Institutional Racism

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism is defined as any form of prejudice which occurs exclusively within institutional settings like government bodies, private corporations, and public or private universities. It can also be referred to as structural or systemic racism. This form of racism is threefold and includes: institutional, personally-mediated as well as internalized racism. The expression institutional racism was created by one Stokely Carmichael. He was not only a black nationalist, but also a pan-Africanist. Carmichael as a Pan-Africanist did define institutional racism as the joint malfunction of an enterprise or an organization to offer a suitable and expert service to the people due to their culture, skin color and/or ethnic foundation.

Both Kenneth Bancroft Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark are widely known for their intensive and extensive research work in the 1940s using dolls to investigate children's feelings about an individual's race which the society has unfortunately institutionalized. Coincidentally, they were couple and did a joint study on the same. The Clarks did testify as specialists observers in Briggs v. Elliott, one of the cases which were duly rolled into Brown v. Board of Education. Their joint effort indeed contributed greatly to the ruling made by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the judgment, the judge did indicate that the de jure racial separation in civic education was unlawful. In fact, the Supreme Court's Chief Justice, then Earl Warren did write that the segregation of blacks from others of both similar qualifications as well as age solitarily due to their race does spawn in them a feeling of inadequacy as to their standing in the society at large and that may affect severely their hearts as well as minds in such a way that could not likely forever be ordinarily undone.

The Clarks' studies did find disparities among children who attend isolated institutions in Washington, DC against those ones in built-in institutions in the state of New York. Jointly, in their studies they duly discovered that the Black child over and over again preferred playing with white dolls rather than the black doll. When further they were asked to fill up in a human shape with the shade of their skin, they recurrently chose a lighter color than actually was precise. Furthermore, most children granted the color "white" qualities such as pretty and nice, but the shade "black" was given attributes such as ugly and irritating by the children. The Clarks viewed the domino effect as confirmation that the children actually had internalized racism which is caused by being isolated as well as stigmatized by segregation. According to Brown (2001: 33) in his book, The interracial experience: growing up Black/white racially mixed in the United States does state that the black children did not like black dolls. That black color was quite undesirable to them and not that they misidentified themselves. It was just an expression of genuine feelings towards the black color and by extension the African- American.

Institutional racism is differentiated from the ethnic intolerance, by the mere existence of institutionally structured policies, rule and regulations as well as their practices which are skewed and largely meant to place the blacks at a disadvantage with respect to the white members of the very institution. For instance there was a limiting housing pact as well as bank lending policies which were pretty effective and efficient types of institutional racism. Other examples include segregation by security forces, stereotyped racial caricatures which are continually used against the minority blacks to intimidate them. Besides, there was this common under and/or misrepresentation of given cultural groups in the wider mass media, and even parochially and openly practiced race-based obstructions to gainful employment as well as individual or personal professional advancement. Also there was rampant differential access to commodities, services, and other opportunities of the society. All these segregate forms were well defined within the phrase institutional racism. Furthermore, it covered unpaved boulevards and road and rail networks, continuous inherited socio-economic disadvantage et cetera.

Some sociologic surveyors differentiate between structural racism and institutional racism whereby the latter casts its focus on the institutional norms, moral and core values and also their practices, whereas the former places its main focus on the mere interactions among various institutions; interactions that give radicalized upshot against the non-white people. A crucial feature of structural racism indeed is that it cannot be condensed to individual prejudice or to the sole role of an institution. On the same note, it is significant to mark that the moment a structure is emplaced, its cost likely will have effect on the entire population — and not just those racially singled out people. Apparently structural racialism also pays a lot of attention to many of the institutional measures that are often acknowledged as “American exceptionalism” — for instance the non-existence of a labor union or existence of a weak labor union if they do feature, and by extension the uneven and dynamic federal government system. Using the institutional advance for structural racialization reliably suggests an uncontrolled interactions, between the race and the social class, and by extension their impact on institutional design as well as institutional import.

The social structures and institutions were widely used in this regard to propagate segregation of racial nature. Some legislative aspects also entrench this sad situation in the American society. For example, there was no "race" particularly identified for exclusion from the famous Social Security Act. However, the set of laws of the Act in effect permitted capital benefits to accumulate only to the whites and not to Americans of other descent. The American fiscal policies also have been stimulating institutional racism, via its effect to issues like the general American health care and HIV-AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) in particular. The American health intervention measures and services in the non-white minority communities are appalling. In fact, the over-representation of the black minorities in infection categories such as AIDS was in large part directly related to institutional racism. As a result, the federal government national had shown skewed and dismal response to the pandemic of AIDS in minority affected communities. This has been a show of insensitivity of the highest order by the federal government to ethnic diversity in preventive and protective medicine, the public health maintenance, as well as AIDS management services (Hutchinson; 1992).

In the United States of America, standardization of testing materials has also been given due consideration to be institutional racism. This was mainly due to its significant academic assessment biasness against the blacks. It greatly favored the people with a specific socio-cultural background. Indeed it posed supposed result that certain racial minorities tended to make very poor scores. Since it was largely considered a socio-economic form of discrimination - schools were mainly funded with asset taxes mostly of the surrounding areas. An institution in a poor African-American or poor white community cannot enthusiastically and easily buy new textbooks compared to a school in middle- or even that in a high-income community. Consequently, “poor” school districts were literally compelled to use old textbooks which were mainly a discard by other institutions, further maddening the existing socio-economic difference caused by institutional racism. Some social groups did believe that the occurrence of used textbooks apparently in the black schools sustains the argument that standardized texts in their nature were inherently racist. In addition, there was a widely held opinion that black students know obsolete information which is not assessed in standardized examinations. This situation caused a test score bias against the non-white students.

Reference List:

Brown U. M. 2001. The interracial experience: growing up black/white racially mixed in the United States. Westport, CT. Praeger Publishers.

Hutchinson J. Feb. 1992. "AIDS and racism in America", Journal of the National Medical Association. PubMed: 160250

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