Modern Institutionalized Discrimination in America

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In this paper we will examine how blatant acts of discrimination in America have changed from outright acts of racism and into subtle biases within institutions meant to serve the average citizen to the fullest degree. Modern institutionalized discrimination has allowed for the oppression of minorities to continue even without the implementation of “separate but equal”. For decades, minorities have continue in a cycle of oppression due to the unfairness of the judicial system, education system, and work force.


Discrimination can best be described as “the unequal or unfair treatment of a person or persons based on their group membership” (Healey, 2019). As our society has continued to evolve through the development of the political policies, minorities still face acts of racism within the systems they interact with on a daily basis explained by institutionalized discrimination. Institutionalized discrimination is, “ a pattern of unequal treatment based on a group membership that is built into the daily operations of society” (Healey, 2019). Although these acts of racism may not be through verbal and physical attacks, they still stand to oppress minorities.

For example, prison and juvenile sentences given to African Americans and Hispanics are often given longer compared to Whites for the same crime. In the juvenile court system, African American children are 18 more likely to be trialed as adults than White children. Consequently, causing detention centers to be made up of 60 percent of African American children. African American males on average spend 20 percent more time in prison than Whites when convicted for the same crime. Also, more likely to receive the death sentence.

In the education system, a population composed of 18 percent of Black students, more than half of all reported suspensions were Black children. On average, African American kids are three times more likely to be suspended than White children. Often with staff who do not act without prejudice, those employed in the education system are more prone to refer Black and Hispanic children to local police officers. Thus, making them more susceptible to entering juvenile system and continuing the cycle of oppression. (Nesbit, 2015).

Within the work force, employers often play into prejudice and acts of racism when considering new applicants. In a study conducted by Devah Pager, different participants applied for the same job with the same qualifications in terms of education and experience. The study was composed of half Black and half White men with one participant from each group stating a criminal record on their application. Devah Pager found that in a study of more than 300 participants, employers were more likely to call back a White man with a criminal record rather than a Black man with no record. Making race more important in the hiring process rather than a criminal record. This act of institutionalized discrimination limits the opportunities that should be given to minorities at the same rate as Whites.


Institutionalized discrimination is hard to overcome without the creation of policies that would benefit and uplift minorities. Even as “separate but equal” was eradicated, modern society has conformed into another way of discriminating minorities. Discrimination at the institutional level has a greater impact on how families across different races live in this society. It singlehandedly forces them to live in poverty and in a continuous cycle of inequality and oppression with the exception of the model minority.(Pages, 2015).

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Modern Institutionalized Discrimination In America. (2021, Jul 08). Retrieved May 21, 2024 , from

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