Katie Pavlich, a conservative blogger and editor at townhall.com , had a column posted on The Hill yesterday, and it was all about how America is no longer a racist country. While Katie, like most conservatives, concedes that racists still do exist in America, the country does not apply institutional racism any longer. In response to the shooting in Charleston, SC, we have seen various Republicans and conservative pundits deny that racism was a factor in the shootings at all. We have seen the motive of Roof associated with a lack of “understanding where salvation comes from“, “the left wing” and anti-Christian motives. While these assertions were widely mocked in the media, it is important to instruct people like Pavlich to understand where racism in America today exists. Because the truth is racism is still very pervasive in America today, and it is surely institutionalized in our great nation.
To be sure, I agree with Pavlich when she says that Roof’s “feelings about race are the exception, not the rule, in this country.” And yes, slavery was practiced by many countries (and still is to this day).However, racism no longer takes the form of calling someone the n-word and practicing Jim Crow laws. Racism can be found in the following sectors of everyday life:
–Vox today refers us to a recent study from the Harvard Business Review that goes into great detail about discrimination against women in the fields of Science, Technology, Education and Math (aka STEM). The study showed that forty-eight percent of black women and 47 percent of Latina women responded that they had been mistaken for administrative or custodial staff while on the job. Now, is mistaking a Black biology teacher for a janitor the equivalent of calling someone a racial epithet? No. However, it does demonstrate people’s perceptions of others because of the color of their skin. Furthermore, the notion that people would be skeptical of a Black or Latino woman would be employed in a STEM career is a product of institutional racism. Many of us in the White community are too accustomed to the idea that STEM careers are a club exclusively for White people. We need to realize that Black and Latino Americans can (and do) hold high positions in competitive career fields.
–Jeff Nesbit over at US News recently published an impressive column about residential segregation, and how it exists even for Black families who have managed to elevate their socio-economic status. Nesbit states that “…having more money doesn’t necessarily help black families move up the socio-economic ladder. When white and black families have the same income, the white family is likely to be in the more affluent neighborhood…” However, the most troubling results from the article, as Nesbit argues, are “what’s occurring among the poorest families. The disparities are even more pronounced here, creating disadvantages for children trying to cope with fewer social supports, weaker school systems and more institutional obstacles.” So not only are Black and Latino families having difficulty moving into neighborhoods that are not ensconced in poverty, they are still forced to deal with the inadequate services of those neighborhoods, even if they have a higher income. It is a result of institutional racism that people widely believe that black families are inherently poor and thus have societal restrictions on where they can live in many American neighborhoods. Residential segregation continues to be one of the most subversive forms of racism that exists today.
So the point is, while it’s true that we have a Black president and several members of society who hold prominent positions that are Black, that does not make up for America’s role in disenfranchising Black and Latino families. In fact, despite her wealth and worldwide fame, Oprah still faced discrimination in Switzerland. So no, Katie, America is not absolved of its racist past, as it continues to haunt many innocent minorities to this day.