Systemic Racism: Is That Really a Thing?

Racial justice group Race Forward has a new series of short videos about a big topic: systemic racism. 

As Race Forward Publisher Rinku Sen explains in an intro video, it’s important for people to understand what “systemic racism” actually means. “We explicitly focus on systemic racism in order to move the country’s conversation on race forward,” says Sen. The videos focus on eight different topics, including housing discrimination, government surveillance, and immigration policy. Here's one on incarceration: 

Each of the videos starts with catchy, upbeat music, like the intro to a wacky sitcom. Then Jay Smooth appears onscreen, apparently interrupted during his normal daily activities of eating hotdogs or sitting on steps outside a grandoise building. “Oh hey! I didn’t see you there,” he says. “If you’re like most Americans, you probably say to yourself all the time, ‘Systemic racism. Is that really a thing?’” 

Over the next minute, Jay lists off alarming statistics about race in America: Black Americans are 13 percent of population, but only have 2.7 percent of the country’s wealth. Job applicants with white-sounding names are 50 percent more likely to get a callback than applicants with Black-sounding names. In 2011, the NYPD did targeted surveillance of people with “ancestries of interest.” Then, in each video, he wraps up, “Do you know what that’s called? That’s called systemic racism. And yes, it’s really a thing.” And there’s this screen: 

systemic racism

So good. 

I can definitely see sending these videos to people who need an intro course on systemic racism—people who don’t see the links between race and issues like wealth inequality. 

Related Reading: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes Shakespeare to Explain Racism to the Supreme Court.


by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media's online editor. She's interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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