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Institutional racism is any system of inequality based on race. It can occur in institutions such as public government bodies, private business corporations (such as media outlets), and universities (public and private). The term was introduced by Black Power activists Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton in the late 1960s. The definition given by William Macpherson within the report looking into the death of Stephen Lawrence was “the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin”.
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The concept of institutional racism re-emerged in political discourse in the late 1990s after a long hiatus, but has remained a contested concept that has been critiqued by multiple constituencies. Institutional racism is the differential access to the goods, services, and opportunities of society. When the differential access becomes integral to institutions, it becomes common practice, making it difficult to rectify. Eventually, this racism dominates public bodies, private corporations, and public and private universities, and is reinforced by the actions of conformists and newcomers. Another difficulty in reducing institutionalized racism is that there is no sole, true identifiable perpetrator. When racism is built into the institution, it appears as the collective action of the population.
Professor James M. Jones postulates three major types of racism: (i) Personally mediated, (ii) internalized, and (iii) institutionalized. Personally mediated racism includes the specific social attitudes inherent to racially prejudiced action (bigoted differential assumptions about abilities, motives, and the intentions of others according to), discrimination (the differential actions and behaviours towards others according to their race), stereotyping, commission, and omission (disrespect, suspicion, devaluation, and dehumanization). Internalized racism is the acceptance, by members of the racially stigmatized people, of negative perceptions about their own abilities and intrinsic worth, characterized by low self-esteem, and low esteem of others like them. This racism can be manifested through embracing “whiteness” (e.g. stratification by skin colour in non-white communities), self-devaluation (e.g. racial slurs, nicknames, rejection of ancestral culture, etc.), and resignation, helplessness, and hopelessness (e.g. dropping out of school, failing to vote, engaging in health-risk practices, etc.).
Persistent negative stereotypes fuel institutional racism, and influence interpersonal relations. Racial stereotyping contributes to patterns of racial residential segregation, and shape views about crime, crime policy, and welfare policy, especially if the contextual information is stereotype-consistent.
Institutional racism is distinguished from racial bigotry by the existence of institutional systemic policies, practices and economic and political structures which place minority racial and ethnic groups at a disadvantage in relation to an institution’s racial or ethnic majority. One example is public school budgets (including local levies and bonds) and the quality of teachers, which in the U.S. are often correlated with property values: rich neighborhoods are more likely to be more 'white' and to have better teachers and more money for education, even in public schools. Restrictive housing contracts and bank lending policies have also been listed as forms of institutional racism. Other examples sometimes described as institutional racism are racial profiling by security guards and police, use of stereotyped racial caricatures, the under- and mis-representation of certain racial groups in the mass media, and race-based barriers to gainful employment and professional advancement. Additionally, differential access to goods, services, and opportunities of society can be included within the term institutional racism, such as unpaved streets and roads, inherited socio-economic disadvantage, “standardized” tests (each ethnic group prepared for it differently; many are poorly prepared), et cetera.
Some sociological[who?] investigators distinguish between institutional racism and "structural racism" (sometimes called structured racialization). The former focuses upon the norms and practices within an institution, the latter upon the interactions among institutions, interactions that produce racialized outcomes against non-white people. An important feature of structural racism is that it cannot be reduced to individual prejudice or to the single function of an institution.
The racial segregation and disparities in wealth between white and black people are legacies of historical policies. In the Social Security Act of 1935, agricultural workers servants, most of whom were black, were excluded because key white southerners did not want governmental assistance to change the agrarian system. In the Wagner Act of 1935, "blacks were blocked by law from challenging the barriers to entry into the newly protected labor unions and securing the right to collective bargaining." In the National Housing Act of 1939, the property appraisal system tied property value and eligibility for government loans to race. The 1936 Underwriting Maual used by the Federal Housing Administration to guide residential mortgages gave 20% weight to a neighborhood's protection, for example, zoning ordinances, deed restrictions, high speed traffic arteries, from adverse influences, such as infiltration of inharmonious racial groups. Thus, white-majority neighborhoods received the government's highest property value ratings, and white people were eligible for government loans. Between 1934 and 1962, less than 2 percent of government-subsidized housing went to non-white people.
In 1968, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) was signed into law to eliminate the effects of state-sanctioned racial segregation. But it failed to change the status quo as the United States remained nearly segregated as in the 1960s. A new recent discriminating lending practice was the subprime lending in the 1990s. Lenders targeted high-interest subprime loans to low-income and minority neighborhoods who might be eligible for fair-interest prime loans. Securitization, mortgage brokers and other non-deposit lenders, and legislative deregulation of the mortgage lending industry all played a role in promoting the subpriming lending market.
Institutional racism affects access to health and health care in non-white minority communities, resulting in racial disparities in health status. During 1865-1906 period, racial discrimination in the union army disability pension system adversely affected black veterans' application and access to disability pension. The over-representation of minorities in disease categories (including AIDS), is partly related to racism, according to J. Hutchinson. In a 1992 article, he describes how the federal government’s national response to the AIDS epidemic in minority communities has been slow, showing insensitivity to ethnic diversity in preventive medicine, community health maintenance, and AIDS treatment services.
Institutional racism can impact upon minority health directly through health-related policies, as well as through other factors indirectly. For example, racial segregation disproportionately exposed black communities to chemical substances such as lead paint, respiratory irritants such as diesel fumes, crowding, litter, and noise. Also, black communities were more likely to lack safe recreational spaces and healthy food, and to be targeted for risky behaviors (e.g. alcohol and tobacco advertisement). Racial minority groups who have a disadvantaged status in education are employment are more likely to be uninsured, which significantly impedes them from accessing preventive, diagnostic, or therapeutic health services.
Although approximately two thirds of crack cocaine users are white or Hispanic, a large percentage of people convicted of possession of crack cocaine in federal courts in 1994 were black. In 1994 84.5% of the defendants convicted of crack cocaine possession were black while 10.3% were white and 5.2% were Hispanic. Possession for powder cocaine was more racially mixed with 58% of the offenders being white, 26.7% black, and 15% Hispanic. Within the federal judicial system a person convicted of possession with intent to distribute powder cocaine carries a five-year sentence for quantities of 500 grams or more while a person convicted of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine faces a five-year sentence for quantities of five grams or more. With the combination of severe and unbalanced drug possession laws along with the rates of conviction in terms of race, the judicial system has created a huge racial disparity.
The previous sections talk about institutional racism against black people or communities. Many other minorities group also suffer from institutional racism. One example is immigration policies against Chinese. The intensified job competition during the 1870s on the West Coast between Chinese workers and Whites invoked anti-Chinese movement. The first Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was passed to prohibit Chinese immigrating to the United States, resulting in only 10 Chinese immigrants into the U.S. in 1887. The labor shortage after the decline of Chinese immigrant labor proved the fact of White racism. For more information, see History of Chinese Americans.There were other anti-immigration policies in history against France and Ireland in late 1700s(see Oppostion to immigration), Southern Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Jews, Africans, Arabs, East Asians, and Indians (see Immigration Act of 1924). Anti-immigration sentiment can also affect minorities who have been U.S. citizens for severnal generations(see Internment of Japanese Americans).
Standardized testing has also been considered a form of institutional racism, because it is believed to be biased in favor of people from particular socio-cultural backgrounds. Some minorities have consistently tested worse than whites on virtually all standardized tests, even after controlling for socioeconomic status. The achievement gap between white and black students mirrors the gap between the two groups in a variety of IQ tests, many of which are designed to be culturally neutral. The cause of the achievement gap between black, Hispanic, and white students has yet to be fully elucidated.
In the 1960s, students of color started attending colleges and universities in record numbers after the passage of the Civil Rights and Higher Education Acts. However, the obstacles of integration in predominantly white institutions of higher education led to unforeseen obstacles for faculty and students of color working and studying in such environments. "Few colleges and universities were prepared for the inherent challenges in educating such a diverse population of college students. As a result, the history of intergroup relations is marked by periods of campus unrest and heated, if not violent, exchanges between diverse groups of students" 
The 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision was the beginning of the process of desegregation and the elimination of de jure discrimination. However, it was hard to determine the challenges that the process would present and the obstacles that would continue to this day. If anything, “evidence in the post-Brown era points to increases in bias-related incidents, ranging from verbal and physical intimidation to the use of degrading and insensitive stereotypes,”. The increase of racial tension and racial incidents in institutes of higher education are said to be due to the “lack of knowledge, experience, and contact with diverse peers; peer-group influence; increased competition and stress; the influence of off-campus groups and the media; alcohol use; changing values; fear of diversity; and the perception of unfair treatment". Institutionalized racism in higher education has received little national attention, even though it is a relevant issue affecting many colleges and universities.
Faculty of color face racism within institutions of higher education as they challenge widely held beliefs regarding race relations in America. Structural inequality may be ignored under the assumption that racism will disappear within its own time. Racism is manifest in a variety of ways, including but not limited to, undervaluation of research, unwritten rules and policies regarding the tenure process, and a lack of mentorship for faculty of color. Women of color faculty are often caught within a double bind as they face discrimination based on both race and gender. Faculty members at institutions of higher education are predominately white, with faculty of color constituting roughly 17% of total faculty, with 7.5% Asian, 5.5% Black, 3.5% Latino, and 0.5% American Indian (see chart). Failure to fully implement Affirmative Action is identified as another contributing factor to low numbers of representation.
Faculty members of color often engage in research regarding issues of diversity, which is frequently deemed “risky” by white faculty members. Widespread beliefs founded on the concept of meritocracy, where success is based solely on individual effort, put into question research revealing structural issues that contribute to success. Political undertones of research within the social sciences are used to put the validity and scientific nature of the findings into question, despite the fact that research in these fields is conducted in the same manner as research in less politically contentious areas of interest. Research methodologies long accepted in other disciplines are called into question depending on the implications of findings, particularly when these findings may reveal racial inequities in the general population and/or the institution itself. “Thus, research appearing to be neutral and scholarly, has important political manifestations, including the justification for racial inequalities that are replicated within the student and alumni bodies of institutions that formally state that they value diversity even as all of their internal mechanisms reproduce exclusionary dominance for some racial groups”.
This concern is especially glaring in private institutions, where concerns regarding the reception of said research by alumni, corporate interests, and other potential donors play into acceptance of research by faculty. In one case study, race- and diversity-related research deemed valid by the highest level of national disciplinary associations was rejected by faculty and administrators, alluding to the existence and enforcement of unwritten rules regarding research acceptance. The rejection of research by faculty of color is a contributing factor to difficulty attaining tenure, with a higher performance bar set for those whose findings may contradict widely accepted beliefs regarding race relations.
Faculty members of color also face barriers as they work to include topics of diversity in their courses, as White students often resist the inclusion of multicultural perspectives. Challenges in the classroom appear to be connected to issues of gender and age as well as race. For example, African American women faculty aged 35 and younger are challenged more by White female students in their 20s, while those 40 and older face more challenges from students in nontraditional age groups.
The racial demographics of institutions of higher education in the United States are quickly changing. Institutions of higher education were often traditionally known as Predominantly White Institutions (PWI's). These institutions are now challenged to improve their diversity efforts and create policies that address the root cause of negative racial climate on PWI campuses. It is estimated that by 2010, 40% of high school graduates would be non-white. While racial segregation in high schools increased, institutions of higher education were becoming more racially diverse. Due to segregation in high schools, a lot of college students find themselves having their first interracial contact in college. Universities and colleges that have identified diversity as one of their priorities should plan how to strategically and in a sensitive manner create a campus climate in which all students, in particular students of color in a PWI, do not have to risk feeling unsafe, discriminated against, marginalized or tokenized to obtain a post-secondary degree.
Data has shown that students of color and White students have different perceptions of campus racial climates. In a survey of 433 undergraduate students at one institution found that, in comparison to White students, students of color felt differently about campus policies. White students were more often to describe their campus racial climate as positive, while students of African descent rated it as negative. Findings indicate that students of color experience harassment that is, “offensive, hostile, or intimidating” at higher rates than White students, which interferes with their learning. Further, “students of color perceived the climate as more racist and less accepting than did White students, even though White students recognized racial harassment at similar rates as students of color”.
White students also felt more positive about their classroom experience and the way professors presented various viewpoints in the curriculum, about institutional policies as well as recruitment and retention of student of color. Students of African descent and other students of color felt the campus environment was not friendly and that they had been targets of racism. In another study of 5,000 first year students at 93 institutions, White students were more likely to agree with the statement that “racial discrimination is no longer a problem” than students of color. White students were also more likely to feel that the campus climate is improving in comparison to students of color. White students felt the campus climate was non-racist, friendly, and respectful while students of color felt that it was racist, hostile, and disrespectful. Research has shown that racial diversification in colleges and universities, without intentional education about systematic racism and the history of race in the United States, can lead to creating a racial campus climate that is oppressive towards students of color. There needs to be, “intentional education interventions related to the changing racial composition of college students [which] would likely influence how the climate of an environment changes”.
If institutional racism is to be addressed in institutes of higher education, different types of interventions need to be created, in particular interventions created specifically for the academy. Rankin and Reason’s research concluded that for intervention to be effective, faculty would need to be used as socializing agents on campus, in particular because, intellectual and behavioral norms on most campuses are set by faculty and, these norms have a heavy impact on campus climate. An example of students trying to change racial campus climate is the Being Black at the University of Michigan #BBUM moment. The Black Student Union is organizing and collaborating with organizations to bring attention to the racial climate at the University of Michigan and how it is affecting all students. It order to create interventions that lead to sustainable learning about race, institutions of higher education need to equally value the histories and experiences of students of color and White students. One example of this is required coursework through the departments of African/African-American Studies, Xicano studies, Arab American studies, and Native American studies alongside the History department. Research has shown that curricular diversity is positively associated with intergroup attitudes, decreased racial prejudice and intergroup understanding, and attitudes toward campus diversity.
The Canadian government passed The Chinese Immigration Act, 1885 levying a $50 head tax upon all Chinese immigrating to Canada. When the 1885 act failed to deter Chinese immigration, the Canadian government then passed The Chinese Immigration Act, 1900, increasing the head tax to $100, and, upon that act failing, passed The Chinese Immigration Act, 1904 increasing the head tax (landing fee) to $500, equivalent to $8000 in 2003 — when compared to the head tax — Right of Landing Fee and Right of Permanent Residence Fee — of $975 per person, paid by new immigrants in 1995–2005 decade, which then was reduced to $490 in 2006.
The Chinese Immigration Act, 1923, better known as the "Chinese Exclusion Act", replaced prohibitive fees with a ban on Chinese immigration to Canada — excepting merchants, diplomats, students, and "special circumstance" cases. The Chinese who entered Canada before 1923 had to register with the local authorities, and could leave Canada only for two years or less. Since the Exclusion Act went into effect on 1 July 1923, Chinese-Canadians referred to Canada Day (Dominion Day) as "Humiliation Day", refusing to celebrate it until the Act’s repeal in 1947.
The Malaysian Chinese and Indian-Malaysians - who are significant ethnic minorities in Malaysia - were granted citizenship by the Malaysian Constitution but this implied a social contract that left them at a disadvantage in other ways, as Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia refers to the special "position" of the Malay people,
In 1970 the Malaysian New Economic Policy a program of Affirmative action aimed at increasing the share of the economy held by the Malay population, introduced quotas for Malays in areas such as public education, access to housing, vehicle imports, government contracts and share ownership.
Since Article 160 defines a Malay as "professing the religion of Islam", those eligible to benefit from laws assisting bumiputra are, in theory, subject to religious law enforced by the parallel Syariah Court system.
There are four main ethnic groups on the island of Sri Lanka: the Sinhalese who made up 69% of the population in 1946, Indian Tamils (12%), Sri Lankan Tamils (11%) and Sri Lankan Moors (6%). The discrimination against the Sri Lankan Tamil minority by the Sinhalese controlled Sri Lankan state was one of the main causes of the 26 year Sri Lankan Civil War which killed between 80,000 and 100,000 people.
Immediately after independence the Sinhalese dominated government of Ceylon introduced the Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948 which deliberately discriminated against the Indian Tamil ethnic minority by making it virtually impossible for them to obtain citizenship of Ceylon. Approximately 700,000 Indian Tamils were made stateless. Over the next three decades more than 300,000 Indian Tamils were deported back to India. It wasn't until 2003, 55 years after independence, that all Indian Tamils living in Sri Lanka were granted citizenship but by this time they only made up 5% of the island's population.
In 1956 the Ceylon government introduced the Sinhala Only Act, replacing English with Sinhala as the official language of Ceylon. The Act was a deliberate attempt to correct the perceived disproportionately high number of Sri Lankan Tamils working in the Ceylon Civil Service and other public services. However, the Tamil language speaking minorities of the Ceylon (Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Moors) viewed the Act as linguistic, cultural and economic discrimination against them. Many Tamil speaking civil servants/public servants were forced to resign because they weren't fluent in Sinhala. The detrimental impact of the Act on the civil/public services forced the government to relax the language laws: in 1977 Tamil was made a 'national language' and in 1987 it was made an official language.
The 1971 Universities Act introduced a policy of standardization to correct disproportionately high number of Sri Lankan Tamils students entering universities. Officially the policy was meant to discriminate in favour of students from rural areas but in reality the policy discriminated against Sri Lankan Tamil students who were in effect required gain more marks than Sinhalese students to gain admission to universities. The number of Sri Lankan Tamil students entering universities fell dramatically. The policy was abandoned in 1977.
Other forms of official discrimination against the Sri Lankan Tamils included the state-sponsored colonisation of traditional Tamil areas by Sinhalese peasants, the banning of the import of Tamil-language media and the precedence given by the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka to Buddhism, the main religion followed by the Sinhalese.
The Sri Lankan Tamils reacted to the discrimination by calling for political devolution (federalism) and staging peaceful protests but were met with violence and ethnic riots. This in turn resulted in moderate Tamils calling for self determination but some young Tamils reacted by forming a number of militant groups, the most prominent being the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). By 1983 full scale civil war had erupted between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government. The civil war ended in May 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE but many independent/international observers recognised that the continued discrimination against the Tamils would leave the ethnic conflict unresolved. The United Nations Human Rights Council has urged the Sri Lankan government "to combat discrimination against persons belonging to ethnic minorities".
In the United Kingdom, the inquiry about the murder of the black Briton Stephen Lawrence concluded that the investigating police force was institutionally racist. Sir William Macpherson used the term as a description of "the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin", which "can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes, and behaviour, which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping, which disadvantages minority ethnic people". Sir William’s definition is almost identical to Stokely Carmichael’s original definition some forty years earlier. Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton 1967 were black power activists and first used the term 'institutional racism' to describe the consequences of a societal structure that was stratified into a racial hierarchy that resulted in layers of discrimination and inequality for minority ethnic people in housing, income, employment, education and health (Garner 2004:22).
The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report, and the public’s response to it, were among the major factors that forced the Metropolitan Police to address its treatment of ethnic minorities. More recently, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair said that the British news media are institutionally racist, a comment that offended journalists, provoking angry responses from the media, despite the National Black Police Association welcoming Sir Ian’s assessment.
According to the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism, scholars have drawn on a 1979 work by social psychologist Michael Billig - "Psychology, Racism, and Fascism" - that identified links between the Institute of Psychiatry and racist/eugenic theories, notably in regard to race and intelligence, as for example promoted by IOP psychologist Hans Eysenck and in a highly publicised talk in August 1970 at the IOP by American psychologist Arthur Jensen. Billig concluded that "racialist presuppositions" intruded into research at the Institute both unintentionally and intentionally. More recently in 2007, the BBC reported that a "race row" had broken out in the wake of an official inquiry that identified institutional racism in British psychiatry, with psychiatrists, including from the IOP/Maudsley, arguing against the claim, while the heads of the Mental Health Act Commission accused them of misunderstanding the concept of institutional racism and dismissing the legitimate concerns of the Black community in Britain. Campaigns by voluntary groups seek to address the higher rates of sectioning, over-medication, misdiagnosis and forcible restraint on members of minority groups.
In South Africa, during Apartheid, institutional racism has been a powerful means of excluding from resources and power any person not categorized or marked as white. Those marked as black were further discriminated against differentially, with Africans facing more extreme forms of exclusion and exploitation than those marked as coloured or Indian. One such example of institutional racism in South Africa is Natives Land Act, 1913, which reserved 90% of land for white use and the Native Urban Areas Act of 1923 controlled access to urban areas, which suited commercial farmers who were keen to hold labour on their land. Africans, who formed the majority of the population, were relegated to barren rural reserves, which later became homelands.
More modern forms of institutional racism in South Africa are centered around interracial relationships. Opposition to interracial intimate relationships may be indicative of underlying racism, and that conversely acceptance and support of these relationships may be indicative of a stance against racism. Even though the prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act was repealed in 1985, the term "mixed" continued to exists, thus carrying forth the inherent stigmatization of "mixed" relationships and race. Consequently, discourse is a framework that realizes language can produce institutional structures and relations. However, language constitute who we are, interact with others and understand ourselves. So discourse is viewed as inextricable link to power and necessarily more than a medium utilized to transmit information.