harsh sentence. African Americans are imprisoned at six times the rate of whites. Upon release, the “felon” label further slants the uneven field. Of course we need to end mass incarceration entirely. The point here is just that it has a racist impact.

7. MEDIA: The U.S. media subtly promotes racism through what it includes, what it excludes, and whom it chooses to treat as a human and whom as a monster. Of course, no one has to believe what their television says, but everyone must engage in constant re-education to correct for it.

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  • jimmydominic

    great article!

  • hidflect

    I think this identifies the very real, problematic and structural issues about race and in doing so pushes back against the insidious counter-argument from the Right stating that voices on Black issues are vectoring from a complaint culture long corrupted into sloth by generous entitlements.

  • MrLiberty

    This would have been a far better article if it had bothered to point out the role government has played in many of the factors cited. Education is 95% government controlled and these monopoly schools are a failure for just that reason. Not only is the money stolen from everyone, but nobody can take back their money to send their child somewhere else if they wish. Wealth is transferred from the middle class and poor through the hidden tax of inflation orchestrated by the government-protected Federal Reserve. Savings have been destroyed not just through the artificially low interest rates that benefit their friends, but also through the destruction of purchasing power of the dollar (99% loss since the Fed was created). Jobs and their availability is directly impacted by government in that protectionist measures are put in place to limit company formation, minimum wage rates prevent unskilled labor from ever getting a foothold on the ladder of growth (thus hurting the very people they claim to be helping, and protectionist licensing laws further prevent qualified folks from working and prevent customers from freely being able to choose a service provider. Banking in the US is the greatest government-protected criminal enterprise there is. There is absolutely NO freedom for legitimate and honest banking to operate in this country. On the other hand, risk of non-payment will always be a factor in interest charges so personal responsibility for one’s debts will remain critical no matter what. Policing and the war on drugs run hand-in-hand. Police are anther government monopoly that could very easily be provided through a competitive, open, and free market in security services that individuals, homeowners, businesses, etc. contracted with. Government uses the police as its army of occupation to enforce its revenue enhancing schemes while not being held to any true responsibility for public safety (several Supreme Court decisions). Among the many horrible laws the government has passed that violate freedom and liberty are the wars on drugs, prostitution, gambling, and other consensual “crimes.” Blacks are correct to see these wars targeting them over whites. The statistics bear this out. The Media is nearly all owned and controlled by 6 major corporations that are predominantly white-owned. The lies about blacks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lies and propaganda the media put out on behalf of the interests of their owners. Conveniently these medal corporations are also the same people who control the government so the cycle is complete.

    So these factors are only “built in” so long as we continue to allow the government to use its power, violence, and control to insure that the fundamental changes cannot take place. And by the way, despite the statistics pointing to greater impacts being felt by blacks, EVERY American, regardless of their race, is negatively impacted by these factors (except of course those who control the government and directly benefit from them being in place).