If you are anything like me—have a pair of working eyes and ears, and are able to comprehend things past a third-grade educational level—you are aware of the current climate in our country surrounding racism.
Police brutality is on the rise and has been for years now, with the police escalating from unnecessary fatal shootings to the tragedy that was the murder of George Floyd just over a month ago.
But, how many of us know what the term “systemic racism” means?
Now, I am not too proud to admit that, until about a month ago, I didn’t realize what systemic racism was. I am very much aware of racism in our country and, after some research, knew what systemic racism was, but couldn’t quite explain it.
You know who does an amazing job of explaining it? Those Funky Monkey’s over at Ben & Jerry’s.
After way too much espresso one morning at work, I decided to finally google systemic racism and educate myself so as to better help my peers of color struggling, and also help myself sound a little less than half-baked when discussing these issues.
Wouldn’t you know this amazingly progressive company was the first thing to pop up?
Now, what caught my eye initially was, of course, the fact that I was looking at a link to systemic racism from the same company I grew up dripping all over my Sunday’s best. More than perplexed, I opened the link and couldn’t be happier at what I found.
So, if you or anyone you know may need a refresher or a downright lesson on what systemic racism is, let me help by sharing Ben & Jerry’s lovely description (paraphrased of course to keep an air of mystery—you know, in case you find yourself wanting to Google this one morning while overly caffeinated).
Below are some brief descriptions of a couple of the seven ways Ben & Jerry listed they are able to prove systemic racism exists:
Here are some numbers that should help you understand the magnitude of systemic racism regarding the wealth of our country.
White families hold 90 percent of the nation’s wealth; Black families hold 2.6 percent of that wealth. These numbers do not and have not changed during times of economic downturn (like the 2008 recession) and provide a brief insight into how wealth is ruled in this country by Caucasian individuals.
Over the last 60 years, the Black unemployment rate has consistently been twice as high as the white unemployment rate. Also, a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research stated that individuals with white-sounding names are 50 percent more likely to get a call back for a job than those with Black-sounding names—even if the resumés look identical regarding job experience and education.
People! We are literally not offering well-qualified Black individuals a job because their names are somehow not as appealing.
Now, hold on to your bootstraps because you should leave this particular explanation with a sense of slight fear. If not, read again:
More than half of all young Black men know someone who has been harassed by the police. Shocker. Also, Black drivers are 30 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. Lastly, Black individuals are twice as likely to die as a pedestrian walking than their white counterparts.
Why is this? A study done by the Washington Post states that this is because fewer people stop for Black individuals.
Fewer people value the life of a Black American citizen walking in the street than those who are white.
Ben & Jerry’s goes on to state another four reasons systemic racism is alive and well in the United States, but I will leave that for you to investigate and catch up on.
I hope you leave this article saddened, enraged, and impassioned to do your part to not be part of the problem, and be only a part of the solution.
How can we do that?
Spend your money at Black-owned business, infusing their capital system with wealth, and hopefully beginning to curb the huge wealth inequality being faced by Black individuals.
Own a business? Call Jamal and Jamika with the same enthusiasm that you call Walter and Emily. Make sense?
See a young man on the corner, surrounded by more cops than birds in the air? Take the time to stop and watch this person. Watch the police. Survey the situation while safely not involving yourself. Film the situation if it becomes violent or the officers begin using excessive force. That could be your family member or friend just as easily, and you would want someone to have their back in a time when no one else does.
Lastly, educate yourself. Ignorance is not a negative mindset, but ignoring is. If you choose not to learn about the systemic racism faced in our country by Black people, you are ignoring and have successfully become part of the problem.
Black lives matter, systemic racism is real, and Ben & Jerry’s are here to educate us all.