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Institutional Racism, Organizations & Public Policy


James D. Ward and Mario A. Rivera

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.
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6 Nonprofits, Community Service Organizations, and Philanthropy


Chapter Six

Nonprofits, Community Service Organizations, and Philanthropy


How do we define nonprofits and community service organizations? They are usually referred to as organizations that use their surplus revenues to enhance or maintain operations rather than as profits or dividends to stakeholders. Such organizations are regarded as 501 (c) groups by the Internal Revenue Service, and, as such, are exempt from taxation laws that govern private–for–profit organizations (Grobman, 2008). In other words, any profit earned by 501 (c) organizations must be applied toward achieving the organization’s goals and objectives, which are usually service–oriented (IRS, 2010). Such organizations depend, to a large extent, on philanthropy or charitable giving, to sustain their operations.

Because the types of nonprofit (501c) organizations vary widely, our focus will be on community and social service organizations. Studies show that leaders of such organizations have been known to take decisive efforts to institute measures to reduce the presence and impact of institutional racism (Ferguson, 1996; Jones, 2013; NASW, 2007; SHSC, 2005; Ramsey County, 2009 and 2011; Mitchell, 2013). Perhaps it is due to the fact that such organizations provide human services and find it appropriate to respond to community needs with the utmost possible application of social equity. Thus, are community and social service organizations at the forefront in instituting measures and objectives to detect and eliminate institutional racism? That is the question we will address in this chapter.

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