Systemic racism can't be ignored -- Ruth Meyer and Laurel Ravelo

Systemic racism can't be ignored -- Ruth Meyer and Laurel Ravelo

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We respectfully challenge the assertions of the Oct. 3 letter to the editor "New leaders won't change disparities."

One may be born with unlimited potential. But our country has systematically limited opportunities for people of color through bias, exclusion and violence. Generations of oppression and calculated government policy have strangled their opportunity for education, jobs, housing, health care and wealth accumulation. Many practices that limited opportunity are known: Jim Crow, segregated and unequal schools, and lynching. More racist history is not commonly known: red-lining or racist applications of the GI Bill and the New Deal.

Social justice cannot be color blind. It is imperative that everyone understand how unlevel the playing field has been and remains. A case in point is that the same day this letter was published, the State Journal reported that a video to promote UW-Madison was created nearly absent of people of color -- despite the creators of the video working with the largest black sorority on campus. This is the product of color blindness.

Our community offers many opportunities to learn to recognize racism as it affects us personally and as we participate in it systemically. The workshop Witnessing Whiteness has helped open our eyes to what we've learned to not see.

Laurel Ravelo and Ruth Meyer, Madison, Witnessing Whiteness facilitators

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