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Systemic racism is real. 4 simple facts prove it.

Some simple facts to enlighten your day.

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Open Society Foundations

Systemic racism: What is it?

You've probably heard the term "systemic racism," but what does it really mean?

In this video, Jay Smooth illustrates it with four simple facts that show how one huge discriminatory problem results in keeping a lot of black men from their democratic right to vote.


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Let's examine some statistics about our prison population.

Out of 100,000 Americans, about 700 are incarcerated — that is, in prison or jail.

But out of 100,000 black men, about 4,000 are in jail or prison.

That's more than four times the average.

Pretty shocking, eh?

But y'know what usually happens when you go to prison? You're not allowed to vote.

What he's saying here is this: Many people lose their right to vote by virtue of either being in prison or having their voting rights removed because that's what happens in almost all states* when you're a convicted felon. (*Except Maine and Vermont: Way to go!)

But, because a disproportionate amount of black men get jailed, a disproportionate amount of black men get barred from participating in one of our society's important democratic processes.

This is a big problem. According to The Sentencing Project, 13% of all black men are denied the right to vote.

If you can't vote, you can't participate in our society — and that makes for a systemic problem.

When huge societal organization (such as our prison system) ends up systematically giving disadvantages to a racial group — that's systemic racism.

Former President George W. Bush and current president Donald Trump may both be Republicans but they have contrasting views when it comes to immigration.

Trump has been one of the most anti-immigrant presidents of recent memory. His Administration separated undocumented families at the border, placed bans on travelers from majority-Muslim countries, and he's proudly proclaimed, "Our country is full."

George W. Bush's legacy on immigration is a bit more nuanced. He ended catch-and-release and called for heightened security at the U.S.-Mexico border, but he also championed an immigration bill that created a guest worker program and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people.

Unfortunately, that bill did not pass.

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Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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Roland Pollard and his 4-year-old daughter Jayden have been doing cheer and tumbling stunts together since Jayden could walk. When you see videos of their skills, the level of commitment is apparent—as is the supportive relationship this daddy has with his daughter.

Pollard, a former competitive cheerleader and cheer coach, told In The Know that he didn't expect Jayden to catch on to her flying skills at age 3, but she did. He said he never pressures her to perform stunts and that she enjoys it. And as a viral video of Jayden almost falling during a stunt shows, excelling at a skill requires good teaching—something Pollard appears to have mastered.

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