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Racial Equity Knowledge Center

Raising awareness about funding for racial equity efforts.

Why do racial disparities in wealth, income, health, education, and in myriad other measures of social welfare, persist in the United States, despite the fact that segregated schools and racial discrimination in employment, housing, government programs, and public accommodation were outlawed many years ago? Why do large numbers of people of color still live in hyper-segregated communities despite fair housing laws? Why do these patterns persist even though most people state that they do not hold racist views?


Structural racialization is a theory that helps us to understand these phenomena.  Structural racialization posits that these conditions perpetuate themselves, and that they do so, not as the result of present racist intent, but rather as the result of the cumulative impact of systems and structures that have been in place for many years. Professor John Powell, Director of the Ha as Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of the foremost writers on structural racialization. He explains that the term "racialization" is chosen over the term "racism" because these disparities persist in the absence of overt racism and that they cannot be overcome merely by ensuring that public policies are race - neutral. Powell writes: "the most deleterious racial effects in the US today come from the interactions of institutions and structures along with social bias, rather than from individual prejudicial intent".