Institutional racism (also known as institutionalized or systematic racism) is a form of racism in social and political institutions. Institutional racism is also racism by individuals or informal social groups, governed by behavioral norms that support prejudice thinking.
The enactment of Jim Crow laws created a system that prevented blacks from equal status to their white counterparts. The laws enforced segregation from 1877 until 1954. In 1954, the Supreme Court case ruled segregation in public schools unconstitutional; the ruling then started to apply to other public facilities. However, even with the end of these laws, blacks continue deal with the plague of institutional racism.
In a study on children who are enrolled in school from grades K-12, it was found that black children are three times more likely to be suspended than white children. Black students make up almost 40 percent of all school expulsions, and more than two thirds of students referred to police from schools are either black or Hispanic, according to the Department of Education.
According to the APA, African American children are also 18 times more likely to be sentenced as adults than white children, and make up nearly 60 percent of children in prisons.
Systematic racism is prevalent in our judicial system as well. Racial bias is extremely common in the jury selection. Qualified black jurors are illegally turned away as much as 80 percent of the time in the jury selection process. Black people are also more likely to stay in prison longer than white people, up to 20 percent longer than white people serving time for essentially similar crimes. African Americans receive much harsher sentences. In fact, people of color are 38% more likely to be sentenced to death than white people for the same crimes.
In the workplace, black college graduates are twice as likely to struggle to find employment than white graduates. The jobless rate for blacks has been double that of whites for decades. A study even found that people with “black-sounding names” had to send out 50 percent more job applications than people with “white-sounding names” just to get a call back.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 2015 all races saw an increase in income but the inequality gap between earnings by race increased as well. Black men make 31% less than their white counterparts, while black women make 19% less. One of the major reasons for this gap is the lower graduation rates in the black community. Blacks graduate from high school and college at a significantly lower rate than whites. This may be due to the fact that schools in urban areas with high populations of blacks have less resources, programs, and faculty. Starting from Elementary School, blacks are at a disadvantage compared to their white peers. At the college level the disadvantages worsen. Black college students take on more loans than white students, this may be due to the fact that African American families earn less than other races so they have less money to pay for college. So, blacks are not only facing disadvantages in the working world but there are factors that can make them fall far behind before they even enter it.
Not only are blacks discriminated against institutionally, they are discriminated socially as well. This summer the release of Pokemon Go started a short-lived craze that had thousands of people walking around their neighborhoods searching for Pokemon at Pokestops, or battling others in gyms. While some areas were experiencing more traffic because of the game, others were unaffected because there were no Pokestops at all. On Twitter, minorities users consistently shared the same story: their areas had little to no Pokestops. After noticing this trend across many cities around the country, Eric Fisher decided to look into where Pokestops are placed. He found that areas with larger populations of blacks have fewer stops. When Niantic, the creator of the game, was asked why the distribution of Pokestops is so uneven, their answer was that the locations were crowd sourced so this was not done intentionally. This means they were put in areas with the most smart phones and children.
Institutional racism alters the lives of black Americans drastically, yet some don’t even realize it. Institutional racism exists in nearly every corner of American society – we may not like it, but pretending that it doesn’t exist isn’t right, either. Today we are still affected with the results from a social caste system that was sustained by – slavery and racial segregation. Although the laws that enforced this caste system are no longer in place, its basic structure still stands to this day.