Facts About Racism and How Systemic It Is

Between 1934 and 1962, the Federal Housing Authority underwrote $120 billion dollars of home mortgages. 98% of them went to white people. (The federal government established a policy that any neighborhood with people of color in it was a bad risk and therefore not eligible for loans.) Over the following decades, the value of those houses rose dramatically, and those white homeowners experienced a huge increase in wealth, from which black and brown people were excluded. This was an immense affirmative action program for white people — a government sponsored transfer to wealth to white people that created the white middle class in this country.

Average white family wealth is roughly 20 times average black and brown family wealth according to the Pew Research Center.

Studies show that black men and white men use illegal drugs in equal percentages, but black men are incarcerated for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of white men. The statistics are similar for Latino men and for black and Latino women.

Carefully controlled recent studies show that when white men and black men with equal resumes apply for jobs, white men with criminal records get more callbacks than black men without criminal records.

Research into “implicit bias” has shown that a very large majority of white people in the United States have unconscious positive bias toward white people and negative bias toward black people. Most people are unaware that they have these are biases; they may consciously disagree with them, yet these biases still negatively influence their behavior . Millions of people have taken the Implicit Association Test (IAT) that reveals bias. If you are interested in examining your own unconscious attitudes by taking the test online, visit www.implicit.harvard.edu or www.tolerance.org/hidden_bias.

Since 2010, 22 states have passed laws imposing new restrictions on voting, making it more difficult for people of color, young voters, and the elderly to vote. Some claim this is to prevent voter fraud, yet there is no evidence that voter fraud is actually an issue. Most of these are states where African American voter turnout increased in 2008 or where the Hispanic population has shown the greatest growth. The current assault on voting is highly unusual. Election rules have long been prone to politicization, but the last large-scale push to curb voting access was more than a century ago, after Reconstruction.

Toxic waste dumps and air polluting coal plants are disproportionally located near where black and brown people live and adversely affect their health in ways that are well documented. Catastrophic weather events of the type that are increasing dramatically as a result of climate change disproportionally wreak havoc on the lives and livelihoods of people of color. Neighborhoods of color recover more slowly from storms such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

Police violence toward black and brown men and boys, racial profiling, and an ongoing pattern of racial injustice by police departments in numerous cities, in both the North and the South, have recently made the news and been documented by the federal Department of Justice. This is systemic and widespread — Cleveland, Ohio as well as Ferguson, Missouri; Staten Island, New York, as well Baltimore, Maryland; Oakland, California as well as North Charleston, South Carolina.