Column: Institutionalized racism must be combatted with education

Lindsey Ulrey

Institutionalized racism, also known as systemic racism, is the most important political problem that the United States is currently facing. It is imperative to look back at the history of racism, so we can better understand how to address the problem of institutionalized racism and find valid solutions to this distressing problem.

There are many reasons that historians, anthropologists and sociologists have cited as the reason that racism became a problem. Some argue that racism is an irrational response to difference which causes some people with white skin to have hateful attitudes to people with black skin which sometimes leads to violent and evil actions. Racism in the United States has been around since the 1400s, beginning when European settlers began colonizing America. Europeans, in their quest to “civilize” people, began taking slaves and treating people who looked different from them as inferior. The first victims of racism were the Native Americans that were murdered, mistreated and taken advantage of by European settlers. This beginning set a dangerous precedent that still affects our society today. Karl Marx, German philosopher and socialist revolutionary, argued in one of his most noted works called “Das Kapital” that racism is rooted in capitalism.

I think that we need to increase the efforts that we are already making to decrease institutionalized racism. The most notable efforts that we need to increase include spreading awareness and education on racism in our government, protests and forward-thinking policy. All these efforts are linked, and none can happen independently. I believe that one of the most important things that can be done is spreading awareness and education on institutionalized racism because if everyone learns the amplitude of the problem and learns to “check their privilege,” most people will feel urgency to create change. Many are already feeling this urgency, and the recent Black Lives Matter protests are proof of this. I believe that these protests are directly linked to the increase in awareness brought to the problem of institutionalized racism. Much of this awareness is brought through social media and the increase in pictures and videos taken when injustice occurs. Protests then cause policymakers in the United States to feel the pressure to affect change.

To create more forward-thinking policy that is just and fair for people of color, policy needs to focus on expressly addressing specific outcomes dependent on race and give components to diminish those aberrations. To diminish those aberrations policy should focus on increasing the access to public and private resources for people of color, improving the freedom for people of color to express themselves fully both culturally and spiritually, removing barriers for people of color to participate civically and people of color should be heavily involved in creating policy.


Lindsey Ulrey is a freshman political science major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]