I find that people who insist America is not racist have little to no acquaintance with the concept of systemic racism.
They see racism as a simple matter of white people saying "bad words" about black people. They might extend that to employment discrimination. Maybe housing discrimination. But mostly they are incapable of grasping the concept of systemic racism because they see the world through the eyes of individualist liberalism, where system and structure do not exist.
I don't find Harris's statement problematic, particularly because if we pay close attention to other things she says, you realize that what she said there was a political safety move. Obama caught hell every single time he brought up the concept of systemic racism. Harris listened.
The majority of Americans simply cannot imagine systems having so much power controlling individual "choice."
I'm afraid it's going to take at least another 50-100 years before that concept becomes an acceptable explanation...for ANYTHING.
US democracy includes a whole lot of people who will cling to individualist explanations until the day they die.
If Harris had done what progressives (and that includes me) wanted her to do, she'd never have been in a realistic position of becoming US VP.
The first "nontraditional" (i.e., black women/POC, etc. folks ) politicians HAVE TO COMPROMISE in very uncomfortable ways with the system to some extent in order to move into positions that can have some power to open the system further.. And progressives all too often fail to see that.
I screwed up my own academic career by naively starting out believing the claim of "academic freedom" was sacrosanct and supported by all. Four years of coping with reality (in the midst of having to cope with an explosion of PTSD) destroyed my health and my academic career entirely.
I was true to my beliefs in the need for educational instutitions to CHANGE, and change dramatically, I still hold those beliefs, but I haven't been in much of a position to do something about it. My naivete nearly killed me.
That is no exaggeration. It is iterally true.
Coming face to face with a reality you had no idea actually existed (no matter how much you might have read about it), and paying dearly for that mistake, is a great awakener.
One hopes that happens before your body falls apart. Alas, all too often that realization comes too late.
I am one among more than a few cases of white educators trying to do the right thing and then getting nearly destroyed for the effort.
Of course, my white naivete and my introversion did not help!!!
The mechanical jaws of systemic racism, misogyny, etc. can be killers. And no one even has to fire a shot.