Systematic racism

Our country and our world have come a long way in addressing racism throughout our society. I am glad that we have made progress in that area, and I hope we are able to continue to do so. Like many people, I do not like to focus on racism, because doing so can sometimes be detrimental, but it cannot be ignored. Although I found some truth to Kathryn NelsonâÄôs Thursday column âÄúRacism still alive,âÄù I would like to make an important addition. While she pointed out the racism that still exists on the level of individual acts of racism, I would argue that, in addition, there is still an even deeper, often unacknowledged âÄúsystemicâÄù racism. Electing Barack Obama is not enough to address it. To me, racism is defined as any morally troublesome difference in life experience between groups of people, simply based on their race or ethnicity. Racism is not written into the law as it once was, but it still wields power. When there is a difference in the likelihood of a person to graduate from high school or go to college, or in their expected income or career advancement based on racial identity, to me, it is racism. Obviously, no individual or even group of individuals is behind this. Nor is it true that simply being of a certain race inherently determines someoneâÄôs ability or inability to succeed academically or in any other area of life. This is what I mean by âÄúsystemicâÄù racism. It is impossible to blame for this racism. That is why it is distinct from âÄúindividualâÄù racism. Yet this is still racism, and it is just as wrong (if not more so) as individual hate crimes. Simply because I am a European-American, I am less likely than my peers of other races to experience poverty or homelessness, go to prison, experience verbal or physical assault or have my religion demonized by governments as the âÄúgreatest source of evilâÄù in the world. I think anyone would admit that this is unjust âÄî and not because I should be more likely to have those experiences. It is morally wrong that children born today have vastly different (hypothetical) âÄúhands of cardsâÄù dealt to them (on average) simply in correlation to their race. While I am pointing out âÄúsystemicâÄù racism, I do not pretend to have answers for it. I believe it is the greatest challenge of racism today, and, unfortunately, will not be solved until we realize its existence and power. I hope we can face that challenge, and come closer to the ideal of equal opportunity for all. Marco LaNave University student