Institutional Racism – Refutation

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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. https://youtu.be/RdDJ1inoXecTomi Lahren Speaks On Jesse Williams’ BET Awards Speech! “Sounds Like You Prefer Special Treatment”
  2. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/public-school-funding-and-the-role-of-race/408085/ – Racism in school funding Mosenkis
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/21/schools-discrimination_n_5002954.html – Education racism White
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Police Brutality – Affirmation

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Over the last few years, turmoil was erupted in the United States over the deaths of various unarmed African Americans who died at the hands of police. Ferguson, Tulsa, Baltimore and multiple other cities across the country has sparked a national debate over how much racial bias skews law enforcement behavior, even subconsciously. Although not all police encounters turn violent, it is sure to say that race has increasingly become a deciding factor in how officers will treat members of the community.

Routine traffic stops more frequently led to searches, arrests and the opening of a trapdoor into the criminal justice system that can have a lifelong impact, especially for those who lack economic or social resources in order to protect or defend themselves from racial discrimination and prejudice.

Empirical evidence confirms the existence of racial profiling on America’s roadways. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that for the year 2005, the most recent data available, “police actions taken during a traffic stop were not uniform across racial and ethnic categories.” “Black drivers (4.5%) were twice as likely as White drivers (2.1%) to be arrested during a traffic stop. By analyzing data from 4.5 million traffic stops in 100 North Carolina cities, Stanford researchers have found that police in that state are more likely to search black and Hispanic motorists, using a lower threshold of suspicion, than when they stop white or Asian drivers.

According to findings by a Guardian study that recorded a final tally of 1,134 deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers this year, young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015.

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Police brutality against blacks started being in the media more following the shooting of Michael Brown, by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9, 2014. This resulted in nationwide protests against the tendency of law enforcement to be overly aggressive when dealing with black men. This is how the Black Lives Matter movement gained traction. Through this movement, it has been shown that police are arresting and killing black men at a much higher rate than any other racial groups.

Overall in 2015, black people were killed at twice the rate of white, Hispanic and native Americans. About 25% of the African Americans killed were unarmed, compared with 17% of white people. This disparity has narrowed since the database was first published on 1 June, at which point black people killed were found to be twice as likely to not have a weapon.

Law enforcement was only charged with 18 crimes of 2015’s deadly incidents – 10 shootings, four deadly vehicle crashes and four deaths in custody.

Minority groups are much more likely to be arrested, shot and killed by police than other racial groups. Racial profiling is a large problem in law enforcement because there are biases and stereotypes towards black males. Police officers are often quicker to shoot an unarmed black man than an unarmed white man due to embedded cultural stereotypes. It is clear that African Americans are victimized by police in the United States more than any other ethnic group of citizens.

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