In every sector of American life, from education to health care to housing to job opportunities, racism is evident.
“So whether you’re a civil engineer or a third-grader, there’s something about race that’s happening, that you’re experiencing,” said Dena Haynes of the Racial Equity Institute, an advocacy group based in North Carolina.
The Broward County Commission brought the group in to conduct a workshop meeting Tuesday. It was full of charts and graphs depicting lower outcomes for African Americans, outcomes driven by discrimination.
That’s just a fact of life for many Black professionals.
“Absolutely, so systemic racism is something so deeply embedded into our culture and into the practice of our society that honestly, for Black people like myself, you kind of just grew up thinking that was the normal way of life,” said Ernisha Randolph of Miramar. “It was more than just getting denied for a job and having to search for 20 or 30 jobs, it was deeper than that, it was literally getting denied for access to grow my business further.”
Randolph owns Sweetbutter Hospitality Group in Miami, which includes a catering business as well as a restaurant. She has lots of cringeworthy stories, like the time she and her white friends, with similar qualifications, applied for loans at the same bank.
“And I got denied for a business loan and my friends got approved for the loans,” Randolph said.
She also experienced blatant racism in the real estate world when she tried to find a place to open her restaurant.
“Absolutely, in South Beach, everything was all good until they found out it was a Black owner, then all of a sudden the rent is raised and they have another offer and it’s gonna have to go up from $18,000 a month to over $40,000 a month,” Randolph said, recounting one of many such incidents she faced in her search for a location.
None of that is surprising to the Racial Equity Institute.
“We say that socioeconomic difference does not explain the racial inequity,” said Monica Walker of REI.
That’s why Randolph devotes part of her time to mentoring young, Black entrepreneurs. She set up her own foundation with this mantra:
“Don’t worry about the systemic racism, don’t worry about the discrimination when it comes to jobs and housing and these things, we’re gonna figure out our own way out of this situation,” Randolph said.
After today’s presentation, the Broward County Commission said it will form a racial equity task force to find ways to make every county agency, and all sectors of Broward County, as colorblind as possible.