I’d like to respond to the letter from Vince Beaudette that appeared in the May 23 newspaper ("Cudgel of accusations," May 23).
He said “while it’s true that isolated examples of cultural racism can be found,” the institutional racism of decades ago no longer exists, having been replaced by affirmative action.
Sadly, bias still impacts many people of color. Consider the maternal mortality rate. Depending on the area of the country in which they live, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows black women experience maternal deaths at about three to four times rate of non-Hispanic white women.
A study by the New York City Department of Health found disparities in the city’s maternal mortality rates held, even when accounting for differences in income, education, neighborhood poverty level and pre-pregnancy obesity.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in its ACOG Postpartum Toolkit, cautions that “implicit bias may affect the way obstetrician-gynecologists council patients about treatment options…”
In our schools, black students, and particularly black boys, often face harsher punishments than their white counterparts for similar offenses. Again, numerous studies point this out.
One from the Government Accounting Office looked at data from nearly all public schools in the country for the 2013 to 2014 school year. Black students accounted for 15.5 of students, but 39 percent of students suspended from school.
Differences in behavior don’t explain the gap. For instance, in one school, black students were suspended the first time they used profanity, while white students received warnings and detention.
These differences can impact students the rest of their lives. Students who are frequently expelled or suspended are more likely to drop out and become involved in the criminal justice system.
And if they encounter the criminal justice system, people of color tend to fare worse than white citizens. Many studies point out the disparities between white people and people of color when it comes police stops, handcuffing, and searches without consent.
To take an example close to home, when MetroTransit analyzed how it handled first-time fare evaders, it found black adults were 26 percent more likely than white riders to receive criminal citations, rather than warnings, while Native Americans were more than twice as likely.
Yes, the U.S. has made some progress when it comes to treating all its citizens equally. But we have much, much further to go.