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The Tripartite Beast, and Illness of Individual, Institutional, and Structural Racism

Howard Eagle

I was encouraged by a recent Op/Ed in the Minority Reporter titled “Straight No Chaser: How to Turn Talk About Racism Into Action,” at, in which Columnist Gloria Winston discussed ‘forbidden-fruit’ issues related to the tripartite beast and illness of individual, institutional, and structural racism, which are thoroughly bound up together, completely intertwined, and totally inseparable from one another, i.e., there can be no continued institutional, and/or structural racism without continued individual racists — by the millions

Gloria’s editorial is important, and timely, not only as it relates to concrete suggestions as to how so-called anti-racists can impact the tripartite beast (in the here and now, as opposed to the bye-and-bye), but, it also presents a clear, classic example of how the three major forms of racism (individual, institutional, and structural) intersect, in the process of functioning, i.e., the Nojay (deceased) / Barrett (alive) electoral-dichotomy, relative to news coverage prior to, during, and after the September 2016 primary race.

The actions, and/or in-actions of the institutions involved are the results of decisions made by certain individuals, which I’m sure is why Gloria offered the advice: “Sweep around your own front door, JOURNALISTS.”

With regard to the structural formation of the ‘beast;’ as we know, racism was embedded in the very fabric and foundation of U.S. society, i.e., within it’s social, economic, political, and “dominant” cultural systems (from day one, to present), and is, therefore, necessarily embedded, and/or reflected in each and every major institution within the society.

And it is especially and particularly embedded in mass media and educational institutions, which represent two of the most effective, and efficient entities within the society, relative to perpetuation, and maintenance of the ‘illness via policies, practices, procedures, rules, regulations, and laws that guide, and govern the institutions.

Yet, institutions do not establish, and/or maintain themselves.

Nor do institutions (in and of themselves) create, maintain, and/or perpetuate policies, practices, procedures, rules, regulations, and laws that guide, and govern them; powerful people do.

This is what allows us to accurately discuss the completely entangled nature, and essence of the three major forms.

Gloria raised the question “… why Unite Rochester seems to have avoided connecting with some of the more opinionated personalities in our community?”

She noted that she “never did get a straight answer, regarding why some of the stronger, more opinionated personalities who have been most vocal about racism in our community seem to have been black-balled, or boycotted from the group, which has yet to put a dent in our community’s RACISM.”

There is no doubt that I am among “the stronger, more opinionated [and most knowledgeable] personalities who have been most vocal about racism in our community.”

I suppose this is why I was contacted by Karen Magnuson (who has headed up the so-called Unite Rochester initiative since the time of its inception), shortly after it was launched.

Magnuson sent me an email asking if I would help guide their efforts, which I agreed to do.

Well, needless to say, that so-called agreement was short-lived.

And, the reason is because I critiqued, and civilly and respectfully challenged one of the very first essays which appeared on Unite Rochester’s website, which had been written by Jennifer Leonard, president of Rochester Community Foundation.

The same day that I challenged the historical accuracy, or real inaccuracy of Leonard’s essay, I was blocked from posting on Unite Rochester’s website (from that day to present), which was more than three years ago, and I haven’t heard a single word from Magnuson since.

In other words, she apparently decided that, because I had hurt her fragile, upper class, elite, white, female friend’s feelings, not only did she no longer want my help, and/or assistance, but she would use her institutional power and authority to exclude me from “conversations around racial inequity to raise awareness about race and racism, and inspire a more inclusive and creative approach to solving community problems.”

And, here’s the kicker, this was after her fragile, upper class, friend admitted, with regard to my civil, and respectful criticism, I “was correct and the narrative [she] had learned was not right, which can be viewed at

Leonard then attempted to downplay her deep-seated ignorance, by claiming that “what we’ve all learned is that we always have more to learn.”

Yet, to add insult to injury, the woman who wrote the article (who is also associated with organizations that are providing funding for Unite Rochester, and others), in which Leonard is quoted, still didn’t get it right, i.e., she wrote: “The commenter [that would be me] expressed how some immigrants were brought to the country as slaves and to indicate they came willingly was inappropriate.”

Now does that sound like me?

I’m not a gambler, but I’d be willing to bet neither Leonard, nor Magnuson, would be able to immediately recognize the fundamental flaw, and error contained in the latter quote.

It is reasonable to think, if they did, or could, they would have corrected the information by now, since the article was written more than three years ago.

So, clearly, we have a case of the ‘blind leading the blind,’ and the actual propping up, and perpetuation of the beast, and the illness they claim to be combating; all the while being too arrogant, and dare I say too racist, to humble themselves, and to accept assistance (except from those who are willing to coddle them, and not call them out on their chronic fragility), which is another whole problem, and issue within itself (i.e., people of color, in particular, who willingly, constantly adapt to white, so-called anti-racists,’ deep-seated cognitive dissonance, and fragility; sometimes for a few pieces of silver or gold, sometimes to be liked, and/or for other unknown reasons, including the possibility of chronic, “post-traumatic slave syndrome (”

Please see additional readings at the links below:


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