Anti-racism refers to a form of action against racial hatred, bias, systemic racism, and the oppression of marginalized groups. Anti-racism is usually structured around conscious efforts and deliberate actions to provide equitable opportunities for all people on an individual and systemic level. As a philosophy, it can be engaged with by acknowledging personal privileges, confronting acts and systems of racial discrimination, and/or working to change personal racial biases. (Wikipedia)
"Anti-racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably" (qtd. attributed to NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity).
Anti-racism is an active way of seeing and being in the world, in order to transform it. Because racism occurs at all levels and spheres of society and can function to produce and maintain exclusionary "levels" and "spheres," anti-racism education/activism is necessary in all aspects of society. It does not happen exclusively in the workplace, in the classroom, or in selected aspects of our lives. Anti-racism theory analyzes/critiques racism and how it operates, which provides us with a basis for taking action to dismantle and eliminate it (Henry & Tator, 2006; Kivel, 1996).
In How to be an Antiracist, Ibram defines antiracism as a collection of antiracist policies and ideas that cause racial equity.
An example of an antiracist idea is the belief that no race’s culture or subculture is better than any other’s.
Examples of antiracist policies are the Immigration and Nationality Act (1965), the Refugee Act (1980), and the Immigration Act (1900), all of which encouraged immigration to the US from non-European countries.
An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity. (Kendi, 2019)
Bias is often characterized as stereotypes about people based on the group to which they belong and/or based on an immutable physical characteristic they possess, such as their gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
Bias is a natural inclination for or against an idea, object, group, or individual. It is often learned and is highly dependent on variables like a person’s socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, educational background, etc. At the individual level, bias can negatively impact someone’s personal and professional relationships; at a societal level, it can lead to unfair persecution of a group, such as the Holocaust and slavery. (Psychology Today)
Cultural representations refer to popular stereotypes, images, frames and narratives that are socialized and reinforced by media, language and other forms of mass communication and “common sense.” Cultural representations can be positive or negative, but from the perspective of the dismantling structural racism analysis, too often cultural representations depict people of color in ways that are dehumanizing, perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes, and have the overall effect of allowing unfair treatment within the society as a whole to seem fair, or ‘natural.’
Diversity has come to refer to the various backgrounds and races that comprise a community, nation or other grouping. In many cases the term diversity does not just acknowledge the existence of diversity of background, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and so on, but implies an appreciation of these differences. The structural racism perspective can be distinguished from a diversity perspective in that structural racism takes direct account of the striking disparities in well-being and opportunity areas that come along with being a member of a particular group and works to identify ways in which these disparities can be eliminated.
Ethnicity refers to the social characteristics that people may have in common, such as language, religion, regional background, culture, foods, etc. Ethnicity is revealed by the traditions one follows, a person’s native language, and so on. Race, on the other hand, describes categories assigned to demographic groups based mostly on observable physical characteristics, like skin color, hair texture and eye shape.
Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics. (Staats, State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013).
Individual racism can include face-to-face or covert actions toward a person that intentionally express prejudice, hate or bias based on race. Individual racism refers to an individual's racist assumptions, beliefs or behaviours and is "a form of racial discrimination that stems from conscious and unconscious, personal prejudice" (Henry & Tator, 2006, p. 329). Individual racism is connected to/learned from broader socio-economic histories and processes and is supported and reinforced by systemic racism.
Institutional racism refers to the policies and practices within and across institutions that, intentionally or not, produce outcomes that chronically favor, or put a racial group at a disadvantage. Poignant examples of institutional racism can be found in school disciplinary policies in which students of color are punished at much higher rates that their white counterparts, in the criminal justice system, and within many employment sectors in which day-to-day operations, as well as hiring and firing practices can significantly disadvantage workers of color.
Racial equity refers to what a genuinely non-racist society would look like. In a racially equitable society, the distribution of society’s benefits and burdens would not be skewed by race. In other words, racial equity would be a reality in which a person is no more or less likely to experience society’s benefits or burdens just because of the color of their skin. This is in contrast to the current state of affairs in which a person of color is more likely to live in poverty, be imprisoned, drop out of high school, be unemployed and experience poor health outcomes like diabetes, heart disease, depression and other potentially fatal diseases. Racial equity holds society to a higher standard. It demands that we pay attention not just to individual-level discrimination, but to overall social outcomes.
Racism = race prejudice + social and institutional power
Racism = a system of advantage based on race
Racism = a system of oppression based on race
Racism = a white supremacy system
Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism involves one group having the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices. (“What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.)
Ibram defines racism as a combination of racist policies and ideas that causes and maintains racial inequities.
An example of a racist idea is the generally held belief that Black people are more dangerous than White people. Growing up, Ibram believed in this idea and was constantly scared that the other Black kids at his school would beat him up.
An example of a racist policy was the one in Ohio that required newly registered voters in the 2004 federal election to submit their voter-registration forms on a particular kind of expensive paper, which made it harder to register. The policy appeared to target all newly registered voters, irrespective of race, but a large percentage of newly registered voters were Black, meaning the policy promoted racial inequity.
A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt over time. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice. Instead it has been a feature of the social, economic and political systems in which we all exist. It is the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal – that routinely advantage Whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics, and entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.
Examples of structural racism can be seen in the many institutional, cultural, and structural factors that contribute to lower life expectancy for African American and Native American men, compared to white men. These include higher exposure to environmental toxins, dangerous jobs and unhealthy housing stock, higher exposure to and more lethal consequences for reacting to violence, stress, and racism, lower rates of health care coverage, access, and quality of care, and systematic refusal by the nation to fix these things. (Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities , 2004 and Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building, 2005).
In many ways “systemic racism” and “structural racism” are synonymous. If there is a difference between the terms, it can be said to exist in the fact that a structural racism analysis pays more attention to the historical, cultural and social psychological aspects of our currently racialized society.
A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable [for white people], triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. (DiAngelo, “White Fragility,” 2011).
White privilege, or “historically accumulated white privilege,” as we have come to call it, refers to whites’ historical and contemporary advantages in access to quality education, decent jobs and liveable wages, homeownership, retirement benefits, wealth and so on. The following quotation from a publication by Peggy Macintosh can be helpful in understanding what is meant by white privilege: “As a white person I had been taught about racism that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage. . . White privilege is an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in every day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious.” (Source: Peggy Macintosh, “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” excerpted from Working Paper #189 White Privilege and Male Privilege a Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College Center for the Study of Women (1989).)
In 1988, Peggy McIntosh published an eye-opening piece on white privilege entitled "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." This article was the first of its kind as it names, in very clear ways, 50 “invisible” privileges of being/appearing white. Many people of colour and Indigenous people (particularly those who do not "pass" as white) are acutely aware of these privileges—which they are denied on a daily basis; thus, the article also functions to give people of colour the language to name and understand their experiences as well.
Some of McIntosh’s examples of white privilege are as follows:
I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
I can choose blemish covers or bandages in "flesh" colour and have them more or less match my skin. (This also goes for tights or makeup)
If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live; I can be pretty sure that my neighbours in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them; I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.
Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behaviour without being seen as a cultural outsider.
If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.
I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.
I will feel welcomed and "normal" in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.A
A portion of some definitions were cited from Aspen Institute