Types of Racism

Posted by Tanisha Felder on 1/10/2020

Race and Racism

The idea of race has a complex history.  It has been used for centuries to categorize, reward, and penalize people based on perceived differences.  Despite often being misguidedly defined by skin tone and other physical attributes, race has no genetic basis.  This powerful social construction has a tremendous impact on individuals’ lives because it is often employed to establish and maintain privilege and power dynamics.  Access to resources and opportunities are often distributed along racial lines.

Commonly defined as “prejudice + power,” racism is prejudice or discrimination against someone based on his/her race.  Underlying this is the belief that certain racial groups are superior to others.  Racism can be manifested through beliefs, policies, attitudes, and actions.  Racism comes in several forms, including:

 

Individual or internalized racism – This is racism that exists within individuals.  It is when one holds negative ideas about his/her own culture, even if unknowingly.  Xenophobic feelings or one’s internalized sense of oppression/privilege are two examples of individual or internalized racism.

 

Interpersonal racism – This is the racism that occurs between individuals.  It is the holding of negative attitudes towards a different race or culture.  Interpersonal racism often follows a victim/perpetrator model.

 

Institutional racism – Recognizing that racism need not be individualist or intentional, institutional racism refers to institutional and cultural practices that perpetuate racial inequality.  Benefits are structured to advantage powerful groups as the expense of others.  Jim Crow laws and redlining practices are two examples of institutional racism.

 

Structural racism – Structural racism refers to the ways in which the joint operation of institutions (i.e., inter-institutional arrangements and interactions) produce racialized outcomes, even in the absence of racist intent.  Indicators of structural racism include power inequalities, unequal access to opportunities, and differing policy outcomes by race.  Because these effects are reinforced across multiple institutions, the root causes of structural racism are difficult to isolate.  Structural racism is cumulative, pervasive, and durable.