Systemic racism occurs when racially unequal opportunities and outcomes are embedded or inherent in the functioning of a society`s structures. Simply put, systemic racism refers to the processes and outcomes of racial inequality and inequality in opportunities and treatment in life. Systemic racism permeates (a) institutional structures (practices, politics, climate), (b) social structures (state/federal programs, laws, culture), (c) individual mental structures (e.g., learning, memory, attitudes, beliefs, values), and (d) everyday patterns of interaction (norms, scripts, habits). Systemic racism not only operates on many levels, but it can occur with or without hostility or intent to harm, and with or without awareness of its existence. Its power derives from its integration into a unified system of racial differentiation and discrimination that creates, governs and decides opportunities and outcomes across generations. Racism represents the prejudices of the powerful (Jones, 1971), since the prejudices of the powerless have little consequence (Fiske, 1993). Footnote 1 To explain systemic racism, let`s start with the historical origins of race in the United States, that is, the social, political, and economic mechanisms that have sustained it over time. The breed is etched in U.S. history, dating back to colonial times (Higginbotham, 1998; Jones, 1972, 1997) and continued until the beginning of independence, when slavery was quietly enshrined in the nation`s constitution (Waldstreicher, 2009). Although on the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution ended slavery and granted former slaves due process, equal protection, and the right to vote, efforts to combat systemic racism in the United States stalled when Reconstruction collapsed in the disputed elections of 1876, triggering the withdrawal of federal troops from the South (Foner, 1990).
Of course, you may think that you are not personally behaving this way, and you are not allowed to do so. But research has shown that stereotypes are often used out of our consciousness, making it very difficult for us to correct them. Even if we think we are completely fair, we can still use our stereotypes to tolerate discrimination (Chen & Bargh, 1999). And when we are distracted or pressed for time, these tendencies become even stronger (Stangor & Duan, 1991). Many California employers know the three-headed monster of medical leave problems: family leave (state and state), disability leave and accommodation, and workers` compensation leave. California`s wage and hour laws have become their own three-headed monster when it comes to paying employees who are paid in part by certain types of incentive compensation systems (most commonly commissions and piecework). One problem is that social categorization distorts our perception to such an extent that we tend to exaggerate differences between people from different social groups, while perceiving members of groups (and especially external groups) as more similar to each other than they actually are. This overgeneralization makes it more likely that we look at and treat all members of a group equally. Tajfel and Wilkes (1963) conducted a simple experiment that provided a picture of the possible outcomes of categorization. As you can see in Figure 11.5, “Perceptual emphasis,” the experiment involved research participants evaluating the length of six lines. In one of the experimental conditions, participants simply saw six lines, while in the other condition, the lines were systematically divided into two groups – one with the three shorter lines and one with the three longer lines.
The natural cognitive process by which we classify individuals into social groups. As the number of black migrants continued to rise despite these efforts, white urban dwellers demanded that politicians act to “do something” about the perceived “black invasion.” Small-town officials responded by enacting “sunset laws” requiring all blacks to leave the city at sunset (Loewen, 2018). In major cities, legislators passed municipal ordinances that limited black residents to a specific group of already disadvantaged neighborhoods and excluded them from all others. These regulations were the functional equivalent of South Africa`s Group Areas Act, which established the country`s apartheid system in 1948. These ordinances were widely copied and quickly spread from city to city when the Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 1917 (Massey & Denton, 1993). However, the Sundown laws were never challenged in court and remained in effect until the civil rights era. One of the long-standing conundrums in the field of academic achievement is why black students in the United States perform lower on standardized tests, receive lower grades, and are less likely to stay in school than white students, even taking into account other factors such as family income. parental education and other relevant variables. Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson (1995) tested the hypothesis that these differences could be due to the activation of negative stereotypes. Since black students are aware of the (inaccurate) stereotype that “blacks are intellectually inferior to whites,” this stereotype could create a negative expectation that could affect their performance on intellectual tests for fear of confirming this stereotype. We started with institutions and society.