What is racism in America

"Systematic Racism" in the US: A Look at the Facts

Racism against black people in the United States has many faces. Discrimination based on skin color is often difficult to measure: it can be a crooked look, insults or canceled job interviews. It is different with what politicians in the USA call "systematic racism". Even around 50 years after legal equality, the structural disadvantage of blacks can still be measured in many ways: the lives of blacks are on average shorter, they are poorer and less healthy than white Americans. Data can help increase understanding of the problem of racism. An overview:

Dead in police operations

According to an evaluation by the Washington Post, police officers in the USA have shot around 5,400 people, most of them armed, since 2015. Of these, 45 percent were white, although whites make up around 60 percent of the US population. Blacks, who make up only 13 percent of the population, represented 23 percent of those killed by the police. The statistics of firearm deaths give only a small insight into the actions of the police: In the case of George Floyd, no shot was fired - without the cell phone videos of passers-by, his killing would hardly have been so well known. Government studies show that police officers are more likely to use force against blacks overall.

Harsher penalties for black people

According to many studies, blacks are also more often checked by the police than whites. If convicted later, blacks receive almost 20 percent longer sentences than whites for the same crime, a government report found for 2011-2016. According to the civil rights organization NAACP, African Americans make up around 34 percent of all approximately 2.2 million prison inmates. According to this, five times more Afro-Americans than whites are imprisoned based on their proportion of the population.

One in three black people could end up in jail

In other words, one in three African American men born in 2001 will statistically end up in prison once in their lifetime, but only one in 17 white male Americans, according to the civil rights group Sentencing Project. "African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested, are more likely to be found guilty (...) after arrest, and are more likely to face harsh sentences," the group explains.

Unemployment and income

The unemployment rate for African Americans in the United States is generally significantly higher than that for white Americans. In May the rate for blacks was 16.8 percent and that for whites at 12.4 percent. In addition, studies show that blacks are paid on average only three quarters of what whites earn for comparable work. One in five black people in the US lives below the poverty line of around $ 26,000 for a family of four, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Assets and Home Ownership

Studies have shown that the net worth of the average white family is up to ten times greater than that of a black family. This is also because white families have been able to accumulate and bequeath property for generations. In absolute terms, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) puts it this way: At the end of 2019, whites in the USA controlled assets of a good 95 trillion dollars, blacks almost 5 trillion dollars. The difference in wealth is also reflected in the question of home ownership, which is the norm in the US. Today just under 74 percent of whites in the US own their homes, but only 44 percent of blacks, according to the latest official data from late April.

Education and leadership positions

By the age of 25, 15 percent of blacks and only 8 percent of whites have no high school diploma. Overall, 35 percent of whites have a university degree at that age, but only 21 percent of blacks, according to data from the Department of Education. African Americans are also significantly underrepresented in management positions in large companies. Among the Fortune 500 companies, for example, there are only four black CEOs. It is similar in politics: in President Donald Trump's cabinet, for example, there is only one African American, Housing Minister Ben Carson. In the military, around 40 percent of soldiers are African American, but only two of 41 top generals are black, as reported by the New York Times.

health care

According to experts, health care for African Americans is on average worse than that for whites. This is due to a bundle of factors such as different levels of education, wealth, a lack of trust in white doctors - but also discrimination. A prestigious 2016 study showed that black people who complain of pain get less help. The reason is that many white laypeople, medical students and young doctors "wrongly believed in biological differences between blacks and whites". This perception then leads to inadequate treatment, it said. Only 4 percent of doctors are black, although 13 percent of the US population is black.

Whites live longer

The life expectancy of whites was 78.5 years in 2017, while blacks had 74.9 years, as figures from the CDC show. In the US, for example, 13 white mothers die for every 100,000 births, but more than three times as many black women: 41 deaths per 100,000 births, according to CDC data. An estimated 11.9 percent of the white population have diabetes, and 16.4 percent of the black population are diabetic. According to the CDC, the same applies to the risk factors high blood pressure and obesity.

Health insurance and coronavirus

There is no general government health insurance in the United States. In 2018, around 28 million people had no insurance at all. That was the case for 5.4 percent of white Americans. Among blacks, it was 9.7 percent, according to data from the referendum. Blacks are also particularly affected by the corona virus. It is estimated that a quarter of all corona deaths have so far been black. In the capital Washington, for example, three quarters of all 500 corona deaths were African American. The CDC says the black death rate per 100,000 population is twice that of the white population. “Economic and social framework conditions” are often responsible, explains the authority.