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UC Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute on Monday released a new visual explainer video and teaching guide on structural racism which helps resolve confusion around some common terms and concepts.

Designed primarily for high school educators, but also for people who work in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) spaces and local governments, the video breaks down four different forms of racism: structural, institutional, systemic, and interpersonal.

The video and teaching tool were released Monday to coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Interpersonal racism, the video explains, is the most narrow form of racism, and exists between individual actors.

Structural, institutional, and systemic racism are often conflated, with the terms sometimes being used interchangeably. The video distills the three forms of racism, providing examples of each.

Institutional racism, for instance, includes policies developed by organizations or governments that may on their face appear race-neutral, but have a disparate impact on different groups. They can include things like literacy tests which were used in the mid-nineteenth century as a way to prevent Black people from being eligible to vote. 

Systemic racism is broader, resulting in multiple disparate impacts of a policy within a system. For instance, if you overpolice a Black neighborhood, that results in higher arrests and crime rates for Black people.

The video goes on to explain that structural racism is yet the broadest form of racism, and describes how multiple systems interact. Residential segregation, for example, leads to segregated schools and disparate educational attainment. It also leads to disparate access to jobs and wealth creation.

The teaching guide offers several classroom prompts and discussion questions based on the video and other suggested reading materials.

The video script and teaching guide were developed by OBI Assistant Director Stephen Menendian.

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