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Basic Concepts

Structural discrimination (or institutional discrimination): conceptual framework to understand racial economic inequality that focuses not on individual prejudice as the root cause of inequality, but that acknowledges that the structural organization of institutions that disadvantages minorities (unintentionally or intentionally)[example: minority children go to inferior, underfunded schools because the public school system mandates that children attend the school in their neighborhood. The persistence of residential segregation ensures that minority children are much more likely to be segregated in lower income neighborhoods and hence, underfunded and lower quality schools.

What is race?: “Race is an unscientific, societally constructed taxonomy that is based on an ideology that views some human population groups as inherently superior to others on the basis of external physical characteristics or geographic origin. The concept of race is socially meaningful, but of limited biological significance.” -D. Williams

Symbolic or modern racism: a belief system regarding blacks in the United States. It contains the four following core beliefs. Racial discrimination is no longer a serious obstacle to blacks’ prospects for a good life. Blacks’ continuing disadvantages are largely due to their unwillingness to work hard enough. Blacks’ continuing demands are unwarranted. Blacks’ increased advantages are also unwarranted. Because symbolic racism develops through socialization without conscious awareness, an individual with symbolic racist beliefs may genuinely oppose racism and believe he is not racist. Symbolic racism is perhaps the most prevalent racial attitude today.


Video explaining racial inequality from perspective of young white woman:

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