What Is Systemic Racism?

This pathway is part of a series on systemic racism that’s a small part of Hive Learning’s Inclusion Works program. Here’s why we encourage you to see this content as a jumping-off point for your learning journey rather than the final word.

We researched and wrote this series to try to make sense of systemic racism, an incredibly broad and complex topic. Our aim was to demystify this type of racism for the everyday person who doesn’t have time to read lots of books on the subject, let alone trawl through hundreds of pieces of academic research to really wrap their arms around it.

We’ve curated 350 sources to give a flavor of how systemic racism emerges through a limited set of areas (housing, education, healthcare, criminal justice, media representation), introducing the barriers and injustices of these institutions using a single example from history and from the present day, and focuses solely on racism directed at Black Americans.

We appreciate that there is much much more to say on this topic and we’d love to do that justice in future content. For now, take a look at the further resources linked to take your next step, start to question how the systems you’re a part of are propping up racism in our society today, and seek out actions you can take to dismantle it.

What is racism? And what is systemic racism?

Racism goes beyond prejudices held by individuals. It's a system of advantage that results in staggeringly disparate outcomes.

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Racism in housing

Systemic racism has created a rigged housing system that’s excluded Black Americans from homeownership, and generational wealth creation.

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Racism in education

Discover how a vicious cycle of systemic factors means Black Americans don’t have access to the same quality of education as white Americans.

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Racism in healthcare

Historical and modern examples of the significant health disparity between Black and white Americans that can’t be explained away by socioeconomic factors.

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Racism in criminal justice

A complex web of institutions stacks the deck against Black Americans, ensuring they’re more likely to be arrested, convicted and face tougher sentences.

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Racism in cultural representation and the media

Black people are often underrepresented and misrepresented on screen. Read on for some examples of how deep the problem runs and its impact.

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The way forward

Might reparations be the answer to making up for the not-so-distant past and radically shifting the systemic repercussions that persist today?

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