Systemic Racism | Racism. It Stops With Me

Systemic Racism

Systemic racism is when the policies and practices of institutions result in unfair treatment of some groups compared to others. Like everyday racism, systemic racism does not necessarily target a particular person.

With systemic racism, systems of education, government and the media celebrate and reward some cultures over others. It appears in two main ways:

  • Institutional racism:
    This is when racism is established as a normal behaviour within an organisation or society. It often results in discrimination by people who are doing jobs that others have given to them. For example, police are sometimes criticised for racial profiling, and police agencies now make efforts to eliminate institutional racism. 
  • Structural racism:
    This refers to inequalities found in societies that tend to exclude some groups of people. For example, when certain groups are under-represented in fields like the media, the legal profession, or politics, it can lead to inequalities in other areas too.

When applying for a job, names can influence employment opportunities. A 2011 report on a university field experiment found that job candidates were more likely to get an interview when they anglicised their names.

Systemic racism also shows itself in who is disproportionately impacted by our justice system. In Australia, Indigenous people make up 2% of the total population, but 28% of the adult prison population. This is largely a result of racial inequalities that include socio-economic disadvantage and police practices, among other factors.[1]


 [1] AL Booth, A Leigh, E Varganova (2012) Does ethnic discrimination vary across minority groups? Evidence from a field experiment, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics,

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