Institutional Racism, Organizations & Public Policy

by James D. Ward (Author) Mario A. Rivera (Author)
©2014 Monographs X, 160 Pages


Institutional racism may be described as a self-perpetuating and opaque process where, either intentionally or unintentionally, barriers and procedures which disadvantage ethnic minority groups are supported and maintained. It is often the direct linkage and thus the underlying cause for the lack of diversity and cultural competency in the workplace. Yet institutional racism, as a research topic, has been ignored by scholars because it forces emphasis on the unseen and unspoken, yet culturally relevant underpinnings of the workplace and societal ethos. Studies touching on diversity in the public administration research often address the subject as education and training – especially with regard to the competencies needed by professional administrators. However, racism and discrimination, as underlying factors, are seldom addressed. Once specific examples of institutional racism have been identified in an organization, change agents may take prescriptive steps to address it directly and thus have a more cogent argument for change.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Authors
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Dedication
  • Contents
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1 Introduction: Institutional Racism and Its Multiple Dimensions
  • 2 The Legacy of Race and Public Policy in Contemporary America
  • Introduction
  • Government Policies and the Promotion of Inequality (1876 to 1968)
  • Government Immigration Laws and Inequality
  • Racial Covenants, Redlining, and Public Housing
  • Institutional Racism, Government Action, and the Struggle for Equality
  • Legacy of Jim Crow in the Twenty–First Century
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • 3 Institutional Racism and the Management of Government Organizations and Policies: A Critical Examination of HAMP
  • Institutionalized Racial Discrimination in Mortgage Lending
  • Home Affordable Modification Program
  • Methodology
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • 4 Religious Institutions, Race, and Belief Systems
  • Introduction
  • Racism and the Struggle for Reconciliation: Southern Baptists and Mormons
  • The Nation of Islam and Black Separatist Theology
  • Latinos and Religious Institutionalism
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • 5 Institutions of Higher Learning and the Promise of Diversity: An Ethics Dialogue for Public Affairs Education and Diversity/Cultural Competency Training
  • Introduction
  • Diversity and Cultural Competency Education
  • Cultural, Multi–cultural, and Diversity Competencies
  • Identity and Identification
  • Identity, Diversity, and Plurality
  • Dynamics of Difference in the Classroom
  • A Common Model—Dialogue and Critical Mass
  • Critical Mass
  • The Role of the Instructor in Establishing Ethical Dialogue
  • Metacompetence
  • Note
  • References
  • 6 Nonprofits, Community Service Organizations, and Philanthropy
  • Introduction
  • Best Practices and Literature Review
  • Survey of Nonprofit Organization Leaders in Greater Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • 7 Racial Profiling and Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Introduction
  • History of Racial Profiling in American Law Enforcement
  • Who Are the Victims of Racial Profiling?
  • Racial Profiling and Political Violence
  • Public Policy and Political Initiatives
  • Immigration and Other Initiatives That Extend Racial Profiling
  • Community Policing as an Alternative to Racial Profiling
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • 8 Employment Equity and Institutional Racism: Diversity Advocacy in American Public Administration Education and Practice
  • Introduction: Institutional Racism and Its Instantiation in Public Administration
  • Defining and Probing Terms of Reference
  • Social Capital and Employment Outcomes in Networks
  • Critical Prospects: Equity and Diversity
  • Revisiting Diversity Best (and Worst) Practices and Scholarship Diversity
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • 9 Transformative Leadership and Remedial Action: Prospects for a Public Ethics Focused on Claims to Equity
  • Introduction: Pluralist Liberal Ethics in the United States and the Challenge of Social Equity
  • Moral Agency and Institutional Context
  • Plural Normative Sources in Social Equity Discourse
  • Organizational Norms and Individual Moral Decisions
  • Conclusion: Transformational Leadership
  • References
  • 10 Conclusion: Reflection on Strategies and Accomplishments
  • References
  • Appendix A
  • Appendix B
  • Index



3.1Ineligible Borrower—DTI < 31%

3.2Request Incomplete

3.3Statistically Significant Regional Findings for Denial Reason 2: Ineligible Borrower—Current DTI Less than 31%

3.4Statistically Significant Regional Findings for Denial Reason 13: Request Incomplete

3.5Incidence of Unreported Race and Ethnicity Data by Region

4.1Resolution on Ku Klux Klan

4.2Highlights from the Resolution on Racial Reconciliation

6.1Ramsey County’s Community Human Services Anti–Racism Initiative—Accomplishments and Lessons Learned

6.2Nonprofit Leadership and Client Distribution in Raw Numbers

7.1Where Is Racial Profiling Banned?

7.2National Estimate of Racial Profiling Victims (U.S.) ← ix | x →← x | xi →


Our grateful thanks go to the editors, copy writing and production professionals, and others at Peter Lang for their invaluable assistance in making this book project possible. Our appreciation is most especially extended to the Series Editor, Black Studies and Critical Thinking, at Peter Lang Publishing.

Author order in this fully coauthored text acknowledges Professor Ward’s role in conceiving of, initiating, and leading completion of the book project.

James D. Ward and Mario A. Rivera ← xi | xii →← xii | 1 →

Chapter One

Introduction: Institutional Racism and Its Multiple Dimensions

What makes this book unique, from our perspective, is that it addresses the phenomenon of institutional racism in the public sector, in relation to the allied academic and professional fields of public administration, public policy, and political science, a topic which in our view has received scant research focus across these disciplines. On the other hand, we do recognize the work done in other social and behavioral science research, including disciplinary subfields such as social work and community psychology, sociology, social psychology, social cognitive theory, public management theory, critical leadership studies, critical race theory, and ethics (public ethics, in particular).

We are especially cognizant of research efforts in public administration, public policy, and political science that attempt to explain or predict the influence of race on political performance and behavior, to consider the role of diversity advocacy (such as affirmative action) in public sector employment, and to explore contemporary issues of diversity and cultural competence. Such work often approaches the issues of race and diversity as tangible entities that are readily available for empirical analysis. In our own research, however, institutional racism is defined as a complex of embedded, systemic practices that disadvantage racial and ethnic minority groups, and, in consequence, needs to be assessed indirectly as well—for instance, in analyses of historically patterned discrimination and of the unintended, but still discernible, adverse impact of public policies and programs.

Studies touching on diversity in the public administration literature often address the subject as a matter of education and training—especially with regard to the competencies needed by professional administrators. However, racism and discrimination, as underlying determinative factors, are seldom addressed, at least not in a sustained and probing way. We contend that discussions of institutional racism are most relevant today, when emphasis on diversity and cultural competency is becoming more salient in both research and practice. Institutional racism is often found in the interstices of avowed commitments to diversity and regressive practices that too often prevail in public organizations in particular. Institutional racism would then ← 1 | 2 → account for the lack of salutary diversity and equity outcomes in public sector organizations.

Notwithstanding its importance, institutional racism has been largely ignored by public policy and administration scholars. This may be because the concept forces investigative emphasis on hidden factors that are as difficult to define operationally in research as they are painful to recognize in practice.

In sum, in this text we attempt to fill these gaps by considering a number of dimensions of systemic, institutional racism, including the following:

1.‘Cognitive complexity,’ ‘intersectionality,’ and the social relations of race, constructs from psychology and social psychology. These distinctive features of our central topic point to its cognitive dimensionality, considering the argument that integrative complexity is a hallmark of real diversity and cultural competency. Integrative, cognitive complexity is a construct from psychology and social psychology, referencing dispositions toward others that combine elements of cosmopolitanism (in the ethical sense, an openness to different cultures and ways of life with a kind of humility before others, sometimes called ‘cultural humility’). We also consider the psychological impact of racism in complex contexts, for instance at the intersection of race and gender, using intersectionality analysis as a fulcrum. We are therefore interested in exploring relational aspects of race and ethnicity, inasmuch as these impact the lived experience of men and women of color, for instance in the professions—including the academic professions.

2.The legal and political lineaments of institutional racism, including trends toward retrenchment on affirmative action, equal employment opportunity, social policy and provision for human services, and even (most recently) voting and other fundamental rights.

3.The sociocultural ascription of meaning, which too often translates into the devaluation of subordinate ways of life. What is operative here is the ascription of disparate social outcomes to the cultural norms, traditions, values, and behaviors of racial and ethnic minorities, an ethnocentric exercise that masks the interest–driven quality of institutional racism. Culture is about the way a group decides what does and does not matter, but since racial and ethnic groups experience large power differences, cultural expression often translates into denigration of other races and life ways. We examine how jaundiced cultural outlooks impact people of color, in various ← 2 | 3 → domains that include institutions of higher learning, religious organizations, and government programs.

4.Institutional/organizational factors that exclude people of color—for instance, in the insularity of professional recruitment and hiring networks. Here the focus is on those long–set organizational mores and practices that systematically disadvantage people of color. In this connection, we also consider best practices in various professional fields, including that of social work, which demonstrate that organizational energies can be harnessed to progressive, rather than reactionary, ends.

5.‘Hysteresis,’ or socioeconomic historicity, a construct from institutional economics that points to the entrenchment of privilege in the historic accretion of self–serving policies and practices.

6.And implications for professional and public ethics. We consider ethical dimensions of racism at various levels of analysis, from public ethics to the situated ethics of a hypothetical encounter (in Chapter Nine) between a public servant and an aggrieved individual making a claim to equity.


X, 160
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2013 (December)
diversity societal ethos cultural competency
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 160 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

James D. Ward (Author) Mario A. Rivera (Author)

James D. Ward is Professor of Political Science at Mississippi University for Women. He received his Master of Public Affairs and his PhD in political science from the University of Cincinnati. He has published extensively on social justice issues in relation to law enforcement racial profiling, local government reforms and service delivery, and fiscal management. Prior to entering academia, he worked as a newspaper and television reporter. Mario A. Rivera is Regents’ Professor of Public Administration at the University of New Mexico. Since his masters and doctoral studies in theology and political science at the University of Notre Dame, he has published extensively on the ethics of race and diversity and on issues of social equity, in contexts of international development, policy innovation and program evaluation.


Title: Institutional Racism, Organizations & Public Policy