It is not as easy as you may think to find a simple definition of the term “systemic racism.” Given that we hear it so often, wielded with such blithe certainty, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the phrase actually, well, means something. But it takes some digging to discover that meaning, if there is any meaning to discover at all.
An article in USA Today, published during the height of the BLM riots last summer, appears intent on answering the question. The headline says: “What is systemic racism? Here’s what it means and how you can help dismantle it.” The piece surveys various “civil rights leaders and advocates,” including the head of the NAACP and the president of the “racial justice” advocacy group Race Forward. Between these authoritative sources, the following definitions of systemic racism are offered:
“The complex interaction of culture, policy and institutions that holds in place the outcomes we see in our lives.”
“Systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantages African Americans.”
“Systemic racism is naming the process of white supremacy.”
To summarize, systems and structures have procedures and policies which interact with cultures and institutions to create outcomes which lead to disadvantages caused by the process of white supremacy. Well, that clears things up.
The ambiguity is the point, of course. If “systemic racism” has no clearly discernible definition, then the definition can be whatever the activist needs it to be in any given moment. “System racism,” like so many other terms these days (see: “gender,” “whiteness,” “privilege,” “human rights,” etc.) means anything, everything, and nothing, all at the same time.
But if you are not satisfied with the fluidity of the term and would like to settle on something more solid, so that you can actually apply it to the real world in a meaningful way, then perhaps this definition from the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Center will suffice: “Systemic racism includes the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups.”
This is still wordier and vaguer than it needs to be, and seems to dissemble a bit with the word “includes,” but it gets us closer to the answer. All we really need is the last part, with a couple of additional qualifiers. Systemic racism, if it means anything, must mean the explicit and purposeful exclusion or promotion of designated racial groups by a powerful institution. That is a coherent and self-contained definition, which may render it useless to the “racial justice” activist but makes it useful to those of us who are actually concerned about finding and exposing true examples of systemic racism in our society.
On that note, here’s one that may be worth our attention. Breitbart reports:
Restaurants and venues owned by white men will be last in line for federal relief under President Joe Biden’s “Restaurants Revitalization Fund” (RRF), prioritizing funds for women and minority groups first.
As part of Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is opening the application process by which owners of restaurants, bars, and other venues can apply for federal relief to help make up for the loss of revenue as a result of economic lockdowns spurred by the Chinese coronavirus crisis.
The plan allows business owners to apply for relief of up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Business owners do not have to repay the funds so long as the money is spent by March 2023.
The relief, though, is being prioritized based on race, gender, and whether or not business owners are considered “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”
We can refer to the Small Business Administration website to confirm Breitbart’s reporting. The website lays out the process and timeline for restaurant owners to apply for relief. The first three weeks are designated the “priority period” where only applications from “priority groups” will be processed and funded. To discover who qualifies as a priority group, we are told to “see below.”
Down below, it clarifies that a “priority group” is “a small business concern that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are: Women, or Veterans, or Socially and economically disadvantaged.”
Who counts as socially and economically disadvantaged? Once again, we are told to see below. Continuing the goose chase, we find this stipulation:
“Socially disadvantaged individuals are those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities.
Economically disadvantaged individuals are those socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities as compared to others in the same business area who are not socially disadvantaged.”
In other words, as long as you’re not a white man who never served in the armed forces, you get to enjoy priority status. White men can go to the back of the line. How is it fair or legal to penalize business owners for their race and sex? And what in God’s name does any of this have to do with COVID? Those are questions you are simply not supposed to ask.
The Small Business Administration is being straightforward in its discrimination against men here, but they’re being a bit more coy about the racial component. It doesn’t explicitly state that white people are excluded. You need to read the subtext, which is written in big, bold, blinking letters, to get that point.
On the other hand, the USDA, handing out its own COVID relief under Biden’s direction, is not in the slightest bit shy about the racial bigotry embedded into the process. As CBS reports:
A group of Midwestern farmers sued the federal government Thursday alleging they can’t participate in a COVID-19 loan forgiveness program because they’re White.
The group of plaintiffs includes farmers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Ohio. According to the lawsuit, the Biden administration’s COVID-19 stimulus plan provides $4 billion to forgive loans for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who are Black, American Indian, Hispanic, Alaskan native, Asian American or Pacific Islander.
White farmers aren’t eligible, amounting to a violation of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, the lawsuit contends.
Again, the agencies website confirms these claims. An article on USDA.gov, titled “FAQs on American Rescue Plan Debt Relief for Socially Disadvantaged Borrowers,” begins:
Earlier this week, we posted important information about the American Rescue Plan debt relief payments for socially disadvantaged producers. The American Rescue Plan includes provisions for USDA to pay up to 120% of loan balances, as of January 1, 2021, for Farm Service Agency (FSA) Direct and Guaranteed Farm Loans and Farm Storage Facility Loans (FSFL). If you are a Black, Native American/Alaskan Native, Asian American or Pacific Islander, or are of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity, with one of the loans listed above, you are eligible for the loan payment.
Whites need not apply.
Of course, the claim that all minority farmers are socially disadvantaged, and that only minority farmers are socially disadvantaged, is absurd on its face. One of the plaintiffs joining the lawsuit is a man named Adam Faust, a disabled cattle farmer with spina bifida who lost one leg to a farming accident and the other leg to diabetes. The Biden Administration offers him no relief at all, on the basis that a legless, disabled, diabetic farmer has no social disadvantages because his skin pigment is slightly lighter than some other farmers. This is out and out racism — systemic racism, to be exact. A powerful institution (namely, the United States Government) is excluding one group based explicitly on their race while elevating other groups based explicitly on their race.
In our country today, there are no policies or laws that expressly and intentionally elevate white people over racial minorities. There isn’t one current example of a law that reserves special privileges only for those who are white. There are plenty of examples of the reverse, and these are just two of the most recent. Systemic racism is indeed a problem in the United States. Just not the sort of systemic racism that the racial justice activists want to talk about.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.