Magazine July 27, 2020, Issue

On Systemic Racism

Downtown New York City, June 30, 2020 (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
A useful concept misapplied

For several decades now, America has struggled with a new development in race relations: Jim Crow is gone, and the great majority of whites have abandoned openly racist attitudes, and yet severe racial inequality has persisted. Where it was once obvious why blacks lagged whites on numerous measures of thriving, today the explanation is more complicated, involving the prejudice that indisputably still exists, the legacy of past discrimination reflected in the environments that blacks experience, and cultural and behavioral differences between the two groups. This is one reason the term “systemic racism” has caught on with the Left: It ties

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