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Racism vs. Systemic Racism

By Srabon Nath

There are two main types of racism and while both are unacceptable, they have different consequences on the directed group of people.

Plain racism is racism that is done by individuals. Racist individuals will direct their ideals and actions upon a select group of people and this can cause this group of people to feel inferior. Racism can range from a few individuals with abnormal racist ideas to a whole society having a collective racist opinion. However, as long as racism is limited to just the assumptions and opinions of people, it is still considered just racism.

Systemic racism is racism that is rooted deep in the very legislation of a society. This means that a society can be governed in a way that the group of people facing racism is not allowed to legally have rights. This also means that in a society with systemic racism, the laws are written in a way that prohibits a group to move forward in society socially, economically, or academically. Systemic racism might be discrete as well. It doesn’t have to be clearly written out in laws. Racism can corrupt institutions that, in an unspoken manner, carry out the racist ideals of society.

There are many examples of both racism and systemic racism. An example of racism would be a child of a certain race being made fun of by their peers. The racism here only exists because of the racist ideals of the peers. On the other hand, examples of systemic racism would be segregation of different races, Jim Crow laws, and taxes directed toward certain races of people. Most of these examples of systemic racism, though, are not really present now as outright racist legislation cannot be easily passed. However, that doesn’t mean systemic racism doesn’t happen. It still discretely plagues society. For example, people of certain races not receiving a job because of their race, an outrageous amount of people from a certain race being jailed, and certain races receiving unfair judgments in a court show how systemic racism can still be present without it being directly stated anywhere.

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