Since the murder of George Floyd and the riots that followed, I’ve seen a concerning amount of disinformation on the internet about racism. This has often taken the form of videos or articles that feature well-spoken individuals, many of whom are Black, that argue that some or all aspects of racism are overstated, are myths, or are worsened by talking about racism.
As a researcher (and a as human being), I want to correct this. Decades of systematically collected data point to a clear conclusion: racism is alive and well, and it robs many Black people (and many other people of color in the U.S.) of years of life, physical and mental health, access to opportunities, and a sense of safety and respect. This data cannot be changed by public figures’ comments or by appeals to colorblind logic, however articulate they may be.
See below for links to some peer-reviewed resources that provide more accurate and complete overviews of the data about racism in the U.S.:
1. Comprehensive data on discrepancies between rates of police killings of White, Latino, and Black men in the U.S.: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_VwAw4V59ZRtoSHBnNZU7I33hTHEjMXF/view. Spoiler: in some places Black people aren’t killed by police at higher rates, but they are in many areas. Also keep in mind that this publication doesn’t address the broader issues of harassment and non-fatal police brutality.
2. How systemic racism impacts the socioeconomic status and physical health of people of color in the U.S.: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-soc-073014-112305. Spoiler: racism perpetuates socioeconomic difficulties among people of color, which negatively impacts health. However, racism in and of itself also appears to have a direct negative impact on health for a variety of reasons.
3. The prevalence and impact of daily experiences of racism in the U.S. and what you can do to help: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/9202/8b35b3ce9abb3355ba868234594a2bb3a828.pdf. Partial spoiler: an estimated 75% of Black people in the U.S. report experiencing racist treatment from police officers, employers, healthcare professionals, neighbors, and others. This means that about 25% do not, which explains why there can be videos of Black people saying they’ve never experienced racism.
Another potential resource is https://www.joincampaignzero.org/#research. They have a large, easy-to-read compilation of information about racism and potential solutions. The quality of their research just is not as closely monitored.
If you’re inclined to share material about racism, please learn about racism first from multiple resources that are based on complete, accurate data (see New York University’s “Tips for Evaluating Sources”: https://guides.nyu.edu/c.php?g=276562&p=1844739). I want to emphasize again—the data clearly shows that arguments that racism is not an issue in the U.S. are categorically false. These false claims not only invalidate the lived experiences of Black people and other people of color in the U.S., but they are also lethal: they demotivate anti-racist actions that could prevent deaths caused by racism.