As seen by critics, structural racism is fundamentally word games, semantics; substitute “low-income” for “race” and there is no difference in the analysis or policy recommendations. As seen by ideological supporters who actually don’t grasp the meaning of the word “structural,” the lens is turned to questions of “racist attitudes” rather than persistent disparate outcomes.
The recent exchanges in the pages of the Chronicle of Philanthropy concerning a conservative theorist’s odd critique of structural racism ended up with the example of the subprime lending crisis as the example debated. A response to the Chronicle’s conservative columnist cited the subprime mortgage foreclosure issue as one that exemplified outcomes that could be defined as evidence of structural racism. The columnist countered that the subprime issue and the suggested policy responses were racially neutral, not induced by racial animus, and equally likely to have been generated from an analysis of the subprime crisis through a low-income rather than structural racism lens.