America was established by whites and for whites, usually at the expense of non-white people. This created systems that advantaged whites through things like access to land ownership, the right to vote, etc., and disadvantaged non-whites, most obviously through the horror of slavery. While these eventually ended, the consequences of this racist history have lasted to the present, continuing to disadvantage people of color. In the aftermath of a hurricane, things aren’t automatically better just because the storm is over. Even after explicitly racist laws have been brought to an end there is still an aftermath (especially as a storm is an act of nature, but racist laws are intentionally designed by humans). So it’s not surprising that in general, life in America continues to work best for white people and they tend to assume their experience of its goodness is normal and true for everyone. Then, when black and brown people cry out that this is not true, it is all too easy for white people to accuse them of “playing the race card” or as interpreting everything through the lens of racism.
Do people of color sometimes misinterpret some things as racist that were not? No doubt. But it happens no more so—and probably much less so—than the number of times white people “misinterpret” the experiences of people of color as having nothing to do with systemic racism.
It is also true that a comparatively small number of black and brown people flat out deny that systemic racism is an ongoing problem in America. Some of these spokespersons faced difficult challenges growing up and yet managed to escape poverty and thrive in American society. When white people hear this, many assume that if these individuals overcame the obstacles they faced by sheer determination, then everyone else should be able to do the same, right? Partially this comes from concern that talking about “systemic racism” only encourages black and brown people to “blame the system” for their misfortunes rather than taking responsibility for their own destiny. Some go even further and accuse white “liberals” of purposely creating the “myth of racism” to keep black and brown people disempowered. After all, if people believe they need liberals to rescue them, they will keep voting for them.
However, arguing that systemic racism does not exist while also claiming that “liberal” politicians promote a “victim mentality” to gain black and brown votes is actually arguing an example of systemic racism! This view says that systemic racism does exist to the extent that it conditions the free choice of the majority of black and brown folk in America. If free choice explains group behavior, how do we explain why the majority of black and brown people “freely choose” to be victimized by these liberal politicians?
The reason white folks like to point to the success of individual black and brown celebrities is because it fits their worldview that in America, anyone who works hard enough can rise above hardship to become anything, even president. This may reflect the experience of many white people, but it has never been the common experience of most black and brown people. The success of people like Obama and Oprah is not evidence against the continuing systemic racism in American culture and the white American church.
Of course, the election of a black president is no small thing! But the idea that America’s systemic racism ended with Barack Obama or with Martin Luther King, Jr., denies both the continued experience of the majority of black and brown folk and the reality of “the principalities and powers” the New Testament speaks of. 
Indeed, failure to address “the powers” can have unintentional racist consequences. If a person refuses to appeal to systemic forces to explain statistical group inequities, they are left with individual choice alone. From this perspective, the next logical conclusion would be that some black and brown people simply choose to succeed while others do not.
In our society, black males are nearly six times as likely to be incarcerated as white males while black women are twice as likely as white women to be incarcerated. (Incarceration rates for other ethnicities are also disproportionately high) (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics). Another statistic shows that the unemployment rate for black people is twice as high as the unemployment rate for white people (Economic Policy Institute). If these facts are not explained by the ways America’s systems have always tended to advantage whites and disadvantage non-whites, then the only answer left is that there’s something about being black that inclines them toward crime or unemployment, which is obviously a racist conclusion.
As a final thought, the desire to help people avoid a “victim mentality” and to take responsibility for their lives is a good desire. It’s also biblical in as much as the Bible consistently holds individual people responsible for their own free decisions. And in our fallen world there very well may be politicians who exploit (or deny) “systemic racism” for their own political gain. But this doesn’t mean that “systemic racism” is not an ongoing reality in America, as the vast majority of black and brown people testify.
 Ephesians 6:12