Should more be done by the government to prevent systemic racism?

Protests across the U.S. raised questions about whether racism is, in fact, embedded through laws, regulations, and common practices across criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power, and education

Rise of the Issue

The death of George Floyd in 2020 inspired a wave of protests all over the world against the lingering effects of systemic racism throughout societies. It fueled the Black Lives Matter Movement, a movement that was initially founded in 2013, and sparked conversations on how big the issue of systemic racism really is and whether it is the government’s role to fix racial disparities. 

The main debate around systemic racism revolves around whether racism still pervades U.S. institutions and formal structures to the point where it needs to be addressed by the government through, for example, affirmative action, or whether doing so would put people facing other types of inequalities at a disadvantage by overemphasizing the question of race.

Issue Timeline


First Black Codes Were Enacted

Soon after slavery was abolished, states adopted laws that codified what black people’s rights were - although it included their right to marry and own property, it also restricted their labor and activity.


Jim Crow Laws Came Into Effect

These laws prevented black people from using the same public amenities as white people, including water fountains, public transportation, theaters and cemeteries.


Brown v Board of Education Is Decided

The Supreme Court determines segregation in public education facilities is unlawful.


Congress Passes Civil Rights Act

As a result of the Civil Rights movement, most notably activists like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Congress formally outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.


Protesters Are Injured During Bloody Sunday

During a march from Selma to Montgomery, law enforcement officers attacked unarmed protesters with billy clubs and tear gas.


George Floyd Is Murdered by Police

His death sparked a worldwide wave of protests against racial injustices and fueled the Black Lives Matter movement.

Micro Issues



The two sides differ on whether discrepancies between white people and people of color are due to institutionalized racism or other factors.


Formal Segregation

Opponents point out that there is no more formal segregation between black and white people, while supporters argue the remnants of decades of oppression can still be felt today.


Positive Discrimination

While supporters believe action should be taken to reduce discrepancies between white people and people of color when it comes to factors such as education, job opportunities and criminal justice, opponents worry this is a case of “positive discrimination” that would end up negatively affecting white people.

Pro Arguments


There is a wage gap between white people and people of color.

Black and Latino men earn 76 and 75 cents respectively for every dollar earned by white men, and the statistics are even worse for women of color.


People of color are more likely to be incarcerated than white people.

For every 100,000 residents, there are 1240 black people and 349 latinos incarcerated, yet only 261 white Americans.


Wealth inequity persists throughout generations.

Black households historically own a fraction of the wealth of white households in the United States, leaving them one step behind, even if they currently earn a similar income.


White people generally have better access to quality education.

People of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods that have less available public funding, and thus lower quality public education, also making their chances of getting into college slimmer.


Black people are more likely to be killed during a police encounter.

As a black person, you are 3.23 times more likely to lose your life at the hands of law enforcement.

Con Arguments


There is no more formal segregation.

Laws that separated black and white people and awarded them different rights were eradicated in the previous century.


People of color can attend educational institutions.

Following Brown v Board of Education in 1954, black people are no longer banned from attending schools nor do they need to be segregated in schools.


Affirmative action creates lesser opportunities for white people.

In the case of a limited number of spots, such as for university enrolment, favoring people of color would lead some white people to be rejected.


White people with limited opportunities may become frustrated.

Systemic racism only looks at people whose opportunities are limited because of the color of their skin, and leaves out white people who face other types of challenges and inequalities.


There are people of color that are well off.

The statistics and generalizations do not apply to everyone, there are people that are well off and do well in life regardless of their skin color - meaning it is attainable.