What Is Structural Inequality?

According to Wikipedia, structural inequality occurs when the fabric of organizations, institutions, governments or social networks contains an embedded bias which provides advantages for some members and marginalizes or produces disadvantages for other members. This can involve property rights, status, or unequal access to health care, housing, education and other physical or financial resources or opportunities.

Structural inequality is believed to be an embedded part of the culture of the United States due to the history of slavery and the subsequent suppression of equal civil rights of minority races.

Based on this knowledge, it becomes easier to see structural inequality in and outside of our own lives. Looking at a city like Dubuque, where the current Mayor and city council are all white appearing, it becomes easy to see how representation and embedded biases in the leaders who are in power, create marginalized experiences for the under-represented populations.

I have no knowledge of what the current Mayor and city council are like, I trust that they are outstanding people and do their best to further the betterment of the people of Dubuque. But as stated many times during the Black Lives Matter movements of this past year, we are all racist because of the cultural impacts we had growing up. Every white person has some privilege that was given to them by no one in particular because they are not a person of color.

Structural inequality can only be changed by tearing down and creating a new structure that benefits everyone equally, instead of building on the blocks that were designed to benefit one people over another in society. There is still a long way to go and many institutions that have been created need to be restructured, including our own hometowns and ones we spend the most time in.

By taking it upon ourselves to be better toward one another and challenge the society built around us will allow for more inclusion and conversation in the world going forward.

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