Definition: The term “institutional racism” describes societal patterns that have the net effect of imposing oppressive or otherwise negative conditions against identifiable groups on the basis of race or ethnicity.
Institutional racism (also known as institutionalised racism) is a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions, as distinct from racism by individuals or informal social groups. It is reflected in disparities regarding criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education, among other things. Whether implicitly or explicitly expressed, institutional racism occurs when a certain group is targeted and discriminated against based upon race. Institutional racism can go unnoticed as it is not always explicit and can be overlooked. Institutional racism was defined by Sir William Macpherson in the 1999 Lawrence report (UK)as: “The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.”