This is how systemic racism works.
When your company has hardly any non-white employees and announces that you “promote from within” and “reward loyalty and seniority,” you are part of a system that keeps white people in the majority, in leadership and in power. The only way a company will become more diverse is if it recruits people of color and intentionally and quickly moves them into positions of authority, bypassing white people who have been there longer.
When your organization does not obscure the names of applicants for jobs, you are actively participating in a process which eliminates people of color from consideration. Study after study has shown that when white interviewers are shown identical resumes – one with a white name and one with a non-white name –those with non-white names are 25%-50% less likely to receive an interview. The only way your organization will interview more people of color is if you remove names when vetting resumes.
When your business has hardly any non-white employees and interviews a person of color, suggestions that the person of color “is not a good fit” is simply code for they are not white. Any company serious about diversifying their workforce must decide to intentionally hire more people of color. Being a person of color has to be valued. “Hiring the best person for the job” when everyone in your business is white suggests “white” is the chief qualification for being the best.
When your university, which has a long history of mostly white graduates, gives special consideration and scholarships to the children of alumni, you have designed a system to keep your university predominately white. This is white affirmative action. The only way a university will become more diverse is if that university intentionally diversifies its student body by recruiting students of color. You cannot pretend to judge applicants by merit if their parentage is a consideration.
When your company says it is difficult to find qualified candidates of color for job openings, this is a lie. There are more qualified people of color in our workforce today than any time in US history. However, recruiting qualified candidates of color requires paying them more than a white candidate in that same position. If this seems unfair to you, remember that study after study finds black employees working the same jobs presently make about 13% less. If your company considers diversity valuable then that value should be represented in the compensation being offered to people of color.
When your hospital says it cannot find black physicians and surgeons to hire, this is statistically correct. Black physicians and surgeons are underrepresented in the US workforce. However, when your hospital system has complained about this shortage for 40 years, this is an excuse rather than a complaint. Your hospital has no real interest in breaking up one of the whitest clubs in American – physicians. Forty years is plenty of time for any hospital to go to local high schools and support talented students of color with scholarships, mentoring and promises of future employment.
When your political party has trouble finding people of color as “good” candidates for public office, you aren’t trying very hard. Many people of color – as victims of oppression – become activists. They organize, advocate, recruit and protest. They connect to people and speak with passion. That you do not consider these people “good” candidates suggests your party is only interested in sustaining white supremacy and electing people of color – should you find them – who will not challenge the status quo.
When your club or organization does not include many people of color, it is probably a club or organization designed to sustain white supremacy. Regardless of its stated mission, it was originally organized to give white people (usually white men) advantage and privilege. Most of today’s most respected clubs and organizations once had rules banning people of color from membership. Such clubs and organizations should not be respected. They should be disbanded. If their stated mission has merit, they should be reorganized by a group with equal representation of white and non-white leaders.
If your church is predominately white, you should leave it. Like the clubs and organizations mentioned above, it probably once banned people of color from attendance. American Christianity was one of the primary supporters of slavery, white supremacy and racism in the United States. Sunday is still the most segregated hour in America. Those serious about loving their neighbor should seek out neighbors of color and build relationships with them. Giving your time and money to the most segregated institution in America is poor stewardship.
If your neighborhood or subdivision originally had a covenant banning the selling of homes to people of color, you need to move. You live in a neighborhood intentionally created to exclude diversity and protect white supremacy. The white families in this neighborhood were given governmental subsidies to help them acquire generational wealth denied to families of color. That your neighborhood no longer legally enforces this covenant is irrelevant. Continuing to live in that house, even if you put a “Black Lives Matter” sign in the yard, is to benefit from the injustices of the past.
Unless you live in a rural setting, your children should not be attending a predominately white school. Schools socialize children for a specific culture and worldview. Schools without diversity are designed to promote a homogeneous view of the world. White schools enculturate whiteness. When these schools are given far more resource than diverse schools, this is an intentional decision to sustain white supremacy and inequity. Sending your children to an all-white school because it is a “good” school means you equate white and good. Parents who send their children to such schools when there are more diverse options, regardless of their stated views on racism, are actively perpetuating white supremacy.
This is how systemic racism works.
White people design, sustain, promote and defend systems that were created to exclude people of color, thereby giving white people advantages. Most of these systems have bestowed these benefits for generations. Most of these systems still control much of our society. Most are still predominately white and controlled by white people.
Systemic racism is still the bedrock of our nation.
3 thoughts on “How Systemic Racism Works”
Amen, and amen.