Racism still exists today, although many people may not see it. Art Munin, dean of students at Illinois State University, examines that issue, in depth, in his book Color by Number: Understanding Racism Through Facts and Stats on Children and backs up the idea of racism with facts.
“I believe racism exists as a chronic and pervasive facet of life, as a factor that privileges whites while oppressing people of color, and as a definitive barrier to growth and advancement for all of society,” said Munin.
The book highlights three main issues: how complicated it is to discuss race, socioeconomic status and ever-changing data regarding different races. Munin explained, “children of color are less likely to have access to health care, more likely to live in poverty and are less likely to graduate from college.”
In his book, four years’ worth of research on racial inequality has been laid out with charts and graphs to help diversity educators easily use the information. “All diversity educators teach the same way by talking about diversity, so we are only reaching one type of learner,” said Munin. “Some people need numbers and facts – they want to be shown.”
The research Munin collected presents a wide variety of statistical measures. “I purposefully used data that readers would intuitively understand and that did not require specialist knowledge,” he said.
Using the data, Munin pointed out that 71 percent of juvenile arrests are white and only 26 percent are black. However, 52 percent of the white juvenile cases are dismissed and only 43 percent of black juvenile cases are dismissed.
“My point in highlighting these facts is not to isolate white youth as particularly deviant. Rather, I hope to debunk the myth that youth of color are the sole or likely perpetrators of crime,” explained Munin. “Though common stereotypes seem to elicit fear of black youth, statistically it makes more sense to be fearful of whites.”
Raised on the south side of Chicago, Munin witnessed first-hand the divide in socioeconomic status. “There were many things that happened in my life that were lucky,” said Munin who is a first generation college student. He also said this is not the norm and that the vast majority of people end up in the same class into which they were born.
Munin hopes this book will make people stop and ask questions. “I think that we often accept simple truths that we are presented with in this society. I hope the facts and stats in this book challenge the viewpoints people hold, push them to examine their own worldview and ask critical questions,” he said. “I’m just another person trying to make a difference.”