5 Realities About Racism That Black People Need to Know

Racism is Alive and Well

Many Black people feel that admitting or accepting the prevalence of racism is a cop-out or a poor excuse for why many of us remain at the bottom rungs of society. However, the stats don’t lie. Blacks still face enormous economic, health and educational disparities in addition to the educational war against Black children and the criminal justice war against the whole Black community, particularly Black men. Here are just a few examples that clearly show just how pervasive racism is in the United States:

  1. African-Americans make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, but they own just 3 percent of the assets.
  2. Black households earn about 59 percent of what white households earn, a small increase from 55 percent in 1967.
  3. The Black unemployment rate also has consistently been about double that of whites since the 1950s.
  4. Forty percent of children expelled from U.S. schools each year are Black.
  5. Seventy percent of children arrested or referred to law enforcement are Black or Latino.
  6. African-Americans comprise 14 percent of regular drug users but are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses.
  7. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three Black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
  8. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system, Black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes.
  9. The infant mortality rate for Blacks is more than twice that for whites, regardless of the mother’s socioeconomic status.
Statistics from Pewsocialtrends.org and the Center for American Progress

Racism is a Global System of White Supremacy

“If you do not understand White Supremacy (Racism) — what it is, and how it works — everything else that you understand will only confuse you.” – acclaimed author Neely Fuller Jr.

It is widely believed that racism is an American thing or that white supremacy is an ideology of hatred promoted by marginal extremist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan or the Aryan Nations. These misconceptions distort the reality of structural inequalities that ensure the continued supremacy of whites over non-whites in all facets of human life.

Civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois identified the system of white supremacy as a global phenomenon, affecting the social conditions across the world by means of colonialism. The British alone have invaded 90 percent of the world, according to a 2012 study.

Oppression of dark-skinned people by lighter-skinned people can be witnessed in places around the world, even where whites are a very small minority or virtually non-existent, such as in India and other places all over Asia.

It’s All About Power and Control of Resources

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” — abolitionist Fredrick Douglass

Conflict theory posits that in any society where social conflict between any two groups occurs, there exists a continual power struggle between these groups as they pursue their own interests. Each group will seek control and use of resources to gain advantage in the pursuit of their goals. Therefore, those who lack control over resources will be taken advantage of.

If this is applied to the conflict observed between whites and non-whites in modern-day societies, it appears that whites are more culturally aware of this concept than Blacks are.

This is evident in a 2013 study out of Tufts University titled Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing. The study finds that even with possession of power, whites in the U.S. feel racism negatively affects them more than it does Blacks. In other words, as Blacks gain more access to opportunities, whites feel threatened.

As a group, we will never overcome racism as long as we ignore the pursuit of power and control of resources.

Personal Success or Individual Experience Does Not Negate the Existence of Racism

While there is a stark disagreement over the rate of decline, both white and Black people agree that racism against African-Americans has steadily decreased over time. According to the Tufts study, Caucasians surveyed believe that the discrimination faced by their African-American neighbors has decreased much more rapidly than the African-American respondents.

This disparity likely arises from the fact that people often use interpersonal relationships between individuals of different races or the social, political or economic success of certain individuals of color to measure racial progress and declare the end of racism.

However, while the white power structure has generally become more open to better social interactions with Black people, it has been extremely reluctant to let go of the power and control that comes with white supremacy, as indicated by the numerous economic, labor, health and criminal justice statistics.

Institutionalized racism – the more powerful, more dangerous, but less overt form of discrimination – has always been the primary force behind the racism seen in government, corporations and universities.

Even if Race is Not Biological, The Socio-Political Experience is Real

Today’s calls for a colorblind and post-racial society are amplified by research that has shown that there is no such thing as race on the genetic level.

Although race may not be able to be defined biologically, the impact of race socially is still real.

As demands are being made for policymakers, educators and those in the medical-industrial complex to rid themselves of the misconception of race as a genetic population, people are still suffering because of what they look like.