[ Question ]

Any good organizations fighting racism?

by Liface1 min read27th May 20206 comments

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A friend has asked for good organizations to support that combat racism. I was surprised not to find any discussion of this neither here, on Google, or on the r/EffectiveAltruism subreddit.

Perhaps the topic is simply too tenuous? Maybe organizations are fighting the effects, e.g. economic discrimination, rather than the cause?

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Personally, I would want to get a more operationalised definition of "fighting racism" before going deeper on this question.

But, guessing as to what counts and what doesn't, I'd suggest checking out OpenPhil's criminal justice reform grantees.

My understanding is that the criminal justice system plays a central role in institutional racism in the United States. For example, it is a significant contributor to the racial unemployment gap:

Mass incarceration plays a significant role in the lower labor force participation rate for African American men. African Americans are more likely to be incarcerated following an arrest than are white Americans, and formerly incarcerated individuals of all races experience difficulties in gaining employment. In spite of years of widespread agreement among researchers that incarceration is a profound factor in employment outcomes, employment statistics still do not gather data on incarceration, erasing a key structural factor. (Ajilore 2020)

Thus, criminal justice reform seems like an effective, targeted way to break the cycle.

If your primary target is specifically institutional racism in developed countries, then I agree, which is why I suggested it.

I'm not sure if that's the right thing to prioritise, though. If your goal is to reduce disparities between ethnic groups globally, or even to tackle harm from ethnic discrimination globally, I'd guess you can do better elsewhere, in particular in the developing world.

I’d like to see a more detailed explanation about this question, too. Particularly, I wonder how a specific intervention to fight racism would fare in tractability, neglecteness and impact.

On the other hand, I guess that, in a very broad sense, racism (broadly understood as ethnic prejudice and discrimination) likely has externalities affecting EA causes:

a) it fuels internal social strife (civil war, genocide, mistrust, immigration crisis) and increases the odds of external conflict (and even nuclear warfare, like India vs. Pakistan).

b) It may rationalize scope neglect: people fail to recognize the impact of interventions in other cultures, either because they think their lives worth less, or they think progress is unachievable (“what’s the point of saving a child from malaria, if she’ll starve?”). (this is a falsifiable claim, but I couldn't find anyone testing it)

c) It raises suspicion over other areas. For instance, I think the past association between eugenics and racism may pose an obstacle to discuss improving humanity’s long-term prospects through genetic engineering.

Thank you for asking this! I'm afraid I don't have any answers, but I also think that it would be great if EAs researched this question (and I'm happy Open Phil seems to be doing some of this). I also think that how 'fighting racism' or 'US criminal justice reform' compare against other cause areas on neglectedness, tractability and impact is somewhat beside the point. There is a huge amount of enthusiasm to tackle these problems at the moment, and people are eager to donate to organizations that combat them, but I've not seen much discussion or reflection on which are most effective. Most of these people would never be persuaded to donate to (e.g.) AI risk prevention or animal rights orgs, but they might be persuaded to donate to more-effective anti-racism/criminal-justice-reform organizations. If EAs can find out which orgs are more effective in this area, and promote them, that could create a lot of impact compared to the counterfactual.