The Impact of Racism on Mental Health

And the Urgent Policy Solutions We Need NOW!

Understanding Systemic Racism

The rate of increase in incidences of racism and how it has permeated deep into our society is a topic that requires urgent public attention. Some of us may be aware of the extent of damage that racism has in the lives of people of color but many have largely overlooked its impact on their mental health.

One major mental health consequence that can form from these incidents is racial trauma – a health condition that is caused by experiences of racism such as workplace discrimination or hate crimes. It could also be due to an accumulation of several small occurrences, including everyday discrimination and microaggressions.

Recent studies carried out on several adolescents revealed that perceived racial or ethnic discrimination is connected to poorer mental health, lower academic achievement, and indulging in risky or harmful behaviors like substance abuse.

It is certainly true that people of color face mental health disparities. In a broader and even more recent perspective, the repeated police brutality in the US has become a major health problem, taking a grueling psychological toll on African American citizens across the country.

There is also substantial evidence of racism in the legal system. Prosecutors are more likely to grant pretrial diversion to white defendants than to black or Latino defendants who share similar legal characteristics. The ensuing pretrial jail incarceration can have especially significant negative health impact on people of color.

It is no news that community mental health care centers are also complicit in promoting racial and ethnic disparities. According to a report documented by the U.S. surgeon general on mental health, racial and ethnic minorities have less access to mental health services than their white counterparts. People of color are also less likely to receive optimum health care and are more likely to receive poor-quality care when they are treated.

The Tragic Death of George Floyd

(October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020)

George Floyd

George Floyd’s tragic death has set off historic protests around the country. People of different racial and ethnic backgrounds have taken to the streets in the wake of George Floyd’s death to demand an end to police brutality and what they perceive as systemic racism.

Although the struggle for equity has been on for hundreds of years, the tragedy of George Floyd’s death has become the catalyst – the pivotal moment we have right now, to fight for, and finally implement meaningful and effective legislation for the long overdue ‘structural’ changes so badly needed.

Following the death of George Floyd, there have been over 4,700 demonstrations during the recent Black Lives Matter protests, an average of 140 per day. Estimates suggest there could have been as many as 26 million people who participated.

These protests are demanding that political leaders rewrite “use of force” policies in various police departments across the country. Though these policies differ substantially from one jurisdiction to the other, the message is clear and constant – the urgent need to re-examine and rewrite the use of force policies by federal consent decrees.

For example, the type of “neck restraint” or chokehold used by the police officer responsible for George Floyd’s death has been banned in New York City since 1993. The need for this ban to be implemented in every jurisdiction across all 52 states cannot be overemphasized and the call is growing louder now more than ever.

Democrats have also proposed legislation to tackle inequities and reduce deaths in custody. We have witnessed the introduction of new measures that would require police to wear body cameras, visibly display their names and badge numbers, as well as simplify the process of prosecuting officers.

The Minneapolis city council has also made it compulsory for officers to intervene if their colleagues are using inappropriate force when making arrests; otherwise, they risk being complicit. The mayor of Los Angeles recently deducted $150m from a proposed city police budget after the growing demand for political leaders to “defund” the police. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York also pledged to divert money from the NYPD towards social services.

George Floyd’s tragic death has set off historic protests around the country, so it is not surprising that these “structural” developments are taking place today. A group known as MPD 150 even raised calls to dismantle the police – pressuring political leaders to create a “police-free future” in Minneapolis. Their vision is a future where mental health professionals, social workers, religious leaders, and other community-based advocates would substitute the role of the police.

Not only that, but several advocates for police reform have also argued that police today function more like domestic soldiers, using techniques and equipment designed for combat, rather than community peacekeepers trying to keep people safe, and that this approach costs lives. As a result, there have been calls to demilitarize the police by decreasing the use of weapons and refraining from teaching military-style tactics.

Next on the agenda is systemic racism, otherwise called, structural or institutional racism. This refers to systems or structures that have procedures or processes that prevent or make it more challenging for people of color – African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and other minorities – to participate in society and the economy.

Systemic racism assumes white superiority individually, ideologically and institutionally. It encompasses a broad range of systems in place that create and maintain racial inequality in nearly every facet of life for people of color. It persists in our schools, offices, court system, police departments, and elsewhere, affecting job opportunity, pay, health and democracy.

The assumption of white superiority can pervade thinking consciously and unconsciously. It breeds the issue of unconscious bias – where people don’t realize they are being racist or see themselves as racist, but benefit from systems that privilege white faces and voices.

Systemic racism encompasses a wide range of racialized dimensions of our society – the racist framing, racist ideology, racist emotions, stereotyped attitudes, discriminatory habits and actions, and established racist institutions created over hundreds of years by whites.

These faults of the system aren’t something any individual can fix; it is the responsibility of organizations and governments. By making conscious effort to recognize the more insidious forms of racism, they can counter their very real impact on the employment chances, pay, health and political engagement of ethnic minorities.

There are many pieces of evidence of systemic racism at play in our society today. Data on social and economic welfare show disparities between persons of color and their white counterparts. The rate of unemployment for African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are significantly higher than the national average.

The income inequality gap between whites and minorities is increasingly wider. The past six decades have also seen the black unemployment rate consistently double that of whites, irrespective of the economic situation at the time. Names can even influence employment opportunities. One Harvard study discovered that job candidates had a higher chance of getting an interview when they “whitened” their names.

People of color are also disadvantaged throughout every stage of the criminal justice system, despite glaring evidence of crimes being committed at nearly the same rates by other racial and ethnic groups. If a black and white person both commit a crime, the black person has a higher chance of being arrested. When a black person gets arrested, he is 20% more likely to be convicted and typically gets sentenced 20% longer than a white person who is arrested for the same crime.

The educational sector is also not devoid of the impact of systemic racism. Research shows that black students are three times more likely than white students to be suspended for the same infractions. In the world of healthcare, African Americans are the target of racial discrimination. A study carried out in 2012 showed that most doctors have “unconscious racial biases” when dealing with their black patients.

Systemic racism damages lives and hinders access and capacity for contribution. It cripples the ethical society we aspire to create. Public advocacy is critical, and speaking up is essential. When systemic injustices remain unspoken or accepted, an unethical white privilege is sustained. But when individuals and groups highlight systemic injustices and inequities, the dominant culture is made accountable.

Understanding Systemic Anti-Black Racism in the
United States: A Reference List

[This edited version was last updated on: 6/11/2020]

This list is a work in progress & will continue to improve with ongoing contributions. If you have a resource you would like to add to this list, please insert a comment with a link in the appropriate section of this document. Please use this as a resource in your homes, your schools, your communities – wherever it is needed. And most importantly, please be kind to one another.

When you look at events in history, nothing is isolated. Everything connects. It is impossible to understand police brutality, state violence, and anti-Black racism in the United States today without knowing about the long-term processes in which anti-Black racism is rooted and manifests. Unfortunately, many people have not learned history in a way that supports building and understanding those connections, and have been taught to think of “racism” as the actions of prejudiced individuals – not the operations of institutions white people control.

This list focuses specifically on structural racism – the institutions, policies, and practices that systematically exploit and disadvantage Black people and other people of color in the United States. It also includes numerous resources to help white folks and non-Black people of color better understand and dismantle their own knee-jerk responses to challenging conversations about race issues – the first step toward meaningful self-education and productive conversations.

WHERE TO START: “The Idea of America” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, the 1619 Project podcast, “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, this video by the Equal Justice Initiative explaining the route from slavery to mass incarceration, the intro video about the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement, this talk by Michelle Alexander on The New Jim Crow, and this essay by Kiese Laymon, and this video about segregation in the U.S. are all good options.

STARTING A DIALOGUE: If you want to engage in a respectful conversation with Black people and other people of color about race matters, please do some self-education first, including by reading the “Resources for White People and Non-Black People of Color”, which address many of the frequent pitfalls that whites and NBPOC often fall into when confronting challenging conversations on race matters. Also, as with most difficult conversations, it’s best to start with people you know well if at all possible.

Table of Contents

Historical Roots and Perpetuation of Anti-Black Racism in the United States

The Idea of America“, by Nikole Hannah-Jones, The New York Times, August 2019

The Case for Reparations“, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, June 2014

“Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.” This piece is one of the most comprehensive and accessible explorations of the roots of modern American racism. Slavery’s explosive growth, in charts: How ’20 and odd’ became millions (audio below…)

“Slavery to Mass Incarceration”, Equal Justice Initiative, July 7, 2015 (video below)

“The myth of racial difference that was created to sustain American slavery persists today. Slavery did not end in 1865, it evolved. The legacy of slavery can be seen in the presumption of guilt and dangerousness assigned to African Americans, especially young men and boys, the racial profiling and mistreatment that presumption creates, and the racial dynamics of mass incarceration.”

The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes: 315 years. 20,528 voyages. Millions of lives“, by Andrew Kahn and Jamelle Bouie, Slate Magazine, June 2015 (video below)

An interactive designed to give you a sense of the scale of the trans-Atlantic slave trade over time, as well as the flow of transport and eventual destinations.

Timeline: A History of Racial Injustice“, Equal Justice Initiative (graphic)

Snapshots of racial injustice over 400 years of American history.

A Report from Occupied Territory“, by James Baldwin, The Nation, July 11, 1966

“Furthermore, the Negro’s education, North and South, remains, almost totally, a segregated education, which is but another way of saying that he is taught the habits of inferiority every hour of every day that he lives. He will find it very difficult to overcome these habits. Furthermore, every attempt he makes to overcome them will be painfully complicated by the fact that the ways of being, the ways of life of the despised and rejected, nevertheless, contain an incontestable vitality and authority.”

Learning from the 60s“, an address by Audre Lorde at Harvard University, February 1982

“In the 60s, white America – racist and liberal alike – was more than pleased to sit back as spectator while Black militant fought Black Muslim, Black Nationalist badmouthed the nonviolent, and Black women were told that our only useful position in the Black Power movement was prone. The existence of Black lesbian and gay people was not even allowed to cross the public consciousness of Black America. We know in the 1980s, from documents gained through the Freedom of Information Act, that the FBI and CIA used our intolerance of difference to foment confusion and tragedy in segment after segment of Black communities of the 60s. Black was beautiful, but still suspect, and too often our forums for debate became stages for playing who’s-Blacker-than-who Or who’s-poorer-than-who games, ones in which there can be no winners.”

Housing and Urban Development

Historical perspective via the 1619 Project: “How Segregation Caused Your Traffic Jam“, by Kevin M. Kruse

Segregated by Design (video)

A free 20-minute online film that examines the forgotten history of how our federal, state and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in America through law and policy.

Historian Says Don’t ‘Sanitize’ How Our Government Created Ghettos“, Fresh Air, NPR, May 14, 2015 (audio below…)

“We have a myth today that the ghettos in metropolitan areas around the country are what the Supreme Court calls ‘de-facto’ — just the accident of the fact that people have not enough income to move into middle class neighborhoods or because real estate agents steered black and white families to different neighborhoods or because there was white flight,” Rothstein tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “It was not the unintended effect of benign policies,” he says. “It was an explicit, racially purposeful policy that was pursued at all levels of government, and that’s the reason we have these ghettos today and we are reaping the fruits of those policies.”

The Making of Ferguson: Public Policies at the Root of its Troubles“, by Richard Rothstein, Economic Policy Institute, October 15, 2014

“No doubt, private prejudice and suburbanites’ desire for homogeneous affluent environments contributed to segregation in St. Louis and other metropolitan areas. But these explanations are too partial, and too conveniently excuse public policy from responsibility. A more powerful cause of metropolitan segregation in St. Louis and nationwide has been the explicit intents of federal, state, and local governments to create racially segregated metropolises.”

A damning account of the federal government’s failure to vigorously enforce the landmark Fair Housing Act.

A Dream Still Deferred“, by Thomas Sugrue, The New York Times Op-Ed, March 26, 2011

“But those explanations were just convenient myths. Blacks and whites alike wanted to own their own homes and gardens, find better schools for their children, and live on safe streets. But unlike whites, blacks did not have the freedom to move where they pleased. Detroit had many all-white suburbs with affordable housing, but qualified black homeowners could not get mortgages to move there. Whites, meanwhile, benefited from enormous homeownership subsidies through the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration; blacks did not, at least until the late 1960s, when local, state and federal laws that forbade housing discrimination were passed.”

Property, Land Theft, and Looting

The Massacre of Black Wall Street (graphic), The Atlantic, May 2020

In 1921, about 11,000 Black residents lived in the neighborhood of Greenwood, north of the Frisco railroad tracks in Tulsa. It was self-contained and self-sufficient: Black-owned grocery stores, banks, libraries, hotels, movie theatres, and more lined the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, Greenwood Avenue. It all ended in one of the worst instances of mass racial violence in American history.

The Tulsa Massacre and the Destruction of Black Wall Street

The Great Land Robbery: The shameful story of how 1 million black families have been ripped from their farms”, The Atlantic, August 2019

“The land was wrested first from Native Americans, by force. It was then cleared, watered, and made productive for intensive agriculture by the labor of enslaved Africans, who after Emancipation would come to own a portion of it. Later, through a variety of means—sometimes legal, often coercive, in many cases legal and coercive, occasionally violent—farmland owned by black people came into the hands of white people. It was aggregated into larger holdings, then aggregated again, eventually attracting the interest of Wall Street. Owners of small farms everywhere, black and white alike, have long been buffeted by larger economic forces. But what happened to black landowners in the South, and particularly in the Delta, is distinct, and was propelled not only by economic change but also by white racism and local white power. A war waged by deed of title has dispossessed 98 percent of black agricultural landowners in America. They have lost 12 million acres over the past century. But even that statement falsely consigns the losses to long-ago history. In fact, the losses mostly occurred within living memory, from the 1950s onward.”

Their Family Bought Land One Generation After Slavery. The Reels Brothers Spent Eight Years in Jail for Refusing to Leave It”. ProPublica/The New Yorker, July 2019

In Defense of Looting“, The New Inquiry, August 21, 2014

“Modern American police forces evolved out of fugitive slave patrols, working to literally keep property from escaping its owners. The history of the police in America is the history of black people being violently prevented from threatening white people’s property rights. When, in the midst of an anti-police protest movement, people loot, they aren’t acting non-politically, they aren’t distracting from the issue of police violence and domination, nor are they fanning the flames of an always-already racist media discourse. Instead, they are getting straight to the heart of the problem of the police, property, and white supremacy.”

Black Riot“, by Raven Rakia, The New Inquiry, November 14, 2013

“When property is destroyed by black protesters, it must always be understood in the context of the historical racialization of property. When the same system that refuses to protect black children comes out to protect windows, what is valued over black people in America becomes very clear.”

Immigration (new section -- in progress )

Immigration Reform Is a Black Thing, Too“, Opal Tometi, The Root, November 23, 2014

“What some … are calling a risky political concession to Latinos is really a much-needed executive action taken by the president that will benefit African, Caribbean, Afro-Latino immigrants and African Americans. For me as an immigrant-rights activist and the daughter of Nigerian parents, the president’s decision is both politically and personally significant, as it is for my family and the communities that my organization—the Black Alliance for Just Immigration—fights for every day. Black immigrants, African Americans and other communities of color are closely intertwined. Historically and currently, we win when fighting side by side for social progress, and now is not the time for us to be divided by the politics and trade-offs that Ellison suggests. When we take into account the realities of anti-immigrant policy, including voter-ID laws and legalized racial profiling, in measures such as Arizona’s S.B. 1070, it is clear that immigrant rights are a racial-justice issue, tied closely to the social and political priorities of African Americans.”

“There are a few ways to consider Trump’s newfound interest in the plight of black Americans. This being electoral politics, and the subject of interest being Donald Trump, one can discount racial justice or even magnanimity as among his motivations. What’s left, then? … In Trump’s limited political imagination, economic investment in black Americans and humanitarian inclusion of refugees are either/or proposals and our national capacity for caring is zero-sum. Tellingly, in Trump’s rendering, the concerns of black Americans never overlap with the concerns of immigrant communities; they are always only at odds with each other. In his vision, the greatest threat to African Americans, after Hillary Clinton, are immigrants … This is not a new tack.

Anti-immigration advocates have been attempting to recruit African Americans to their cause for decades—or, more precisely, anti-immigration advocates have long couched anti-immigrant sentiment in rhetoric that suggests concern for the welfare for African Americans.”

Intersectionality & Disproportionate Impacts within Black Communities

The Intersectionality Wars“, Jane Coaston, vox.com, May 28, 2019

Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait“, Kimberlé Crenshaw, The Washington Post, September 24, 2015

“I wanted to define this profound invisibility in relation to the law. Racial and gender discrimination overlapped not only in the workplace but in other arenas of life; equally significant, these burdens were almost completely absent from feminist and anti-racist advocacy. Intersectionality, then, was my attempt to make feminism, anti-racist activism, and anti-discrimination law do what I thought they should — highlight the multiple avenues through which racial and gender oppression were experienced so that the problems would be easier to discuss and understand.”

Black Children

Black Boys Viewed as Older, Less Innocent Than Whites, Research Finds“, American Psychological Association press release, March 6, 2014

“Children in most societies are considered to be in a distinct group with characteristics such as innocence and the need for protection. Our research found that black boys can be seen as responsible for their actions at an age when white boys still benefit from the assumption that children are essentially innocent,” said author Phillip Atiba Goff, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles. The full study can be found here.

How Black Girls Are Locked Out of America’s Schools“, Clio Chang, New Republic, March 14, 2016

“Schools—unless they intentionally attempt to reverse these trends—often reflect the oppressive norms of society at large. These are the types of norms through which someone could see the temper tantrum of a black six-year-old girl as violent and dangerous. They also contribute to stereotyping that frames black girls as “sassy”, “ratchet”, and “defiant”—so much so that black girls often get labeled by their teachers as disruptive and disrespectful simply for asking questions in class.”

Black LGBTQ

Those Who Marriage Equality Left Behind“, Esquire, June 24, 2016

“Today, well-off LGBT people have become homeowners, wedding planners, and the coveted new target demographic of marketers. But this is not a reality for a class of the LGBT community for whom setting up a wedding registry comes far behind the specter of police violence, poverty, and HIV/AIDS. Perhaps this is why marriage equality does not offer the same egalitarian rallying cry for queer Americans of the Stonewall riots or the AIDS epidemic: It benefits a select few who express their love in a normalized way …

At the same time, some white LGBT leaders, forgetting their own movement’s roots, have condemned the more radical actions of Black Lives Matter (which is a movement co-founded and routinely led by queer women).”

Black Women

#SayHerName Initiative, African-American Policy Forum

According to AAPF Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Although Black women are routinely killed, raped, and beaten by the police, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in popular understandings of police brutality. Yet, inclusion of Black women’s experiences in social movements, media narratives, and policy demands around policing and police brutality is critical to effectively combating racialized state violence for Black communities and other communities of color.”

“Black folks of all genders take to the streets to protest the stark reality that Black men and boys are disproportionately victims of police killings. The comparative lack of mobilized outrage for the killing of Black women and girls is an injurious erasure. It also begs the soul-crushing question: Why does killing Black women and girls warrant only a footnote in how we understand and reckon with police violence? Police and state violence against Black women and girls in this nation began with the trans-Atlantic slave trade and continues through the deaths of Black women in police custody such as Diamond Ross, Layleen Polanco, Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman, Ralkina Jones, and Joyce Curnell. This history encompasses lynchings, rampant sexual violence, physical assaults, and the criminalization of Black womanhood and girlhood. The convergence of anti-Black racism and sexism in U.S. history is a violent and too-often fatal force.”

“We also must recognize other types of violence or else we miss parts of the population,” said Charlene Carruthers, national director of the Black Youth Project 100.

“When we look at how police and state violence affects black women, it includes black women and girls getting killed. It also includes black women and girls being sexually assaulted, harassed and beaten by officers as well.”

Black Females Voices – Who Is Listening? A Public Dialogue Between bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry“, November 11, 2013 (video below…)

An incredible conversation between two of the leading black Feminist thinkers in the country.

A Public Dialogue Between bell hooks and Laverne Cox“, October 13, 2014 (video below…)

Laverne Cox is a critically acclaimed actress who currently appears in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, playing the groundbreaking role of “Sophia Burset”, an incarcerated African American transgender woman. Laverne is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show. Time Magazine named Sophia Burset the 4th most influential fictional character of 2013. bell hooks (née Gloria Watkins) is among the leading public intellectuals of her generation. Her writings cover a broad range of topics including gender, race, teaching, and contemporary culture Toni Morrison and Junot Diaz in Conversation at the New York Public Library, December 13, 2013 (video)

Toni Morrison and Junot Diaz in Conversation at the New York Public Library, December 13, 2013 (video below…)

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Black Girl Walking“, by Hope Wabuke, Gawker, November 16, 2013

“Really, though, I wonder what I as a black woman can do, in America in 2013, to be seen not as the target of raced and gendered violence, but as a black woman worthy of respect, decency, and protection because of my race and gender, not in spite of my race and gender. What will it take for black women like me, like Marissa Alexander, and like Renisha McBride, to ever be treated and defended by the citizens of our country as innocent?”

Which #BlackLivesMatter? The killings no one’s talking about“, by Emma Margolin, MSNBC, February 2, 2015

“And yet, despite these high rates of violence, no slain transgender woman of color has ever received the same level of attention as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown or Eric Garner – a fact that has caused some to wonder whether the Black Lives Matter movement would more aptly be titled, ‘Cisgender Black Male Straight Lives Matter.'”

“The reproduction of human property and the social relations of racial slavery were predicated upon the belly. Plainly put, subjection was anchored in black women’s reproductive capacities. The captive female body, according to Spillers, “locates precisely a moment of converging political and social vectors that mark the flesh as a prime commodity of exchange.”

Afro-Latinos (new section – in progress)

Afro-Latino: A Deeply Rooted Identity Among U.S. Hispanics“, Pew Research Center, March 1, 2016

“A Pew Research Center survey of Latino adults shows that one-quarter of all U.S. Latinos self-identify as Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean or of African descent with roots in Latin America. This is the first time a nationally representative survey in the U.S. has asked the Latino population directly whether they considered themselves Afro-Latino … Afro-Latinos’ views of race are also unique. When asked directly about their race, only 18% of Afro-Latinos identified their race or one of their races as black … These findings reflect the complexity of identity and race among Latinos. For example, two-thirds of Latinos (67%) say their Hispanic background is a part of their racial background. This is in contrast to the U.S. Census Bureau’s own classification of Hispanic identity – census survey forms have described ‘Hispanic’ as an ethnic origin, not a race. The multiple dimensions of Hispanic identity also reflect the long colonial history of Latin America, during which mixing occurred among indigenous Americans, white Europeans, slaves from Africa and Asians.”

Criminalization of Black People

Historical perspective via the 1619 Project Resource: “Why American Prisons Owe Their Cruelty to Slavery“, by Bryan Stevenson

Police Brutality

“Across almost all counties, individuals who were armed and shot by police had a much higher probability of being black or Hispanic than being white. Likewise, across almost all counties, individuals who were unarmed and shot by police had a much higher probability of being Black or Hispanic than being white. Tragically, across a large proportion of counties, individuals who were shot by police had a higher median probability of being unarmed black individuals than being armed white individuals.

While this pattern could be explained by reduced levels of crime being committed by armed white individuals, it still raises a question as to why there exists such a high rate of police shooting of unarmed black individuals.”

The Counted: People Killed by Police in the U.S.The Guardian. Updated continually from 2015-16 with information about victims of police killings

Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no“, by Wesley Lowery, The Washington Post, July 11, 2016

“According to the most recent census data, there are nearly 160 million more white people in America than there are black people. White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.”

Summer Heat” by Mariame Kaba, The New Inquiry, June 8, 2015

“Most often, it’s police shootings and killings that spark urban uprisings. However, the daily indignities and more invisible harms are ever-present and are the foundation of hostilities between young people of color and police. Routine state violence carried out by the police happens outside of public view under the guise of addressing gun and other forms of violence. If past is prologue, my community can look forward to another summer of intense, relentless, and surely illegal police harassment of young people of color and specifically of young black men.”

It’s Time to Focus on the Other Fergusons in America“, by Donovan X. Ramsey, The New Republic, March 13, 2015

“The prevalence of police brutality has long demanded federal intervention.”
“What do you do instead of calling the police? How do you keep yourself safe without seeking protection from a system that is predicated upon the surveillance and extermination of others? We start by shifting our perspective. We start by learning about the racist history of the police. We start by saying; an alternative to this system should exist.”

Prison Industrial Complex & Prison Abolition

For more in-depth resources on this topic, see this resource guide: Prison Abolition and Alternatives to Incarceration Starter Resources

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, 2012. Read the introduction here.

Watch her TEDx Talk (video) on the same subject here:

“Once you’re labeled a felon … [t]he old forms of discrimination — employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service — are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

“Abolition means not just the closing of prisons but the presence, instead, of vital systems of support that many communities lack. Instead of asking how, in a future without prisons, we will deal with so-called violent people, abolitionists ask how we resolve inequalities and get people the resources they need long before the hypothetical moment when, as Gilmore puts it, they ‘mess up.'”

War on Drugs (in progress)

“Let me ask y’all a rhetorical question: Did the media cover the crack epidemic in black and brown communities like they are currently covering the heroin/opioid/crystal meth crises in primarily white communities? Do they cover the current synthetic marijuana crisis in black and brown communities like they are currently covering the heroin/opioid/crystal meth crises in primarily white communities? Nah, they do not.”

Debunking the "Black on Black Crime" Narrative

The Myth of Black on Black Crime“, Michael Harriot, June 4, 2020 (Twitter thread)

“If the Black on Black crime rate is damn near the same as white on white crime; if Black people work HARDER and spend more money on it; if the insignificant differences in interracial crime can be explained by poverty… Then why does this… myth exist?”

About ‘Black-on-Black Crime‘”, by Gary Younge, The Nation, December 9, 2014

“America is very segregated, and its criminality conforms to that fact. So the victims of most crimes are the same race as those who commit them. Eighty-four percent of white people who are killed every year are killed by white people. White people who buy illegal drugs are most likely to buy them from white people. Far from being extraordinary, the fact that black criminals are most likely to commit crimes against black people makes them just like everybody else. A more honest term than “black-on-black crime” would be, simply, ‘crime’.”

The Poverty of Culture“, by Jonah Birch and Paul Heideman, Jacobin, September 16, 2014

“Research suggests that violent crime rates are driven by a variety of social factors which tend to make American cities particularly prone to gun violence against black residents. Among the most of these factors are very high levels of neighborhood segregation, concentrated un- and underemployment, poverty and a dearth of adequate social services or institutional resources. Fundamentally, gun violence has to be treated like other kinds of public health problems — not as the basis for continuous, empty calls for an introspective discussion about ‘black on black violence’. And like other kinds of public health disparities, tackling high rates of interpersonal violence requires confronting the social context in which it occurs.”

Spoiler alert: they do, a lot.

Black People Are Not Ignoring ‘Black-on-Black Crime’“, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, August 15, 2014

“The policy of America has been, for most of its history, white supremacy. The high rates of violence in black neighborhoods do not exist outside of these facts – they evidence them.”

Summary

Over the years, African Americans have been adversely affected by the impact of racism in virtually every aspect of society. Intersectionality and disproportionate policies affect black communities in ways that are much more severe than is reported.

White Americans underestimate the impact of these effects but overestimate the proportion of crime committed by African Americans, not hesitating to associate people of color with criminality. Black boys are generally viewed as older and less innocent than whites, even though they may share the same age and body build.

It’s a shame that even in this day and age; people of color still have to deal with the sad reality of modern-day segregation in public schools. A report recently published showed that 5% percent of white students were suspended annually, compared with 16% of black students. At the same time, minority students have less access to experienced teachers.

In employment, names can influence employment opportunities. A Harvard study found job candidates were more likely to get an interview when they “whitened” their name because white names receive 50% more callbacks for interviews. When it comes to public benefits, whites are lopsidedly over-represented as beneficiaries of the submerged state. They support welfare programs but only for themselves.

The amount of discrimination is uniform across occupations and industries. We have come to realize that the entire discussion of race in America centers around the protection of White feelings. The need for White Americans to educate themselves about race and racism, therefore, cannot be overemphasized.

Periodic updates will be made to the educational resources presented on this page, so endeavor to check back occasionally. By making a conscious effort to gain a deeper understanding of racial issues, and by taking a stronger stance at shifting away from a system embedded with processes, attitudes and behaviors that amount to discrimination through prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping.

Here we are in the 21st century, 50+ years after the civil rights movement, and the death of Martin Luther King Jr. And now, the widely circulated video of the killing of George Floyd sparks a new flame in the hearts of liberty seekers across the country and even around the world. Let this be the time; let the ideal of “Liberty and Justice for ALL” move us forward together into a brighter future.

– Nothing Is More Powerful Than an Idea Whose Time Has Come –