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Institutional Racism, Organizations & Public Policy

Series:

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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10 Conclusion: Reflection on Strategies and Accomplishments

Extract

Chapter Ten

Conclusion: Reflection on Strategies and Accomplishments

The connection between institutional racism, on the one hand, and diversity and cultural competency, on the other, is clearly evident, and it is our hope that this text has marked out some causal connections and possible correctives for those seeking to advance diversity and social equity values. Specific examples of institutional racism have been identified in various organizational types and settings. Some organizations, ranging from social work and law enforcement agencies to religious groups, have taken proactive steps not only in acknowledging the presence of racism and racists in their history and ranks, but also in implementing change mechanisms aimed at overcoming structuralized, institutional bias. Other, programmatic, ventures, such as the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), have failed to either overcome or prevent disparate racial impacts: Disappointment in that program as implemented to date cannot be minimized, nor (as Chapter Three in this text indicates) its disparate impact on blacks in particular, even though this outcome cannot be unambiguously imputed to deliberate bias.

Institutional racism perpetuates both intentional and unintentional practices that disadvantage minority groups. In essence, it voids the most earnest efforts at increasing organizational diversity and equity. Most often, it makes for denials of the very reality of racism, or of a need to respond to others in a racially sensitive and culturally competent manner. However, those organizations that embrace change in this regard, particularly when they have recognized the existence of institutional...

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