Systemic racism

Dear Editor:

A letter to the editor last week claimed that systemic racism “does not exist.” Seriously? In reality, the effects of systemic racism begin at birth and continue throughout life in the United States. An African American baby is more than twice as likely to die in the first year of life than a White baby. Current infant mortality rates per thousand live births are 11.4 for African Americans and 9.4 for Native Americans, compared to just 4.9 for whites. If an African American survives that first year of life, their chance of becoming a college graduate by the time they are in their upper twenties is far less than for Whites. In this age group, 45 percent of Whites are college graduates compared to just 29 percent of African Americans and 21 percent of Hispanic Americans. An important reason for this large gap is that Whites are born into families with, on average, massively more wealth than Blacks, a condition that has been the case ever since slavery. The median net worth of a White family is $171,000, compared to 17,150 for a Black family. This translates into being able to send your children to college if you are White, but often not if you are Black. And that means massive differences by race in lifelong income, further aggravating the wealth differences across generations. This is what is meant by systemic racism.

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This story was posted on July 9, 2020.