Institutional discrimination is systematic and deeply embedded in U.S. society. Its effects can be seen in education, housing, and health outcomes, among other areas, with members of society being unequally impacted based on their social class, race, and/or gender.
What would you do if faced with institutional discrimination?
You are a young, married African American woman. You and your husband have salaried jobs and live a middle-class lifestyle while putting money away in savings each month.
Despite this, as a minority couple, you encounter acts of overt and covert racism and discrimination in your daily life.
You currently live in a diverse, urban community. You are looking to purchase your first home and start a family. You have $15,000 saved for a down payment
You have found a house you love in a suburban gated community that is currently being built. The area is predominately white. The schools are some of the best in the state.
You apply for a loan, but you are told your application is denied. The loan officer and his manager ignore your argument that you have great credit and savings for a down payment.
The loan officer suggests you buy a less expensive house in another community, which is predominantly black and Hispanic.
Do you hire a lawyer and try to get the decision by the loan officer overturned, or do you look for a home in a different neighborhood?
You look for a different home
You apply for a loan with a community bank and purchase a small home located in the other school district the loan officer had suggested to you. The down payment is $5,000.
Discrimination in housing options is a pervasive, often covert, form of institutional racism.
Studies suggest that blacks are shown 18% fewer homes than whites, and banks grant loans to twice as many whites as they do blacks.
One study suggests that black families making $100,000 a year live in the types of neighborhoods comprised of white families making $30,000 a year
The embedded forms of discrimination in the housing industry are carried out by day-to-day interactions with individuals reinforcing discriminatory practices
You are settled into your new home but have not been feeling well.
You need to establish care with a new primary care doctor, but since there is not one covered by your insurance in your area, you go to a neighboring city to see a doctor.
You see the doctor but leave feeling unsettled. The appointment seemed very rushed. The doctor never made eye contact with you and did not seem to take your concerns seriously. After explaining the odd pains across your chest and showing him a small rash, the doctor tells you that it looks like mosquito bites and that you can buy a cream for them over the counter. What do you do?
Do you find another doctor, go back for a second visit, or forgo the doctor altogether?.
You look for another doctor
It takes you weeks to find another doctor within the limitations of your health insurance. In the meantime, your rash grows and becomes very painful. Frightened, you go to the emergency room, where you are diagnosed with shingles. Despite having insurance, the emergency room visit still leaves you with a bill of $2,000.
African Americans, along with other minority groups, are far more likely than whites to report experiencing poorer quality interactions with their doctor.
African Americans are also much more likely than whites to report difficulty when communicating with their doctor, which can result in a lack of preventative care that can lead to more serious health issues.
The emergency room doctor explains that shingles usually happens to older adults but can be triggered in young adults who are experiencing high stress, which compromises their immune systems
The doctor gives you an antiviral medication, but antivirals’ effectiveness for shingles is limited, and you will mostly have to wait out the infection.
The doctor also advises you to get lots of rest and exercise and to make sure you are eating a lot of fruits and vegetables in order to strengthen your immune system and reduce your stress levels.
You decide to go shopping to stock up the fridge with healthy food. The only food store in your new community is a corner store located less than a mile from your house.If you want to go to a major supermarket, you have to travel to the nearby city over 25 miles away.
Do you go to the local convenience store or travel to the supermarket in the nearby city?
You walk to the store
When you get to the convenience store, you find that it does not carry fresh fruits and vegetables. It is stocked mainly with junk food and packaged goods, and the prices are much higher than you are used to. You spend $75 on a few items and walk back home..
Communities that lack access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods are known as food deserts. Food deserts typically exist in low-income areas that lack traditional grocery stores.
. Black and Hispanic neighborhoods have more small grocery stores and fewer large supermarkets than white neighborhoods.
African Americans are half as likely as whites to live in an area with a chain supermarket. Housing policies in the 1940s and earlier that restricted African Americans from access to neighborhoods in higher-income communities continue to shape the type of resources African Americans have. Institutional discrimination has long-lasting effects on individuals and on society as a whole, with members of society being unequally impacted based on their social class, race, and/or gender. Systematic practices that prohibit minority group members from gaining access to valuable resources in society are typically carried out by individuals. Through individual actions repeated on a mass scale, systematic discrimination is reinforced and reproduced.
Take a moment to reflect on the various choices you made in the simulation and their outcomes. In one paragraph, discuss how both individual and societal factors influenced your decision-making and how these decisions can be understood using sociological concepts.
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