People often point to historic laws that either intentionally or unintentionally negatively impacted black Americans as signs of systematic racism in our country today. I would make the following two counterpoints to why I see this argument as fundamentally flawed.
(1) The fact that these laws were overturned years ago is evidence that American society today is not systematically racist.
(2) Regarding the lasting effects of these policies, as proof for systematic racism, I would make the following argument:
We can always blame our circumstances based on past injustices, but it is an ineffective strategy to better ourselves. This kind of mentality creates a population that is despondent and believes that there is nothing they can do to improve their situation e.g victim mentality.
Therefore, I would argue that it is the mentality towards the bad policies that existed in the past that is the root of the problem, and not the lasting effects of the old overturned policies.
Proof of this is the millions of immigrants who have come to the US during this time with less education, money, skills, status let alone knowledge of the language or culture in America yet they are able to consistently move up the socioeconomic ladder irrespective of race or ethnicity.
Why is it that immigrants who start off in a much more precarious position in America are consistently able to become the upper echelon of society? For all intents and purposes, if there were systematic racism then people who are immigrants to the US (like Nigerian-Americans) should be just as much negatively impacted if not more so than American citizens who do not have this extra baggage.
In every population, there are two kinds of people. One group of people believe that if they work hard they can better their situation. The other group of people believes that their lives are dependent on the structural problems that they have little control over.
My problem with arguments like this is that they put a disproportionate amount of the blame on external factors that they have little control over and not nearly enough emphasis on personal decisions that they have 100% control over.