Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Institutional Racism

"The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people."
The Macpherson report

"Institutional racism is that which, covertly or overtly, resides in the policies, procedures, operations and culture of public or private institutions - reinforcing individual prejudices and being reinforced by them in turn."
A. Sivanandan, Director, Institute of Race Relations

"If racist consequences accrue to institutional laws, customs or practices, that institution is racist whether or not the individuals maintaning those practices have racial intentions."
The Commission for Racial Equality
Source – the Guardian

When I hear the term institutional racism I think of the McPherson report, think about the experiences of ‘black people’ in society over the years, but mainly I think about the ways in which it appears to almost absolve individuals ( in a way ) of personal responsibility. A little like the phrase ‘Christ died for our sins perhaps.. or those ‘secret Catholic confession’s, so secret only one other person hears you. ( A secret confession huh.. funny really)
No disrespect to any Catholics.. After all.. confession is good for the soul it's said.

Anyway, if an institution is deemed institutionally racist, will policies alone transform that institution?. Or does real and positive transformation remain with the individuals themselves. We are a policy heavy nation, yet do some policies provide false assurances?. I’m sure not all...some make absolute sense. In fact, many are essential, providing guidelines, and guidance.
Yet it's people who breathe life into institutions, create them, and shape them. People write policies, policies do not write people. Without people, there exists solely ‘bricks and mortar’...an ideology perhaps.
An institution is a thought on a large scale, designed, in some instances, to provide structure to society. (Wanton as we often prove ourselves to be)
It really is a shame if any intuition is given that unfortunate title. However, what’s in a name?.

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