Institutionalized discrimination

Institutionalized discrimination

Institutionalized discrimination refers to the unfair, indirect treatment of an individual embedded in the operating procedures, policies, laws, or objectives of large organizations such as the governments and corporations, financial institutions (banks, investment firms, money markets), public institutions (schools, police forces, healthcare centers), and other larger entities. Usually the bias targets specific, facile attributes including race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, and age. Though direct discrimination is legally iniquitous by United States law, many people believe that it exists in some of the social institutions and practices carried out everyday. Because of institutionalized discrimination, meritocracy cannot be realized.


Examples of institutionalized discrimination include laws and decisions that reflect racism, such as the Plessy vs. Ferguson US Supreme Court case, which ruled in favor of separate but equal public facilities between African Americans and non-African Americans. This ruling was struck down by the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Institutionalized discrimination often exists within the government, though it can also occur in any other type of social institution including religion, education and marriage. Achievement gaps in education "per se" are an example of institutionalized discrimination. Two recent studies aimed to explain the complications of assessing educational progress within the United States. While one study focused on high school graduation rates, the other compared dropout rates in suburban and urban schools. By taking a closer look at statistics of test scores and academic achievement, it can be noticed that wealthy whites do better than blacks, poor whites and Latinos. According to Star Parker, reporter of the "Durham Herald Sun", graduation rates among whites and Asians are about 25 percent higher than those of minority groups (blacks, Hispanics, American Indians). This signifies that academic achievement is linked to socioeconomic status. cite|author= Parker, Star|title=Profiles in Education|publisher=Durham Herald |date=2008-04-15]

International examples

The United States is in no way the only country in which institutionalized discrimination takes place. Other countries like Saudi Arabia have institutionalized discrimination where women and other oppressed people cannot participate in some religious activities and the government. In the UK, a member of a trade union making a complaint of workplace harassment against a fellow employee and member of the same union is not entitled to union advice and assistance, irrespective of the merit of the case, because the employee complained against could lose his/her job. In the [ Weaver v NATFHE (now part of UCU)] race discrimination case, the Tribunal decided that the union's principal obligation in race harassment cases is to protect the tenure of the accused employee. The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the decision and extended the decision to cover complaints of sexist harassment. Also known as the Bournville College Racial Harassment Issue.

pillover Effects

Institutionalized discrimination also exists in institutions aside from the government such as religion, education and marriage among many other. Routines that encourage the selection over one individual over another such as hiring only people you know for a job or making selections based on seniority are both examples of institutionalized discrimination. This phenomenon occurs unintentionally at times. In the article “Discrimination and Affirmative Action”, Dr. Jan Garrett gives the example of a boss who requests his employees to recommend any individuals who are qualified for a job in the corporation. The employees will probably automatically think of someone close to them, often of the same race and ethnic group and gender. A hiring decision such as this has the potential to perpetuate racial and gender inequality in the workplace. Because the employees and the employer probably do not even consider race or gender being an issue in hiring, their discrimination is unintentional. cite web |author=Garrett, Jan|title=Discrimination and Affirmative Action|publisher=Western Kentucky University |date=2008-04-23 |accessdate=2008-04-15 |url=]

Thomas Shapiro’s "The Hidden Cost of Being African American" addresses many of the problems faced by African Americans in the United States and how their current social and economic situations compare to one another. These issues include the racial wealth gap between blacks and whites, assets and education. One chapter spends a significant amount of discussion focusing on why people choose to live where they live. Sociologist James Jasper argues Americans tend to identify with those about is in status because that is how we want to see ourselves, and that moving to a different, better neighborhood is linked to status. Where one lives also depends on where their children attend school. About 50 percent of educational funding comes from property taxes. Problems arise when individuals are not able to achieve the “American Dream” because they run into institutional barriers in which they cannot control. A major barrier in social equality for the United States is residential segregation. Housing in the United States is valued differently based on the racial makeup of the neighborhood. There can be two identical houses in terms of amenities and size but the value of each house depends on the racial makeup of the people within the community. Once about 20 percent of the homeowners in a neighborhood are black, in two years, the entire neighborhoods will be black. This phenomenon occurs because of tactics like blockbusting, a method where real estate agents survey white homeowners in an area. After persuading them that the neighborhood is about to be infiltrated by a minority community the homeowners will leave the area. This is called white flight. Institutionalized discrimination exist within the actual housing system including redlining and mortgage discrimination.cite|author= Shapiro, Thomas|title="The Hidden Cost of Being African American" |publisher=Oxford University Press|date=2004]


Some cities and towns are taking matters into their own hands to address the issue of institutionalized discrimination. The Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities has developed a plan to fight institutionalized discrimination in the Mebane, North Carolina area, and included minorities in local planning that have historically been excluded rendering them insufficient police and fire protection. There land values are lower than others leading to zoning for schools and other related issues. Since community boundaries are not visible, a mapping process from the Geographical Information System (GIS) divides it. It combines several types of information into a single picture. The base map is physical features (roads, city limits, county boundaries) onto which other variables (e.g. race, income, water service, etc.). If needed, the processing system can also show other types of economic variables to draw conclusions about the area. Once the individuals begin to understand this information and realize what is happening to them, they have the power to hold the government accountable and can fight back against the institutionalized discrimination. cite web |author= Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities |title=Fighting Institutionalized Discrimination and Exclusion of Minorities |accessdate=2008-04-15


ee also

* Discrimination
* Racism
* Sexism
* Harassment
* Achievement gap
* Residential segregation
* Zoning
* Affirmative Action

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