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It is not as easy as you may think to find a simple definition of the term “systemic racism.” Given that we hear it so often, wielded with such blithe certainty, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the phrase actually, well, means something. But it takes some digging to discover that meaning, if there is any meaning to discover at all. An article in USA Today, published during the height of the BLM riots last summer, appears intent on answering the question. The headline says: “What is systemic racism? Here’s what it means and how you can help dismantle it.” The piece surveys various “civil rights leaders and advocates,” including the head of the NAACP and the president of the “racial justice” advocacy group Race Forward. Between these authoritative sources, the following definitions of systemic racism are offered: “The complex interaction of culture, policy and institutions that holds in place the outcomes we see in our lives. Systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantages African Americans. Systemic racism is naming the process of white supremacy.”

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