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A FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING THE CAUSES OF RACIAL INEQUITIES IN 21 ST CENTURY AMERICA Presented by: The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change.

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Presentation on theme: "A FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING THE CAUSES OF RACIAL INEQUITIES IN 21 ST CENTURY AMERICA Presented by: The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change."— Presentation transcript:

1 A FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING THE CAUSES OF RACIAL INEQUITIES IN 21 ST CENTURY AMERICA Presented by: The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change Anne Kubisch, Keith Lawrence, Raymond Codrington October 2, 2012 Detroit, MI

2 OUR AGENDA FOR TODAY: A language to talk about race A framework for understanding how race and ethnicity operate in contemporary America (post-civil rights legislation) New ideas and strategies for promoting racial equity

3 What is race and how do we understand it? “A social construct” No biological or scientific basis behind it Best understood in social and political terms

4 New Language – we need to identify and talk about: The ongoing advantages associated with being "white” – sometimes referred to as a white privilege The ongoing disadvantages associated with being a person of “color”— which we refer to as structural racism

5 Source: Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts.

6 Source: Race Matters for Michigan Children,

7 Common explanations of entrenched racial and/or ethnic disparity: Structural Institutional Individual How is structural racism different?

8 Racism at the individual or inter-group level: Personal prejudice Racial slurs, the n-word Inter-group tensions Solution strategies include: Diversity and multi-culturalism Cultural competence Personal prejudice Racial slurs, the n-word Inter-group tensions Solution strategies include: Diversity and multi-culturalism Cultural competence …these are important, and these personal attitudes and beliefs color decision-making and actions. …these are important, and these personal attitudes and beliefs color decision-making and actions.

9 The bigger problem… Racism at the institutional and structural levels

10 Institutional Racism Educa- tion Employ- ment Housing Environ- ment Criminal Justice Health

11 Examples of Institutional Racism Discriminatory practices, intentional or not Redlining or “steering” Occupational segregation Racial profiling

12 One example: Racial profiling Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Contacts Between Police and the Public: Findings from the 2002 National Survey. April 2005.

13 Institutional Racism: A Systems Perspective Educa- tion Employ- ment Housing Environ- ment Criminal Justice Health

14 Structural Racism History Culture Values Educa- tion Employ- ment Housing Environ- ment Criminal Justice Health

15 What is Structural Racism? It describes the complex ways that history, public policies, institutional practices and cultural representations (e.g., stereotypes, norms) interact to maintain racial hierarchy and inequitable racial group outcomes; thereby allowing privileges associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt.

16 Structural Racism and Racial Inequities Contemporary Culture Historically Accumulated White Privilege National Values Social Processes Maintaining Racial Hierarchies Institutional Racism & Inter-Institutional Interactions Production & Reproduction of Racial Inequities Knowledge or Ideological Context Social Manifestations Institutional Manifestations Education Environment Employment Housing Health Criminal Justice

17 Structural Racism and Racial Inequities Contemporary Culture Historically Accumulated White Privilege National Values Social Processes Maintaining Racial Hierarchies Institutional Racism & Inter-Institutional Interactions Production & Reproduction of Racial Inequities Knowledge or Ideological Context Social Manifestations Institutional Manifestations Education Environment Employment Housing Health Criminal Justice WE ARE HERE

18 Historically Accumulated White Privilege quality education decent jobs livable wages home ownership retirement benefits Whites’ historical and contemporary advantages in access to: … have helped create and sustain advantages in wealth accumulation.

19 Since the “Great Recession,” wealth gap widest in 25 yrs White net worth = 20 X wealth of Blacks; 18 X wealth of Hispanics In 2009, one-quarter of all Black, Hispanic households had ZERO assets. Source: Pew Research Center Pew Social & Demographic Trends Report Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics July 26,2011 Net Worth by Race

20 Parents/Grandparents of WHITE AMERICANS: Parents/Grandparents of BLACK AMERICANS: Had higher incomes/earned salaries Accumulated retirement through union membership, participation in social security, etc. Benefited from home ownership policies and were able to buy property in rising neighborhoods. Had lower incomes because of educational segregation and discrimination in employment. Were denied access to suburban real estate because of exclusionary brokering and community planning Were denied low-interest Federal Housing Authority mortgage loans due to “redlining”

21 Structural Racism and Racial Inequities Contemporary Culture Historically Accumulated White Privilege National Values Social Processes Maintaining Racial Hierarchies Institutional Racism & Inter-Institutional Interactions Production & Reproduction of Racial Inequities Knowledge or Ideological Context Social Manifestations Institutional Manifestations Education Environment Employment Housing Health Criminal Justice WE ARE HERE

22 National Values Such as: Equal opportunity: A “level playing field” Meritocracy: Advancement depends on talent and effort Individualism/ Personal Responsibility: Individual choices and behaviors determine outcomes

23 Often implies inherent laziness and a poor work ethic for many people of color. These views can be held by whites or POC National Values For too many people of color, these national values do not apply: Equal Opportunity Reinforces the myth that individual skills and effort wholly determine outcomes Negates the material and psychological advantages of some groups

24 Structural Racism and Racial Inequities Contemporary Culture Historically Accumulated White Privilege National Values Social Processes Maintaining Racial Hierarchies Institutional Racism & Inter-Institutional Interactions Production & Reproduction of Racial Inequities Knowledge or Ideological Context Social Manifestations Institutional Manifestations Education Environment Employment Housing Health Criminal Justice WE ARE HERE

25 Societal norms, values and practices reinforce racial stereotypes and emphasize “innate” capacities of different groups. The media’s creation and perpetuation of racial stereotypes has been particularly pernicious. For example… Contemporary Culture

26 Perceptions of Young Black Men It becomes common sense to deny public resources, judge them differently People can point to culture as an individual not structural impediment to progress. These stereotypes are often recycled and have appeared in the past. When people are seen as possessing “deficient” or “deviant” cultural practices:

27 Cultural Perceptions: “Everything’s in a Name” Percentage of applicants that received interview requests: Common WHITE names Source: Alan B. Krueger. Economic Scene: sticks and stones can break bones, but the wrong name can make a job hard to find. The New York Times. (December 1, 2002), C2. Ebony Latonya Kenya Latoya Tanisha Lakisha Tamika Keisha Aisha Average6.9% Kristen Carrie Laurie Meredith Sarah Allison Jill Anne Emily Average10.3% Common BLACK names

28 Influence of Cultural Perceptions in determining outcomes in opportunity domains Source: The Civil Rights Project. “Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance and School Discipline.” Harvard University. (2000): P.8.

29 Internalized White Privilege “…an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious….” - Peggy Macintosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”

30 Contents of a Knapsack I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

31 Internalized Oppression by African Americans “Stereotype Threat” African American students perform as well as their white peers on exams when they are told the test is merely an exercise They perform more poorly than their white peers when told that the exam is intended to assess their competence and intelligence Source:

32 Structural Racism and Racial Inequities Contemporary Culture Historically Accumulated White Privilege National Values Social Processes Maintaining Racial Hierarchies Institutional Racism & Inter-Institutional Interactions Production & Reproduction of Racial Inequities Knowledge or Ideological Context Social Manifestations Institutional Manifestations Education Environment Employment Housing Health Criminal Justice WE ARE HERE

33 Structural Racism is reconstructed and preserved through various sorting processes, such as … Marginalization Social Isolation & Exclusion Exploitation Included but relegated Not included Taken advantage of … that often reposition groups of color … rather than eliminate racial hierarchy.

34 Latin Americans – Examples of exclusion, marginalization, exploitation Pressure to deport illegal Mexican workers Southern border fence Periodic “English only” campaigns Community mobilizations against “day laborers.” Occupation segregation, e.g., Mexicans relegated to low- wage jobs in food service industry, agriculture, construction Deportation initiatives Labor exploitation in agriculture (migrant farm workers), manufacturing (the garment industry), and home care (housekeeping, child and elder care).

35 Another social process that maintains racial hierarchies… Another social process that maintains racial hierarchies… Progress and Retrenchment: Progress has been made through major “racial equality” victories Gains on some fronts are often challenged, neutralized or undermined. Significant backlashes develop in key public policy areas. BUT

36 A recent retrenchment example… A 2008 report from United for a Fair Economy estimates that the total loss of wealth for people of color from subprime loans taken out between 2000 and 2008 will be between $164 and $213 Billion. Source: Amaad Rivera et al. Foreclosed: State of the Dream, United for a Fair Economy. January 15, 2008.

37 Structural Racism and Racial Inequities Contemporary Culture Historically Accumulated White Privilege National Values Social Processes Maintaining Racial Hierarchies Institutional Racism & Inter-Institutional Interactions Production & Reproduction of Racial Inequities Knowledge or Ideological Context Social Manifestations Institutional Manifestations Education Environment Employment Housing Health Criminal Justice

38 Video: An Example of Structural Racism? “The Color Line and the Bus Line” ◦ Nightline by Ted Koppel

39 Table Exercise: Break into small groups Identify one racial inequity in Michigan Identify the historical origin Identify a contemporary policy or practice that helps perpetuate it Identity an aspect of contemporary culture that helps perpetuate it

40 In Conclusion…. WHAT CAN BE DONE?

41 Why focus on structural racism? Structural causes of inequalities are difficult to see because:  We are so embedded in them  They are woven into the fabric of our assumptions about how things operate  They are self-perpetuating and don’t require active work to be maintained “Fish don’t notice the water they’re swimming in ”

42 What does the Structural Racism Framework mean for people who want to reduce inequities? What does the Structural Racism Framework mean for people who want to reduce inequities? It means four types of changes in the way we work: Internal change Policy change Practice change Cultural/representational change

43 “Internal” Change Accepting and establishing racial equity as a central tenet and operating principle in our work to improve outcomes in our internal work environment. For example: Focus not just on improving outcomes for all but also on reducing racial gaps Focus not just on diversity in the workplace, but also on racial equity in opportunities for advancement and leadership

44 “Policy” change: Working on the fundamental rules of the game within your organization and your field, and not shrinking from challenging traditional power bases and networks. For example: Focus on the fundamental distribution of resources in terms of money, infrastructure, and opportunities within your organization and outside your organization

45 “Practice” Change: Focusing carefully on all of the ways in which standard practices reproduce – or fail to counteract – racially disparate outcomes. For example: Critically examine informal practices within your organization and their impact on racial and ethnic minorities (e.g. mentoring, access to positions which lead to leadership opportunities, visibility etc.)

46 “Cultural” or “representational” change: Reframing and changing stereotypical messages, images and interpretations of information about people of color. For Example: Challenge assumptions that employees, board members, policymakers, the citizens of our communities, and other key actors bring to discussions about people of color because these assumptions “frame” how problems are perceived and how solutions are developed.

47 PROJECT BREAKTHROUGH: CHANGING THE STORY OF RACE IN JACKSONVILLE A partnership of The Community Foundation in Jacksonville, The Jacksonville Human Rights Commission, The OneJax Institute Since 2008, Project Breakthrough has worked on:  Promoting Civic Leadership: Convened Jacksonville’s key leaders in a seminar on structural racism  Changing Key Policies and Practices: Conducted training seminars for middle- & high-school educators Developed a curriculum for judges in Florida  Changing Media Messages: Convened Jacksonville’s media professionals in a seminar Conducted training seminars for the staff of the city’s newspaper, The Florida Times Union

48 Constructing a Racial Equity Theory of Change

49 Desired Racial Equity Outcome Building Block P +/- R+/-P+/-R+/-P +/- R +/-P +/- Who has most power, influence to shape PPRs Possible sources of retrenchment Assess our organizational capacity realistically Building Block Building Block Building Block Building Block What we want Our priorities What helps, hinders What we must know What we must do How governance works in our context Given our capacities, decide role we can play, set strategic priorities, identify allies Take action!!

50 Thank You The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change 281 Park Avenue South, 5 th Floor New York, NY (212)


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