When I first heard the term structural racism, I was confused as to the meaning of these words. I had experienced individual racism and heard the hurtful names and phrases we as Black people, as well as others, have been consistently called. I have also viewed many videos and pictures of scenes depicting slavery, lynchings, fire hoses used against human beings, lunch counter attacks on college students, and kkk rallies with vile and bigoted language. These actions plus the position of power of the people who exhibited these behaviors = Racism. I thought these actions were deflating for communities who suffered from them. Little did I know that Structural Racism has more of an impact than these heinous and disgusting acts.
Structural Racism is the creation and implementation of public policies, institutional practices, and negative cultural narratives that perpetuate racial inequities and constrains mobility, flexibility and attainment for Black, Latino, Asian and Native communities. Structural Racism is designed to create structural barriers that create Race based disparities in healthcare, education, economic development, employment, family income and wealth and housing. (Urban Institute – Structural Racism in America)
The impact of Structural Racism is reflected in the clear disparities that exist in Minnesota and continue to cast a dark shadow over the state’s economy and well being outcomes for Minnesotans. While we seek to create a more equitable, diverse and inclusive state, we must acknowledge that the impact of Structural Racism is not only realized in the policies that led to the Black Codes, Jim Crow and Racially Restrictive Housing Covenants, it is also prevalent in current policies that guide hiring practices, philanthropy models of investment, board of directors selection processes and leadership development and succession planning in nonprofit and for profit institutions. Just to name a few. If Equity, Diversity and Inclusion are to be visualized, implemented, and practiced, we must examine how structural racism is exhibited and how we must change our system behaviors to impact this work.
Think About and Be About It – #EquityActions
Over the next few blog posts, I will address some of the systematic barriers created by structural racism. These systemic barriers must be addressed through sustainable equity actions and designed and communicated through collaborative partnerships that build trust in communities impacted daily by these equity actions.
Equity actions will not require another disparity study. Equity actions will not require a new review of disaggregated racial data. Equity actions will not require another leadership cohort group to study racial inequity, read another book on racial justice, nor have a conversation on race. Equity actions will not lament the educational, health, employment and economic disparities in Minnesota, nor will Equity actions wait for the next national ranking to tell us (what what we already know) how bad Minnesota ranks for Black, Asian, Latino and Native people.
#EquityActions will provide recommended actions to:
Build Community Trust and Positive Relationships with communities of color, LGBTQ communities, disability communities, veteran communities and other diverse communities
Remove HR Policy and Procedure Barriers to Recruitment and Retention
Increase Equitable Access to Business Opportunities
Increase awareness and leadership competencies for inclusion and equity
“As I grow older I pay less attention to what [people] say. I just watch what they do.”
#EquityActions – the time is right to start doing something and creating sustainable actions to make Minnesota great and equitable for all Minnesotans.