What is Institutional Racism?

Kwame Ture burst open the world’s understanding of oppression when he coined the phrase ‘institutional racism.’ His work and life challenges us to examine how spaces, policies, and rules can embody racism even in the absence of explicit racists. By only focusing on relationships or internalized thoughts, we lose the opportunity to enable sustained change. In this email we unpack institutional racism from a variety of perspectives. 

How does institutional racism connect with internalized and interpersonal racism?

  • Internalized racism affects interpersonal relationships
  • Interpersonal relationships are governed by institutional rules
  • Institutions overlap to produce systems such that racism in healthcare mirrors racism in schools and other areas

Internalized thoughts 
shape behaviors
which are guided by rules
rules distribute resources
which are controlled by institutions
institutions overlap to form structures


The video Institutional Racism Explained Through A Michael Jackson Song below is both illuminating but also open to critique. I invite you to engage the video through a critical lens. What follows is the powerful work of Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, as well as additional resources to think deeper about the interlocking nature of racism and anti-racism in our everyday lives.

Institutional Racism Explained Through A Michael Jackson Song

Michelle Alexander Explains The New Jim Crow

Helpful Resources

Put Your Money Into Action, Click the Buttons Below To Support Black Owned Business in:

Leave a Reply