Please allow me to briefly tell you a little about myself. I was born in a very small rural town in eastern Ohio (Columbiana, just south of Youngstown). My father had been a drill instructor in the Marines before working for GE for 25 years, and my mother is a born again conservative Christian. By the time I was in high school, I'd held a weapon in my hand more than a musical instrument. One of the few ways many of us found to express ourselves was through violence, and the way to a better world was thought to be through war. It wasn't until later in life I learned the errors of those ways. Since then, I've made a very good career in the arts as a designer for theater and film, and have even held a significant university position.
I'd always done well in school despite poor public school resources, had a reputation as a creative designer prior to teaching, and was always considered pretty "smart." A few years ago I was tested for the first time and found out how much so. I feel like I've just realized I have a very unique gift, and the past few years I've been trying to figure out what to do with it. I've been lucky to have a career that allowed me to travel the world and see how different people see the same thing. I've also seen the power that a shared experience can have on large groups of people. So I thought I'd figure out why, since it was a language that I knew better than anything else.
(And I can't express enough my intention behind all of this is for the best. I'd like to think that there is a way for all of us, not only in this country but around the world, to move forward as one. If I imply anything, or use a designation incorrectly it is only out of my own stupidity and ignorance.)
For the last few years I've been working on some projects. One in particular is a scientific look at what I'll refer to as inherent visual prejudices when we see the world around us. It has always made sense to me as an artist, but when supported by scientific research it leads to a unique observation as to why humans behave a certain way. Carried further into the decision making process, a possible explanation for things like brutality and racism can be understood a little more. When you said institutional racism is "in the DNA" you were exactly right. What I've found is a visual/neural reaction common to most living creatures, but more profound in upper mammals and primates. Not only is there a genetic predisposition, the brain is wired to support it. Every iteration of decision making that follows carries these perceptions into larger and larger systems. As you said, the only way to deal with it is for us to "...confess our sins." I completely agree. If we can understand and communicate this, it may give people a way of changing their consciousness as to who a person really is.
I've put this exploration into different formats to be viewed, if you're interested. The "Overview" is a little dry, but states the scientific methodologies that will be used. It's not necessary for you to watch the video or explore the Prezi. It's designed to lay the research ground work for the follow-up, "Why We Feel What We See." (I use Shakespeare and Stormtroopers from Star Wars to demonstrate the effect of visual stimuli.) In it is a discreet explanation of these visual prejudices and how they impact human reaction to what is seen.
Video format- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeXgEo2GQbc
Why We Feel What We See
(Download and open through iBooks. I apologize for the size of the file, but I've been told it's worth the wait.)
As I'm not one to leave a problem without a solution...here are some links to an educational/community outreach project that uses arts and culture as a way to break down some of these prejudices and affect positive social change. It's been titled "Discover the World."
There's a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkfRyTYFpsw.
There is also a Prezi presentation at http://prezi.com/1qwgub7qgbga/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy.
This is a little heavy on the bandwidth, but you can explore in a little more depth and at your own pace.
Even if all this has no interest or relevance, at least know there are others that still believe that this country is about everyone, despite all that is happening around us. If any of this makes sense and could be of any value, let me know.