Defining Racism
Politics and Activism

Defining Racism

Not a re-definition, but there are more definitions than the few that we know.


Did you know that from a sociological standpoint, racism takes on multiple forms? I think that's an interesting fact about something that tends to be so over-simplified, usually by those that aren't subject to it. While it's known to be simplified, it also tends to be confused with things like prejudice, or simple observations, like identifying the races that make up your group of peers. While the basic definition is fine and everything, it does little to help in large scale situations, and even times provides more confusion. In this struggle to end the racism issue, it might be good to talk about these points of confusion.

The basic definitions of racism are:

"the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races"

"prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior"

Despite these being fully true, there's that side note that a few people mention, where it's claimed that minorities can't be racist, or that "reverse-racism" doesn't exist, citing systemic racism as the justification for their claims. The question is, are these claims true as well? I would say yes, in that the claims are based in the sociological aspect of racism. When looking at racism in a person to person setting, the basic definitions surely apply, but to our society as a whole, it's best to pay more attention to the seven types of sociological racism.

The definitions for the seven forms of racism are in the first link, which I implore you to check out considering each form explains the many ways a minority experiences racism in our society, as well as explains why only minorities can experience it in the first place here in the US. Within these seven forms, there's a variety of styles. Some styles may be overt, which would be the common examples consisting of hate speeches, or the use of slurs. Others would be covert, which are the ones expressed in secrecy, kept to oneself, or expressed while veiled under the guise of being "color-blind" while at the same time having racist impacts. Based on that information, it's safe to assume that racist actions are not only things a person can do out of malicious intent, but completely benign actions that have the result in keeping white supremacy as the status quo.

That does wonders to explain why one social group can see the issue, while at the same time another sees no issue and is confused as to why the topic of racism keeps coming up. Today in our society, most racism is covert with most overt forms of racism being condemned. That explains why racism is still discussed and that feeling that the measures to fight it aren't good enough. With that said, the best way to further combat racism would be to be more aware when it's being expressed covertly, and probably the only way to do that would be to learn from someone that experiences it. With this knowledge in mind, I hope you'll be able to expand how you perceive racism to better combat it in the future.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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