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Modern Institutional Racism

by on November 12, 2013

I don’t normally stray away from economic issues on this blog, but because I am in school and I have lacked in posting economic pieces here.  So I am going outside my comfort zone and posting a paper that I had to do for my Psychology of Racism class.  The class has been eye opening to me, it is something that all people of all races should take in order to get a better understanding of what racism is and what it does to harm humanity.  But you really don’t have to take the class to get an idea of what I learned this semester.  I will list the sources that we used in class in order for the reader here to get the same information that I received at the end of this piece.  So here it is:

“The “Crips and Bloods” movie was a great eye opener for me in many ways.  I was always curious as to how gangs began in some of our major cities and now I believe I have a pretty good answer to that.  It is obvious that institutional racism took a strong hold in the 1960’s and 1970’s when the Civil Rights movement took place.  This is when blatant “old fashioned” racism was almost extinguished through legislation, and “modern racism” began to take hold in America.  Gone were the days when people could be open with their racist attitudes and thus it created a system of modern racism, that wasn’t very obvious and took time to become what it has created today.

This could be a case where modern racism may have actually created a worse situation for the African American community that lives in high crime areas of inner cities.  After the movie was over I was shocked about how many people in my classroom have been affected by violence in Chicago’s south side.  In the past Chicago didn’t have this black on black violence before the Civil Rights movements.  I have an in-law who is black and lived in Chicago during those times and she confided in me that the black community in her era was relatively peaceful and there were no gangs around.  She did mention that on cases where she would end up in a white neighborhood she did receive threats of violence and even had one incident where a bat was thrown through her car window.  So an interesting swap of violent actors occurred since then that could be attributed to modern racism.

Modern racism is hidden by the naked eye because it happens slowly and through the justice system we have in the United States.  With stereotypes existent in both the police force and in the judicial system it has created a class of black America who spends their lives worried about being jailed, as the movie pointed out how 1 in 8 African Americans are in jail at any given time.  And this isn’t because the African American community commits more crimes; it is because they are targeted more and once arrested having a higher incarceration rate.  This is what today “modern racism” looks like.  They are no longer being forced to use separate bathrooms or being told to sit in the back of the bus.  Instead we are jailing them and when possible putting them away for life or giving them the death sentence.

How are we supposed to expect any person or race to avoid joining a gang when we incarcerate their fathers, and there is a high risk of death?  Where are they going to go to when they need that father figure?  As a society we can’t eliminate the gang problem until we eliminate the institutional racism that pervades our country.  As a white person it was not something that was easy to grasp, that there might be institutional racism and white privilege that we all implicitly benefit from.  It is now apparent to me that these things do exist, and that there needs to be something done about it.”


“Crips and Bloods”

“Black Like Me” by John Howard Griffin

“Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” by Beverly Daniel Tatum

“Are we Born Racist”, by J. Marsh


  1. Linear permalink

    “And this isn’t because the African American community commits more crimes; it is because they are targeted more and once arrested having a higher incarceration rate.”

    Why wouldn’t it be both? When you look at the proportional murder rate, for example, it is hard to conclude that blacks are just being targeted more or that targeting is even a dominant factor. Higher incarceration rates may be due to more context than just the charges brought, along with some stereotyping.

    That, in turn, draws into question the tortured logic required to categorize black-on-black violence as caused by white institutional racism.

    Are you critically examining what you are being taught?

  2. If we are talking about just murder specifically, race is likely not the issue. But that is just one crime of hundreds.

    When we look at drugs specifically, race is definitely an issue.

    “Drug Sentencing Disparities

    About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug
    5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites
    African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.
    African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months). (Sentencing Project)”

    With the issue of murder rates, violent crimes are more a case of poverty than it is of any other societal factor:

    “Violent crime rates have more to do with poverty levels in a neighborhood than with the race of local residents, new research has found.

    A study of Columbus neighborhoods found that violent crime rates in extremely disadvantaged white neighborhoods were very similar to rates in comparable Black neighborhoods.

    The violent crime rate in highly disadvantaged Black areas was 22 per 1,000 residents, not much different from the 20 per 1,000 rate in similar white communities.”

  3. The institutional racism is being perpetuated by the Democratic Party.

  4. JP Hochbaum, racism, slavery, the KKK-all are creations of the Democratic Party. Don’t you read actual history?

  5. Jp Hochbaum, how is what I claim a red herring? Don’t you read history?

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