Defining Racial Justice Terms: Institutional Racism

Defining Racial Justice Terms: Institutional Racism

YWCA Central Carolinas has proudly done Racial Justice & Advocacy work in the Charlotte community for 118 years and counting! With our programs, events, and advocacy there’s a lot of terminology thrown around and we want to make sure that all YWCA supporters know what they mean!

Today’s term is institutional racism. This is the racial inequity within institutions and systems of power, such as places of employment, government agencies, and social services. It can take the form of unfair policies and practices, discriminatory treatment, and inequitable opportunities and outcomes.

Political cartoon from HuffPost’s 10 Signs Of Institutionalized Racism And The Rhetoric Of ‘Greatness’

Whether implicitly or explicitly expressed, institutional racism occurs when a certain group is targeted and discriminated against based upon race inside institutions. Institutional racism is mostly implicit in our ideas and attitudes, so it is often unnoticed by the individual expressing it.

A district that concentrates people of color in the most overcrowded and under-resourced schools with the least qualified teachers compared to the educational opportunities of white students is an example of institutional racism.   

Graphic from YWCA Mankato’s Concepts in Racial Equity

Want to know more examples of institutional racism? Read Mary Frances O’Dowd’s Explainer: what is systemic racism and institutional racism?

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