Structural racism is different from the simple manifestation and practice of racism since structural racism is embedded deep in the roots of the society and is reinforced through the structure and institutions of the US society. This kind of racism is deceptive in its form and poisonous in its nature as it seeps through society and culture and runs deep in history enforcing and reinforcing its pattern of discrimination in an institutionalized manner. What is ironic about this kind of racism is that it covers itself with a deceptive façade of normality and legitimacy thus, making it hard to contain its influence and predominance.
Structural Racism in the U.S. is the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. It is a system of hierarchy and inequity, primarily characterized by white supremacy – the preferential treatment, privilege and power for white people at the expense of Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Arab and other racially oppressed people (Lawrence and Keleher).
A common counterargument is that the chapter of racism has long been closed and there are no legal or social bases to accept that any form of racial differentiation is present in today’s US society since the country has a black president representing the notion of equality of opportunities for all. My argument is that even when the most powerful country on the face of the planet has a black president as the head of the state, who belongs to a marginalized ethnic group that has been for centuries remained the victim of racism, the structural racism embedded in the very roots and foundations of United States is not affected or weakened by it at all. Rather the patterns of structural racism are reinforced and institutionalized in such a manner that they are no longer in a danger of being questioned or targeted for reformation and the presence of a black president makes no difference whatsoever.
Structural racism indicates towards the notion of deliberate recreation and reinforcement of institutional racial discrimination in order to benefit one social group over the other. Structural racism is not just a mere coincidental or innocent projection of history rather it is a deliberate attempt for the continuation of the trend of the history, the status-quo arrangement suited to the beneficiary party. Even if slavery and racial segregation was prevalent and legal in US history than this still does not suggest that the pattern of racism is a simple manifestation of history and not a deliberate attempt at all since not taking a decision for an issue is a decision itself and in many cases, the ignorance of white majority became a major reason of marginalization of blacks. Moreover, there were deliberate attempts being made and forces present behind the very manifestation and preservation of structural racism in United States for various purposes of social, economic and political in nature. The racial differentiation that has been created, and is constantly being re-created in US is to serve these social, political and economic motivations. These socio-economic and political benefits and advantages benefitting the dominance, supremacy and overall position of whites motivate them to shape the institutional structure in a manner that continue to manifest unequal social relationships on the basis of race. These unequal structures are maintained through social, legal and political controls ranging from slavery to Jim Crow laws to ghettoization to uses of ‘law and order’ and the criminal justice system, restrictive immigration policies, and so on. Racism and racial discrimination has remained a prominent feature of American life since its origins in the seventeenth century (Marable). From making of constitution to the legalization of slavery, from Jim Crow laws to ‘racial profiling’ of colored people in the name of anti-terrorism and so on, we find a pattern of legalization of social differences and thus perseverance of racism in US. Through a historical analysis we see that America do somehow get a chance for the preservation and growth of racial divide and the trend has just taken a different style in modern times. While laws have evolved over time, with revamping of constitution, abolition of slavery laws and Jim Crow laws etc and with the judicial system playing a historical role in improving the structure and patterns of racism in US, however new forms of racial discrimination exists and prevails in contemporary US. From immigration laws to under-paid workers of colored origins, immigrants and so on, the evidence for the structure and scope of racial differentiation in US is unlimited even though continued struggles and movements both social and political have spread over the course of US history. If and when compared with a century ago, the situation of black Americans today is obviously much improved and there is no arguing there. My argument is not to establish the fact that the situation of African Americans is worse than 100 years ago when they were considered nothing more than low-lives and slaves, no, my argument is to justify the stance of structural racism in contemporary US by highlighting the factors, which are not just a hindrance in making US a race-free society but are the very reasons for the creation, recreation and reinforcement of racism in a more institutionalized manner than ever. Thus, the very structure and institutional make up of United States allows for creation and constant recreation of racism in its society. It is thus important to note that what remains at the heart of the problem is the fact that the belief system and, “the deep structure of white prejudice, power and privilege” (Marable 1) which forms biased and prejudiced social relations of most human interactions has not fundamentally been altered in US.