Systemic Racism 201: The advantages Whites have felt entitled to for generations


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Reggie Jackson details the institution of racial discrimination that White Americans continue to ignore or support. This feature is part of a special series of articles that takes a closer look at the issue of Racism in the United States, understanding what Racism is and its social impact, along with exploring the conditions of Racism in Milwaukee’s culture.

By Reggie Jackson,

“What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life—that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad…This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends; you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” – Morpheus, “The Matrix”

Most conversations about systemic racism center the stories of the harms to people of color while ignoring that White people benefit tremendously from it. This is a tough pill to swallow. Few people are willing to go down the proverbial rabbit hole Morpheus spoke allegorically about in that scene from the Matrix.

It is time we explore systemic racism from that vantage point. Imagine looking at a 1,000-piece puzzle on your table and realizing the box cover is blank. Where do you begin? This is how I explain to people the hidden side of systemic racism. You don’t know what you don’t know.

How many of you have heard the story of the slavery in America in school? There were major parts left out of what we were all taught. Enslaved African people had value far above and beyond the free labor they provided Whites for 246 years. These are a few of the things White slaveholders had at their disposal: if someone killed or injured an enslaved person you owned they would have to pay you restitution; you could sell the males and females into prostitution; you could open up a breeding plantation; you could use them to pay taxes you owed; you could use these Africans as collateral to receive a loan; you could loan out the skilled ones and be paid for their labor; you could auction them off to pay debts; you could leave them as an inheritance to your children and grandchildren. I have seen the last will and testament of the woman whose family enslaved my family in Mississippi. It was devastating to read the words of this woman who was giving my family members away just as she did household items and animals to her children and grandchildren.


Read the full article here.

Learn more about the different instances of Systemic Racism here.

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