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Certainly there are many whites who are poor and

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Unformatted text preview: have no power to affect their own well-being? Don’t individuals have responsibility for their own outcomes? Some observers worry that a structural racism analysis doesn’t say enough about the responsibility that all individuals, including people of color, bear for making the most of their lives. In a way, they’re right: by its very nature, structural racism is mainly concerned with the role of public and private institutions that are supposed to allocate basic resources to groups and communities equitably. It assumes that the actions of these institutional actors significantly define the contours of opportunity for individuals. Few themes are as powerful in the American psyche as that of individual responsibility. Moreover, the success of the civil rights movement reinforces the perception that all individuals now have the freedom and opportunity to succeed in America—that there is a level playing field and that personal achievement now depends solely on merit. Certainly, there are many whites who are poor and disadvantaged and there are m...
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