Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Causes > Social Justice > Institutionalized racism exists — it’s time to deal with it

Institutionalized racism exists — it’s time to deal with it

LatinaLista — Yesterday, Latina Lista reported on how the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Washington state’s justice system was found to be racially infected against Blacks and Latinos in how they were treated during the judicial process. As a result, the justices, in a controversial move, restored black and Latino inmates their voting privileges.


An isolated case of where blacks and Latinos are being targeted? Hardly.

Today, the Denver Post reports on an analysis of state school disciplinary records that shows, again, Blacks and Latinos singled out disproportionately.

The paper found that black students made up just 5.9 percent of all pupils, but 12.7 percent of the cases of suspension, expulsion or discipline for being disruptive.

Latino students were 28.4 percent of the students but 37 percent of the discipline cases.

Isolated? Nope!

The New York Times reported last month that skin color determines whether a person goes to jail for marijuana possession.

Hint: It’s not another isolated incident.

According to the New York Times article:

Even though surveys show they (whites) are part of the demographic group that makes the heaviest use of pot, white people in New York are the least likely to be arrested for it.

Last year, black New Yorkers were seven times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession and no more serious crime. Latinos were four times more likely.

And in a really bizarre twist, it was found that an Oregon program specifically designed to hire more minorities and women for public construction projects, well, guess who got the bulk of the money:

…businesses owned by white men snagged 51 percent of the money.

Of the $13.7 million allocated since 1997 through the Sheltered Market Program, companies owned by white women received 25 percent. African-Americans got 11 percent, Latinos 9 percent, Native Americans 3 percent and Asian Americans 1 percent.

All of these cases and the hundreds more that are revealed with a simple GOOGLE search underscore the fact that institutionalized racism exists. To ferret them out, the cases must be dissected and held under the public spotlight.

Too many people think racism has disappeared simply because blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and whites live in closer proximity to one another but racism exists.

For African-American, Latino and other communities-of-color to advance into the 21st Century, there must be an acknowledgement that institutionalized racism exists, has existed and is to blame for the negative outcomes that we see plaguing certain communities.

Because of institutionalized racism, our educational system has historically done more to hold children of color back than promote them. If it weren’t for that one teacher or principal or parent or, yes, even student who fought for equal access to classes and higher faculty expectations, there would be less students of color going on to college.

Because of institutionalized racism that started in the nation’s schools, children of color were seen as not being able to learn to read. So, at a time during their early school years when they should have been excited to learn how to read, the opposite occurred. In turn, the children with poor reading skills grew up to be high schoolers with poor reading skills who turned to crime because an education wasn’t going to get them anywhere and eventually they ended up as adults with low levels of literacy depending on lives of crime to support themselves.

Because of institutionalized racism, the court system didn’t see defendants-of-color as “innocent before proven guilty” but rather, “guilty before proven innocent.”

Because of institutionalized racism can a program designed to give money to help jumpstart entrepreneurs-of-color in the construction business award that same money to white men — and no one ever thought twice about it.

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  • karen
    January 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    I agree that institutional racism still exists. In Southern CA, on the local LA news, you will see stories of white people who run over people in their cars, and if the victim is Latino the white person will not be charged. If it happens in reverse, the Latino is always charged.
    The actress Rebecca Gayhart ran over a Latino boy when she was driving on the wrong side of the street. The boy died and she got off with a fine.

  • cookie
    January 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I think if one delves into the entire story of these cases that they will find taking them at face value based on white vs minority doesn’t hold water most of the time and the real truth will surface.
    What about Affirmative Action? Does it no longer exist? Will the whining and racism towards whites by some minorities ever stop?

  • El Guapo
    January 8, 2010 at 4:30 am

    I’m torn.
    On one hand I’m encouraged that a court is taking action with respect to this. I’m encouraged that objective studies are being undertaken to examine institutional racism in 21st century America.
    On the other hand this just gives move fuel to the whiners who will cry “Racism” even when it’s not a factor. The accusation of racism seems to be one of the more common impediments to a rational discussion of an issue.

  • Marisa Treviño
    January 8, 2010 at 6:32 am

    Guapo, I certainly understand what you’re saying but on the other hand I can’t help but feel that we have been “conditioned” to view accusations of racism as just “whining.” Sure, there are people who abuse the term but that’s true of other situations as well where people cry of being victimized when they weren’t. Yet, why should that take away from these situations that are bona fide examples of institutionalized racism? Do we discount the cries of rape from all women just because a few have used it to falsely accuse others? No and I think we have to get out of this mindset that accusations of racism are just examples of whining. The fact is this type of racism, because it’s so institutionalized, does real harm financially and emotionally to the person being victimized and no one should ever have to apologize for exposing it.

  • El Guapo
    January 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Oh, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to communicate that I thought that all accusations of racism were just whining. I often suspect racism. Every time I see a minority get treated differently I wonder if it’s because of race. Every time. And I know that racism for sure is still more prevalent than any study shows.
    For example, every Jan 1 I make a prediction on what will be one of the top news stories in the coming year. Every year I predict that a missing pretty white girl will be one of the top national news stories. Every year I’m right. My predictions are 100% accurate. I’ve never been wrong.
    What will NOT be a top national news story is a missing pretty black girl. Lexie Glover (Google it) was a precious angel.
    I know racism exists. But too many times people inject into an argument. “Your [sic] a racist,” they write. Even if their debate opponent IS a racist, the accusation usually doesn’t have anything to do with the discussion.

  • Alonzo
    January 17, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    El Guapo said: “For example, every Jan 1 I make a prediction on what will be one of the top news stories in the coming year. Every year I predict that a missing pretty white girl will be one of the top national news stories. Every year I’m right. My predictions are 100% accurate. I’ve never been wrong.”
    Given that all women have an equal chance of being raped, and the population is more than 50% white and 50% other (not all black), wouldn’t it stand to reason that statistically, such stories would tend to be about white women? Your expectations are apparently being fulfilled by natural mathematical probability. Don’t expect that to change unless the demographics of this country do, so keep wishing.

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