The problem with “systemic racism” analysis of this kind is that, while not factually wrong on its face, no context is provided. The assumption is that the present system would be fine if only it were less racist, which has the effect of obscuring and obfuscating critiques of “systemic capitalism” or “systemic statism.” Actually, the current system would still suck out the ass even if it were 100% non-racist. Economic policies that are intended to create more poor people will inevitably produce more poor black and brown people, who will be more likely to form oppositional cultures and come under attack from the state.
State policies that create more criminal laws will inevitably produce more poor black and brown people who run afoul of the law (and more people of all races, classes, and cultures who are attacked by the state as well). Progressives and liberals cannot have their cake and eat it too. They cannot have less systemic racism involving poor minorities and have gun control, drug prohibition, laws against selling loose cigarettes, gambling and prostitution prohibition, stringent regulations of self-employment activities like hair braiding and nail-polishing, truancy laws, a huge range of traffic offenses, housing policies that create homelessness, etc., etc., etc.
By Michael Harriot
It wasn’t Black-on-Black crime. Violent video games and rap songs had nothing to do with it; nor did poverty, education, two-parent homes or the international “bootstraps” shortage. When a judge tasked researchers with explaining why Massachusetts’ Black and Latinx incarceration was so high, a four-year study came up with one conclusion.
It was always racism.
According to 2016 data from the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission, 655 of every 100,000 Black people in Massachusetts are in prison. Meanwhile, the state locks up 82 of its white citizens for every 100,000 who reside in the state. While an eight-to-one racial disparity might seem like a lot for one criminal justice system, nationwide, African Americans are imprisoned at almost six times the rate of white people. So, in 2016, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants asked Harvard researchers to “take a hard look at how we can better fulfill our promise to provide equal justice for every litigant.”