Headline of the Day

I have worked in academic science my entire life and I have never seen any sign of racism, systemic or otherwise. On the contrary, I have seen people go to considerable lengths to aid able minorities.

Yet a petition entitled is circulating nationally complaining that: women and “people of color” are under-represented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math); that this is “systemic racism;” and that the cure is to change science (although it isn’t put quite like that).

If enough signatures can be gathered, the petition is apparently to be published in Science, one of the two leading general-science journals (the other is Nature).

What is Systemic Racism?

Systemic (a.k.a. institutional, structural) racism is a label. It is almost never defined.

Wikipedia says:

The term “institutional racism” was first coined in 1967 by Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton…while individual racism is often identifiable because of its overt nature, institutional racism…“originates in the operation of established and respected forces in the society, and thus receives far less public condemnation than [individual racism].”

So how is systemic racism measured? We can get a hint from the British Macpherson Report, produced by an official commission in 1999 as a reaction to the racially motivated death of a young black boy. The report is clear about individual racism, which “consists of conduct or words or practices which disadvantage or advantage people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin.”

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