Structural racism is present in pretty much every institution because of unconscious biases. (I'm sorry I know that's still complex but there really isn’t a simple answer to this one!)
Reni Eddo Lodge’s book ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ has a great section on structural racism in the UK which follows how it works throughout a black boy’s life using empirical evidence (there is little evidence on girls). I wouldn’t usually use quite so much of someone else’s work but it is so well researched and comprehensive I feel like I have to. Here are a few of the findings she quotes:
“A black schoolboy is around three times more likely to be permanently excluded compared to the whole school population”
“At age eleven, when he is preparing to take his SATs, research indicates that he will be systematically marked down by his own teachers… it will take anonymity to get him the grade he deserves”
“Access to Britain’s prestigious universities is unequal, with black students less likely to be accepted into a high-ranking, research-intensive Russell Group university than their white counterparts”
“Between 2012 and 2013, the highest proportion of UK students to receive the lowest-degree ranking - a third or a pass - was among black students, with the lowest proportion being white students. Given that black kids are more likely than white kids to move into higher education, it’s spurious to suggest that this attainment gap is down to a lack of intelligence, talent or aspiration”
“In 2009, researchers working on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions sent job applications with similar education, skills and work history to a number of prospective employers. The only distinctive differences were names - they either sounded white British, or they didn’t. The researchers found that the applicants with white-sounding names were called to interview far more than those with African- or Asian- sounding names.”
“A 2013 British report revealed that black people are twice as likely to be charged with drugs possession, despite lower rates of drug use… [they are also] five times more likely to be charged rather than cautioned or warned for possession of drugs.”
“The Equalities and Human Rights Commission [commented] ‘...we are concerned that the high proportion of black men recorded on the database (estimated to be at least 1 in 3 black men) is creating an impression that a single race group represents an “alien wedge” of criminality”
“Black people are more at risk than any other ethnic group in England to be sectioned against their will”
“Black people tend to receive higher doses of anti-psychotic medication than white people with similar health problems… Instead of being discharged back into the community they are more likely to remain as long term in-patients”
“As our imaginary black man gets older, he is less likely to receive a diagnosis of dementia than his white counterparts. If he does, he will receive it at a later stage than a white British person." (Getting a diagnosis early is very important in order to receive the right care. See why here).
“Our black man’s life chances are hindered and warped at every stage. There isn’t anything notably, individually racist about the people who work in all of the institutions he interacts with. Some of these people will be black themselves. But it doesn’t really matter what race they are. They are both in and of a society that is structurally racist, and so it isn’t surprising when these unconscious biases seep out into the work they do. With a bias this entrenched, in too many levels of society, our black man can try his hardest, but he is essentially playing a rigged game. He may be told by his parents and peers that if he works hard enough, he can overcome anything. But the evidence shows that this is not true, and that those who do are exceptional to be succeeding in an environment that is set up for them to fail.”
The book really is eye opening and I am so grateful to Reni for writing it. And for giving it a title so controversial that I just had to read it!
To learn more, you can buy the book by clicking the picture* below:
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