Brian Corley (NNM’s Diversity Director and JH Math and Science Teacher) and I spent a good part of last weekend at a training sponsored by Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training.
The main focus was on identifying and combatting structural, systemic and institutional racism. When thinking of racism, some people conjure visions of KKK members, burning crosses and police dogs. While overt, individual racism certainly still exists, the larger problem is one that is structural, systemic and institutional in nature. By “systemic, structural and institutional”, we mean large organizations that have been in place for a long time and touch almost all areas of an individual’s daily life. A few examples include: the financial system, the media, the educational system, law enforcement, religion and housing.
The enormity of these systems and institutions make it incredibly challenging to affect any change. Institutional racism may be harder to identify because it is often just part of “tradition” or “how we’ve always done things”.
One of the most important aspects of engaging in anti-racism work is the role of white people. Those who are in the “majority” group must act as allies if we have any hope of moving toward equality.