As Starbucks Training Tackles Racial Bias, Demos Launches Series Addressing the Dynamics of Racism

Release Date: 
May 29, 2018

New series exposes how social exclusion impacts society in several ways

Report comes in the midst of national conversation about causes of and solutions to racial bias

New York, New York— As the nation grapples with the issues of racial bias and discriminatory policing in the wake of the reprehensible arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks and several other highly-publicized incidents, Demos today released the first installment in a series of reports on the dynamics of race-based social exclusion. The paper, “Social Exclusion: The Decisions and Dynamics that Drive Racism,” argues that individual incidents of bias are symptoms of a system of social exclusion that includes our laws, policies, and practices. This initial paper, authored by Connie Razza, Ph.D., Director of Policy & Research at Demos, delves into the dynamics that drive racism, how that racism strategically harms people of color and working and poor white people, and the crucial role of policy in combatting this persistent and pervasive issue.

“Every day it seems we’re inundated with images of people calling the police on black people for doing little more than being in public. Each instance reinforces the idea that simply being black is justification enough for cultural and economic exclusion,” said Connie Razza, Director of Policy & Research at Demos. “The incident at Starbucks and their subsequent racial-bias training offer a unique opportunity to consider as a nation what actions we need to take—in our individual lives and together through our policies and laws—to build a thoroughly inclusive society.”

“We must look at these accounts not as discrete acts of aggression, but as part of a system of discrimination in a society that is intent on excluding black Americans from everyday participation,” Razza continued.

Excerpt from “Social Exclusion: The Decisions and Dynamics that Drive Racism”:

Social deprivation, economic disadvantage, and democratic disqualification are interrelated and mutually reinforcing—but distinct—dimensions of the overarching phenomenon of social exclusion. Social deprivation refers in part to a systemic denial of social capital, in which the loose social networks that lubricate one’s daily life through “norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness” are differently shaped and available depending on race, gender, and class. Economic disadvantage refers specifically to constraints on how groups of people are able to participate as workers, consumers, and owners. Democratic disqualification refers to the limits placed on the ability of certain citizens to have an equal say in the decisions of the nation or community.

Other reports in the series will examine issues including the labor market, the multiracial working class, higher education, and voting rights, and will be released into 2019.

Since joining Demos in 2017, Connie has spent her time delving into the persistent economic disparities facing people of color, in large part due to discriminatory policies and laws that work to exacerbate the wealth gap.

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