Institutional Racism – Refutation


On June 28, 2016, Tomi Lahren, host of the conservative television show TheBlaze critiqued the notion of institutional racism and prejudice in America. She referred specifically to actor Jesse Williams’ speech at the at the 2016 Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards, where he received a Humanitarian award for his work in under-served communities of color and fight against institutional racism. Lahren insisted that the issues Jesse Williams brought up had no merit, because it was made to a room of wealthy Black Americans. Her claim was that if the institution was racist, those individuals would not be in the positions they are in. In reality, the speech was that of empowerment and driven by a need to couple information with the desire for change. His speech catalyzed the audience, and made them reflect on their own privileges, in order to further the fight towards justice and freedom.

Lahren also made statements that these individuals are not experiencing institutionalized racism, but it is white people fighting for their rights. Lahren used the Civil War as proof that whiteness fought against racism and slavery. This statement disregarded the known facts that while white people fought on the side of the North, there were many people who financially benefited from the mistreatment of Black Americans. From the days of slavery to present-day American, Black people have had a recorded history of being mistreated on an institutional level. From the War on Drugs, the lack of funding for schools in predominately Black neighborhoods , to the use of criminal justice policies like stop and frisk, American institutions have continuously worked against the benefit of Black Americans.

One of the most overlooked instances of modern institutional racism aforementioned is the lack of funding for schools in Black neighborhoods. The evidence on racism in the education system is clear. Data scientist David Mosenkis studied 500 different school districts in Pennsylvania and found conclusive data that supports this theory. In an article in The Atlantic, author Gillian B White explains these findings; “If you color code the districts based on their racial composition you see this very stark breakdown. At any given poverty level, districts that have a higher proportion of white students get substantially higher funding than districts that have more minority students. That means that no matter how rich or poor the district in question, funding gaps existed solely based on the racial composition of the school” (White, 2015).

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Source: The Atlantic

In another piece of evidence confirming the existence of racism among schools, Senior Education Reporter Joy Resmovits exposes the truth in a Huffington Post article. “Seven percent of black students attend schools where as many as 20 percent of teachers fail to meet license and certification requirements. And one in four school districts pay teachers in less-diverse high schools $5,000 more than teachers in schools with higher black student enrollment” (Resmovits, 2014). Besides the education system, there is also much more evidence regarding the abundance of other instances of institutional racism in America; the evidence just provided is only a sliver into the truth of it’s existence. That Lahren could even say that institutional racism has no merit is just plain inaccurate.

Sources Cited:

  1. Lahren Speaks On Jesse Williams’ BET Awards Speech! “Sounds Like You Prefer Special Treatment”
  2. – Racism in school funding Mosenkis
  3. – Education racism White

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