Racism

Racism

Discussions about racism are challenging when we have differing language, experiences, and definitions for understanding what’s at the root. For purposes of this site, we use the term “racism” to mean prejudice plus power to emphasize the mechanisms by which racism leads to different consequences for different groups. The relationship and behavior of these interdependent elements have allowed racism to continue, generation after generation. The power of structural racism perpetuates, even in the absence of explicit racist actors, by inherently promoting advantages for white people and disadvantages for people of color, with consequences that have interpersonal, cultural, and institutional manifestations.

Resources in this section offer different ways to understand interpersonalcultural, and institutional racism. Structural racism is described in the next section. For more information about how these terms are defined, please see the Glossary.

Interpersonal Racism

Each of us holds a core set of beliefs about the world. When these private belief systems show up as public expressions of bias and/or hate toward a person of color, the result is interpersonal racism.

In our day-to-day, interpersonal racism might look like a white person refusing to rent an apartment to a person of color, passing over a resume based on one’s name, or making a racist joke. The challenge is that the U.S. narrative about racism typically focuses only on interpersonal acts of racism. Too often, the result is that the individual who inflicts harm gets called out as a “bad apple”, rather than recognizing how racism is entrenched in policies, practices, and culture.

Cultural Racism

Cultural racism refers to representations, messages, and stories conveying the idea that behaviors and values associated with white people or “whiteness” are automatically “better” or more “normal” than those associated with other racially defined groups. Cultural racism shows up in advertising, movies, history books, definitions of patriotism, and in policies and laws. It helps justify laws and policies, such as racial profiling (an action by an authority based on the assumption that every person in a particular racial group is sufficiently likely to be a criminal that they can be stopped, searched, and/or questioned). The fact of racial profiling thus creates the stereotype that people use to further justify the policy. Cultural racism is also a powerful force in maintaining systems of internalized supremacy and internalized racism. It does that by influencing collective beliefs about what constitutes appropriate behavior, what is seen as beautiful, and the value placed on various kinds of music, art, poetry, speech, and other forms of expression. All of these cultural norms and values in the U.S. have explicitly or implicitly racialized ideals and assumptions (for example, what “nude” means as a color, which facial features and body types are considered beautiful, which child-rearing practices are considered appropriate.)

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which policies and practices of organizations or parts of systems (schools, courts, transportation authorities, etc.) create different outcomes for different racial groups – for example, by how various kinds of assets or sources of income are considered in credit worthiness, or how the number of bedrooms or bathrooms in a dwelling are considered by child welfare agencies in determining whether or not a child may remain in the home, when those agencies are investigating abuse and neglect allegations. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create, maintain, or fail to remedy accumulated advantages for white people and accumulated disadvantages for people from other racial groups.

Anti-Blackness

NFL star Colin Kaepernick tweeted, “Black people have been dehumanized, brutalized, criminalized and terrorized by America for centuries, and are expected to join your commemoration of “independence”, while you enslaved our ancestors. We reject your celebration of white supremacy and look forward to liberation for all.”

Anti-Blackness includes both overt racism in workplaces and pop culture (i.e. Black Friday), anti-Black racism embedded in systems and policies including surveillance, policing, mass incarceration, and redlining, in addition to the systemic underfunding of public schools and hospitals in Black communities.

In the workplace, anti-Blackness may show up as white managers expecting Black co-workers to bring up racism in the workplace, then asking them to serve on a Diversity Committee, on top of their other work, with no support or compensation.

The resources below provide entry points for individuals to understand the conceptual framework of anti-Blackness, and how they can intervene and center Black Liberation.

Anti-Blackness

TitleAuthorOrganization
“We Must Be In It for the Long Haul”: Black Foundation Executives Request Action by Philanthropy on Anti-Black RacismABFE
The American NightmareIbram X. KendiThe Atlantic
Undocu Guide to Dismantle Anti-Blackness at HomeUnited We Dream
Centering Blackness: The Path to Economic Liberation for AllA. Price, J. Bhattacharya, and D. WarrenInsight Center
How Brown Girl Solidarity Harms UsThenmozhi Soundararajan and Sharmin HossainWear Your Voice Magazine (WYV)
As Non-Black POC, We Need to Address Anti-BlacknessAna Cecilia PérezYES! Magazine
Dismantling Anti-Blackness TogetherLorgia García-PeñaNACLA
Let’s Talk About Anti-BlacknessYES! Magazine
Non-Black People of Color Need to Start Having Conversations About the Anti-Blackness in Our CommunitiesSharon ParkDoSomething
We Have Medicine for Each OtherJana Schmieding, Azie Dungey, et al.IllumiNative On-Air
How Latinx People Can Fight Anti-Black Racism in Our Own CultureAngie JaimeTeenVogue
My Best FriendIse LyfeSnap Judgment Films
Resources for Non-Black Asians on Anti-BlacknessFantasy World
Social Science Literature Review: Media Representations and Impact on the Lives of Black Men and BoysJanet Dewart Bell, Eleni Delimpaltadaki Janis, et al.Topos Partnership; The Opportunity Agenda

Cultural Racism

TitleAuthorOrganization
“The Worshipping of Whiteness”: Why Racist Symbols Persist in AmericaAlexandra Villarreal The Guardian
Beyond Appropriation: A Letter to My Fellow White Yoga TeachersBear Hebert
What’s Wrong With Cultural Appropriation? These 9 Answers Reveal Its HarmMaisha Z. JohnsonEveryday Feminism
White Supremacy CultureSURJ
Cultural AppropriationAORTA
Discussion Guide: American DenialKaren Zill, et al.PBS, Independent Lens
Don’t Mess Up When You Dress Up: Cultural Appropriation and CostumesKjerstin Johnsonbitchmedia
Racism and the MediaYasmin JiwaniCanadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society
The Harm of Native Stereotyping: Facts and EvidenceBlue Corn Comics
Three Ways to Speak EnglishJamila LyiscottTEDSalon NY2014
White Shamans and Plastic Medicine MenTerry Macy and Daniel Hart

Institutional Racism

TitleAuthorOrganization
A Day in a Life: How Racism Impacts Families of ColorLiving Cities
Confronting Institutionalized RacismCamara Phyllis Jones, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.Phylon
Confronting Racial Bias at WorkRace Forward
Definition & Analysis of Institutional RacismSolid Ground
Discourses on Race and the Role of GovernmentGrassroots Policy Project
Historical Development of Institutional RacismRobette Ann DiasCrossroads Anti-Racism Organizing & Training
Levels of Racism: A Theoretic Framework and a Gardener’s TaleDr. Camara Phyllis JonesAmerican Journal of Public Health
Racism ReviewJoe R. Feagin and Jessie DanielsRacism Review

Interpersonal Racism

TitleAuthorOrganization
The Hidden Victims of GaslightingRia WolstenholmeBBC
Hey, You Got a Little Racism Stuck in Your TeethVu LeNonprofit AF
Historical Trauma and Microaggressions: A Framework for Culturally-Based PracticeCarl MichaelsCenter for Excellence in Children’s Mental Health at University of Minnesota
How to Resolve Racially Stressful SituationsDr. Howard C. StevensonTEDMED 2017
Liberation and Equity: Love While Challenging Racist BehaviorAna Cecilia PerezInteraction Institute for Social Change
Microaggressions in Everyday LifeDerald Wing Sue and David RiveraPsychology Today
Project ImplicitTony Greenwald, Mahzarin Banaji, and Brian NosekHarvard University
Reducing Stereotype Threat: Strategies for InstructorsCenter for Teaching and Learning at Washington University in St. Louis
Microaggressions: Power, Privilege, and Everyday LifeVivian Lu and David ZhouThe Microaggressions Project