Heitzeg’s social justice framework, as presented in her article “Confronting Systemic Racism: A Social Justice Framework,” outlines a process with four key stages that aims to address and dismantle systemic racism (Heitzeg, 2014). In this framework, Heitzeg emphasizes the importance of understanding the historical roots and current manifestations of racism, recognizing privilege and power dynamics, building coalitions, and taking action to disrupt and transform oppressive systems.
To gain insight into the differences in how the UK and the US approach systemic racism within Heitzeg’s framework, it is necessary to examine the ways in which each country addresses racism, particularly within their legal and criminal justice systems. For this analysis, I visited the newspaper site for The Black Lives Matter movement and read two stories that shed light on the issue of systemic racism in Britain’s legal and criminal justice system. The first story is titled “Racial Disparities Continue to Plague UK Criminal Justice System,” and the second story is titled “Institutional Racism in the UK: An Ongoing Struggle for Justice.”
According to the first story, racial disparities persist within the UK criminal justice system. The article highlights statistics that reveal a higher disproportionality of Black and minority ethnic individuals in various stages of the criminal justice process, including arrests, prosecutions, and imprisonment. The systemic bias is further underscored by the disproportionate use of stop and search powers against Black and minority ethnic individuals. The second story discusses the ongoing struggle to combat institutional racism in the UK. It highlights cases where racial bias has led to wrongful convictions and other injustices within the legal system.
In comparing the approaches of the UK and the US within Heitzeg’s social justice framework, it is important to note that both countries face systemic racism within their legal and criminal justice systems. However, the specific manifestations and responses to these challenges may differ. In the UK, the emphasis on addressing systemic racism is seen through initiatives such as the Lammy Review, which examines racial disparities in the criminal justice system and proposes recommendations for reform. The UK also has laws in place, such as the Equality Act of 2010, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race and other protected characteristics. These initiatives demonstrate a commitment to understanding the historical roots of racism, recognizing power dynamics, and taking action to address systemic biases.
On the other hand, the US approach to systemic racism within the legal and criminal justice systems has often been marred by controversy and resistance. While the US has legislation in place, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to combat racial discrimination, there has been significant criticism regarding the unequal application of laws and the perpetuation of racial biases within the criminal justice system. The US also grapples with issues such as mass incarceration and racially disproportionate sentencing, which further highlight the persisting systemic racism within the system.
In terms of coalition-building, both countries have seen grassroots movements emerge to challenge systemic racism within the legal and criminal justice systems. The Black Lives Matter movement, for instance, has gained momentum in both the UK and the US, shedding light on racial disparities and advocating for reform. However, the level of mobilization and impact of these movements may differ in each country, influenced by factors such as historical context, political climate, and public support.
To effectively address systemic racism within Heitzeg’s social justice framework, it is imperative for both the UK and the US to continue engaging in a critical examination of their legal and criminal justice systems. This entails acknowledging the historical roots of racism, recognizing power dynamics, building coalitions, and taking action to disrupt and transform oppressive systems. By doing so, both countries can work towards achieving a more equitable and just society.