Institutional racism is defined as “systemic White domination of people of color, embedded and operating in corporations, universities, legal systems, political bodies, cultural life, and other social collectives”. This institutional racism that is ingrained in our society is also evidenced by a racial wealth gap resulting from slavery and oppression, which places Blacks and Hispanics at an extreme economic disadvantage as compared to Whites. Whites have an average 22 times more wealth than Blacks and 15 times the wealth of Latinos in the United States, people of color are most often concentrated in areas marked by low opportunity, and social disadvantage is passed from generation to generation. Learning about institutional racism and becoming educated on the historical and current plight of minorities in the justice system highlights the validity of racial concerns, and can inspire compassion for their circumstances.
All races experience forms of discrimination in America, but nothing can compare to the suffering of African, Latino, and Native Americans. No person can begin to understand the experience of another, and this basic fact is what causes the struggles of racial minorities to remain invisible and unimportant to certain groups. Racism is constantly changing, and ignoring its presence and influence in today’s society simply because slavery and Jim Crow laws were abolished and equal opportunity is preached is ignorant to the historical and current persecution of minorities. Those who have never experienced being targeted by law enforcement, discriminated against in employment, or racially profiled, cannot begin to adequately sympathize with the struggles of those who have. Many minorities experience the effects of institutional racism on a daily basis where they reside, work, and go to school. It is hard to ignore the adversity faced by minorities in America, and unreasonable to expect just fifty years of civil rights advancement to erase the effects of extreme racial oppression that has stained two-thirds of our country’s history. Our country is in desperate need of racial transformers who focus on changing the true problems at the core of America’s racism – our justice system, schools, communities, politics, and many other institutions that perpetuate the oppression of minorities. It is time for America to recognize its detrimental shortcomings in providing equal opportunity for all citizens, and begin to repair the relationships and opportunity structures that surround minorities in their daily lives.