Systemic Classism, Systemic Racism: Are Social and Racial Justice Achievable in the United States?

48 Pages Posted: 28 May 2009

See all articles by Thomas Kleven

Thomas Kleven

Texas Southern University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Date Written: May 27, 2009

Abstract

This paper argues that the United States is systemically a highly classist and racist society, that systemic classism and racism are intimately interrelated phenomena, and that reforming this situation requires a mass movement of working class people of all ethnicities for social and racial justice for all. Section II discusses aspects of American society infected by systemic classism and racism. The focus is on the economic system, the local governmental structure, and the political process - central and interrelated features of society's class and racial hierarchies. The thesis is that these institutions are structured and operate so as to systematically disadvantage ethnic minorities (in particular African Americans and Hispanics) and working class people in general.

Section III addresses what it would take to bring about systemic reform. Part A outlines a program for a non-classist/non-racist society, a major theme being that it requires a substantial reordering of power relations that now advantage a fairly small and predominantly white upper class segment of the population. Part B assesses the conditions under which a mass movement for social and racial justice might arise, focusing by analogy on the Abolitionist Movement, the New Deal era and the Civil Rights Movement. Part C examines the possibilities of a reform movement in light of the current economic crisis. The Conclusion asserts that without a mass reform movement this will remain a highly classist and racist society for the foreseeable future.

Suggested Citation

Kleven, Thomas, Systemic Classism, Systemic Racism: Are Social and Racial Justice Achievable in the United States? (May 27, 2009). Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1405927

Thomas Kleven (Contact Author)

Texas Southern University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law ( email )

3100 Cleburne Street
Houston, TX 77004
United States
713-313-7355 (Phone)

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