What Makes Systemic Racism Systemic?
In this article, I clarify some components and expand a few underdeveloped ideas of the racialized social system approach to racial stratification. I divide the paper into three parts. In the first section, I explore the limitations of the figure of “the racist.” In the second part, I examine the problem of change. In the third part, which is the core of the paper, I discuss what makes “systemic racism” systemic. My main contention in this article is that the “systemic” in “systemic racism” means that we all participate in the reproduction of the racialized order. Furthermore, this reproduction depends fundamentally on behavior and actions that are normative, habituated, and often unconscious. Hence, systemic racism is the product of the behavior and practices of regular White folks rather than the “racists.” In the conclusion, I discuss the implications of my claims for further theory-building, research, and the struggle for racial justice.
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