To the Editor:
Joe Alger, the organizer of a pro-police motorcycle rally held last weekend in McHenry County, doesn’t “believe there’s systemic racism in this country.”
Mr. Alger is wrong. Systemic racism exists in the United States, and it is not a matter of opinion.
It has been extensively documented by scientists, policy makers, and community leaders going back to the founding days of this country. Academics have written reams about it. Novelists have devoted careers to it.
Poets have lamented it.
Perhaps Mr. Alger is not the sort of person who listens to scientists, academics, novelists, or poets. Perhaps Mr. Alger considers himself more of a numbers guy. Here are some numbers:
• 2.5, the number of times more likely a black man is to be killed by police than a white man
• 40, the percentage of this country’s prison population that is black (despite black people comprising only 13 percent of the population as a whole)
• 3.5, the number of times more likely a black student is to be referred to police for a matter of school discipline
With more column inches at my disposal, I could list similar numbers for health, housing, wealth, and employment. Using almost any measure by which well-being and opportunity are measured, Black people are faring worse than white people in this country.
I can only think of two possible explanations for this. One is a racist lie about the inherent inferiority of Black people invented by slaveholders to justify their own monstrousness. The other is that a system of racist oppression in policy and practice has been in force in this country since its founding and that system has prevented Black people from accessing the rights and opportunities of full citizens.
If Mr. Alger or anyone who shares his “opinion” on systemic racism can think of a third explanation, I sure would love to hear it—scratch that, I’d love to read it printed as publicly and unamibigously in this paper as Mr. Alger’s original ill-informed assertion was.