Institutional Discrimination and Racism

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 2
Words: 594
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Undergraduate

Racism remains to be a widespread problem across the globe. It can be defined as a belief that race accounts for behavioral and ability differences and that representatives of one race are superior to members of others (Mooney et al., 2017). Notably, racism is not a strictly individual phenomenon, with discrimination against various races and ethnicities often becoming systemic. Thus, institutional racism is a form of discrimination “that represents actions, policies, and practices that result in ethnic/racial inequalities in life outcomes” (Elias & Paradies, 2021, p. 45). This essay will discuss institutional discrimination, implicit prejudice, aversive, and color-blind racism and how they contribute to the creation of institutional racism.

Institutional discrimination is a primary factor contributing to the construction and persistence of institutional racism. Mooney et al. (2017) define it as a disruption of normal operations and procedures in social institutions that leads to individuals or groups of individuals being treated unequally and with prejudice. Institutional discrimination results in fewer or less desirable opportunities being offered to ethnic and racial minorities. It is prevalent in education, health care, the criminal justice system, and employment, with minorities experience worse outcomes in these areas compared to their racial and ethnic majority counterparts. The institutional discrimination practices become established in social institutions over time, affecting relevant policies and guidelines and furthering the progression of institutional racism.

Implicit prejudice is another contributing factor to systemic racism against various minorities. Implicit racism can be viewed as bias against racial and ethnic groups that people are unaware of having (Mooney et al., 2017). It incorporates subconscious prejudice against racial and ethnic minorities and stereotypical beliefs about them. Thus, people with implicit bias are highly likely to treat representatives of a minority group unequally compared to the members of their own ethnicity or race. It can be argued that people with implicit racism beliefs working in social institutions, specifically in positions of authority, contribute to institutional racism.

Similarly, aversive racism expressed by individuals working within major social institutions can further institutional racism. Aversive racism is a form of unintentional prejudice expressed by people who believe that they are unbiased (Mooney et al., 2017). It is not an aggressive form of racism and is often characterized by feelings of disgust and discomfort that aversive racists may not be aware of (Mooney et al., 2017). Thus, aversion to members of racial and ethnic minorities can result in the perpetuation of racists beliefs within social institutions. It is particularly dangerous as its influence on policies and guidelines may not be recognized and acknowledged as a legitimate concern.

Color-blind racism is an equally dangerous phenomenon as it denies the existence of racism in modern society. According to Carrillo (2020), racial color blindness is a phenomenon of individuals, communities, and social institutions operating without race and ethnicity being officially acknowledged. Persons in positions of authority can legitimize their narrative of racism being eradicated and race and ethnicity playing no role in society within different institutions, leading to racism being perpetuated and furthered. In addition, refusal to accept racism still exists in society prevents it from being addressed. Overall, color-blind racism contributes to the creation of institutional racism.

In summary, racism and institutional racism remain persistent problems worldwide. Different forms of individual and systemic discrimination and prejudices contribute to the creation of institutional racism that affects the vital spheres of education, employment, health care, and the criminal justice system. Thus, institutional discrimination, implicit prejudice, aversive, and color-blind racism support institutional racism and prevent society from tackling the problem and improving life outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities.


Carrillo, I. (2020). Racialized organizations and color-blind racial ideology in Brazil. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 7(1), 56−70.

Elias, A., & Paradies, Y. (2021). The costs of institutional racism and its ethical implications for healthcare. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 18(1), 45−58.

Mooney, L. A., Knox, D., & Schacht, C. (2017). Understanding social problems (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.