Discussion of institutionalized racism 5 pages

Institutional Racism


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While it is almost established that the discussions on race in the contemporary United States center around a dominant ideological framework of the notion of color blindness, it is in the consciousness of Americans that racial inequality is better understood as being derived from the individual, or the cultural traits, and not based on systemic racism. The concept that describes racial attitudes that are held by a section of white Americans in the contemporary times is helped understood by colorblind racism which has been developed in the recent years (Burke, 2016).

Another interesting factor that these researchers found was that the level of awareness about racism and color blind racism and inequality was more prevalent among the white Americans when compared to what the existing theories might suggest (Manning, Hartmann, & Gerteis, 2015). Many individuals, such as myself, often feel that minorities are more likely to be associated with certain issues, such as being involved the sale and/or use of drugs. This study will therefore examine racism and its relationship to addiction, as well as other aspects of discriminatory practices, that have been established through peer reviewed articles and research works that have been published in recent years.

This paper discusses the relationship between racism and the prevalence of drug abuse and addiction in the U.S. When an individual injects or intakes a substance like alcohol, cocaine or nicotine and fins the engagement pleasurable but which can have health implications and prevent the conduct of regular course of life for the individual with continued use, it is termed as addiction (Beckett, 2012). While the term addiction is used in several ways, research and literature has linked the use of addictive drugs to racism color blind racism in the U.S. This becomes obvious when researchers find that law enforcement agencies tend to put more focus in dug control in localities with a dominant black population or a minority population (Bucerius, 2015).

In her article “Race, Drugs, and Law Enforcement in the United States,” J. Fellner, (2009) writes that anti-drug efforts are more focused to keep the black population away from drugs and such efforts leave the white population relatively untouched. While these efforts are intended for the betterment of the minority population, its emphasis on the black population itself is a silent way of practicing color blind racism (Fellner, 2009). The study will also try and establish my belief that perhaps certain minority groups are more at a disadvantage to becoming addicted to drugs/alcohol and it is also necessary to consider many of the indirect factors related to the increases in addiction rates such as lower socioeconomic status, relatively less employment opportunities, and other factors that are commonly associated with drug addiction.

Background Research

The notion that in the United States there is seemingly no racism, particularly based on color, has been negated by many researchers throughout the years. Recent studies and surveys have found many results to the contrary. The idea that racism is present in many sections of American society has been established through several research studies such as the one published by OiYan Poon, Dian Squire, Corinne Kodama and Ajani Byrd (2015), where they reviewed 112 works conducted on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in respect to higher education. The study’s findings indicated that there were limitations in the anti-racist framework which designated a certain degree of White domination in the higher education sector (Poon et al., 2015). Many have also argued that there should be no discrimination on the basis of race for any individual from any minority community, and it should not affect the selection of that individual, is supported by another work by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva of Duke University who argues: “the ‘new racism,’ or the set of mostly subtle, institutional, and seemingly nonracial mechanisms and practices that comprise the racial regime of “post-racial” America, has all but replaced the old Jim Crow order” (Bonilla-Silva, 2015). He further contends that the concept of color-blind racism is “slippery and has a ‘beyond race’ character” (Bonilla-Silva, 2015). He concludes that the new and the more so-called ‘civil’ manner of maintaining racial justice is, in fact, a “more formidable way of maintaining racial domination” (Bonilla-Silva, 2015). Furthermore, meta-analytic findings in previous research studies, clearly point to the fact that the attempt in recent years by many institutions, including many efforts on a more individual level to be more ‘civil’ and to do away with racial discrimination, has in fact not succeeded at large (Miller & Garran, 2008).

One of the major causes or contributing factors to this is the inherent human desire to be dominant and hold supremacy over “the other” and the underlying notion among a section of White Americans to maintain the status quo with regards to racism (Feagin, 2000). Researchers Dovidio, Gaertner, and Saguy (2015) claim that institutionalized practices of color blindness perpetuate the disadvantages for the Black Americans and the researchers have found that “racial biases unconsciously and uncontrollably strategically shape the behavior of White Americans, even among seemingly well-meaning people” (Dovidio, Gaertner, & Saguy, 2015). Furthermore, prejudiced treatment of minority groups can also directly and indirectly create the channels which lead to drug use, which in turn only strengthens the racial biases that are already present.


The issue of not according an importance to race for any individual, so that it can affect him/her directly, is related to the issue of color-blind racism in the manner that even though, I being a White American, do not believe in racism and imparting disadvantage to another individual on the basis of race or color. However, I am sometimes driven by natural instincts and often miss some forms of racism that are institutionalized and that can be very subtle and subdued, and thus, engage in racism unknowingly. In this respect, all the above-mentioned facts derived from previous research act as a testimony to highlight the central point of my argument to attest to the issue of color-blind racism and its undeniable existence in the American society and even in its most liberal institutions. The relationship is further accentuated from the empirical evidence that is presented by the recent studies on the subject and should compel one to closely examine one’s own attitudes and preconceptions that can manifest in various circumstances that relate to color blind racism.


The issue of me not believing in racism in any form and believing that no individual should be put at a disadvantage has been shaken to an extent by this research. The concept and the ideas of color-blind racism suggests that White Americans do engage in racism even though it might not seem to be case to many individuals, like me, which has made me rethink and reassess my actions and reactions in certain situations, especially when dealing with a Black American or an individual or any other group from the minority communities. The study has forced me to consider my actions with greater criticality and evaluate them in terms of the facts that have come forward from the findings of color blind racism and drug addiction. The experiences I’ve had during this study have led me to face my own potential biases and try and find out ways by which I can truly engage in non-racist actions and beliefs in the truest sense of the term.


My present “comfort zone’ represented the belief that I was not a racist person and that I do not believe that any person should be put at a disadvantage due to his/her race or minority status. However,, the facts that have cropped up during the course of this study have triggered a need for reevaluation of my own actions and have forced me to think outside of my comfort zone. I’ve also always felt that minorities are more prone to do drugs and be addicts, however the research does necessarily support this position, despite the overrepresentation of minorities and drugs that are commonly presented in the media. In fact, some research suggests that white people are actually more likely to become addicted to certain drugs; especially prescription opioid drug abuse which has increasingly become an epidemic (Newcomb & Birkett, 2014).


There are many things that I have learned during this analysis of color-blind racism. The first realization is that racism exists in the American society and in American institutions. The study has also made me realize that I may also be engaging in racism, or similar acts, which could be explained by the concept of color-blind racism. Finally, I have also realized that I, and people like me, who truly believe that they do not support any form of racism, need to further question themselves to absolutely sure that they do not engage in racism in any form by incorporating many of the potential solutions recommended by the studies on color blind racism. For example, while I previously believed that people should have the same opportunities, I still felt strongly about the relationship between many minorities and drug addiction and other related biases that in the end, are simply not true.


Bonilla-Silva, E. (2003). Racism without racists. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.

Bonilla-Silva, E. (2015). The Structure of Racism in Color-Blind, “Post-Racial” America. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(11), 1358-1376. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0002764215586826

Burke, M. (2016). New Frontiers in the Study of Color-Blind Racism: A Materialist Approach. Social Currents, 3(2), 103-109. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2329496516636401

Dovidio, J., Gaertner, S., & Saguy, T. (2015). Color-Blindness and Commonality: Included but Invisible?. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(11), 1518-1538. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0002764215580591

Feagin, J. (2000). Racist America. New York: Routledge.

Manning, A., Hartmann, D., & Gerteis, J. (2015). Colorblindness in Black and White: An Analysis of Core Tenets, Configurations, and Complexities. Sociology Of Race And Ethnicity, 1(4), 532-546. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2332649215584828

Miller, J. & Garran, A. (2008). Racism in the United States. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Newcomb, M. E., Birkett, M., Corliss, H. L., & Mustanski, B. (2014). Sexual orientation, gender, and racial differences in illicit drug use in a sample of U.S. high school students. American journal of public health, 104(2), 304-310.

Poon, O., Squire, D., Kodama, C., Byrd, A., Chan, J., & Manzano, L. et al. (2015). A Critical Review of the Model Minority Myth in Selected Literature on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in Higher Education. Review Of Educational Research, 86(2), 469-502. http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/0034654315612205

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