Tag Archives: blacklivesmatter

Deconstructing the Different Embedded Component of Racism – What we really need to Understand by Diane Shawe M.Ed

I was five years old when I first heard the phrase or taunt ‘Blacky’ I had played with all my neighbours on the street and in the garden when I was little, looking back my neighbours were black, white and asians. We use to love playing tick. My mum picked me up from my new infant school and I asked her what was a blacky.

She politely asked me were I had heard the phrase and I told her some kids were calling us it at school. She said to take no notice and focus on learning and doing as the teacher said. So I did, but for the next 7 years I could now describe all the various ways I was racially profiled, abused and taunted by both teachers and my classmates without realising it back then. I can now on reflection ask ‘How did that white young child understand to start calling me blacky when I didn’t even know they were white or indeed that I was black? I just saw Jane who was my best friend, she had freckles and ginger hair.

In view of this whilst conducting my mini research for this article, I began to understand that simply making throw away statements as to what racism is and peoples assertion that it may or may not be stamped out was coming from a place of pain, helplessness, denial or plain historical orchestrated planning.

One thing we can all agree on is that racism is alive, it is fed, it has been modernised, debated clinically, psychologically, intellectually, emotionally from generation to generaion.

Contrary to a dictionary definition, racism, as defined in social science research and theory, is about much more than race-based prejudice—it exists when an imbalance in power and social status is generated by how we understand and act upon race.

The UN does not define “racism”; however, it does define “racial discrimination”. According to the 1965 UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

The term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

UN Racial Discrimination 1965

Racism exists when ideas and assumptions about racial categories are used to justify and reproduce a racial hierarchy and racially structured society that unjustly limits access to resources, rights, and privileges on the basis of race. Racism also occurs when this kind of unjust social structure is produced by the failure to account for race and its historical and contemporary roles in society.

So with this in mind, when the slogan ‘Black lives Matter’ descended into competing factions like ‘Blue lives Matter’ or ‘All lives Matter’ I became a little confused as to why visually seeing a unarmed, handcuffed man’s life being snuffed out in broad daylight by an appointed officer sworn in to defend all people, along with insurmountable evidence going back hundreds of years starting from yesterday could then generate competitive slogans in retaliation to minimise what we all saw and witnessed as being equal to everything else?

I then discovered that racism in itself is not a simplified one paragraph statement in a dictonary, it’s not about setting up a Diversity department with one member of staff having no power to affect real change from the board of dircectors, investors, recruitment and legislation.

From Race transitioning into racism, oppression, cruelty and suppression this little child has grown up to be a sophisticated adept monster.

So began my education into the 7 forms of Racism which I have best summarised below (reminds me of the 7 deadly sins)

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The 7 Forms of Racism

Racism takes seven main forms, according to social science. Rarely does any one exist on its own. Instead, racism typically operates as a combination of at least two forms working together, simultaneously. Independently and together, these seven forms of racism work to reproduce racist ideas, racist interactions and behavior, racist practices and policies, and an overall racist social structure.

Representational Racism

Depictions of racial stereotypes are common in popular culture and media, like the historical tendency to cast people of color as criminals and as victims of crime rather than in other roles, or as background characters rather than as leads in film and television. Also common are racial caricatures that are racist in their representations, like “mascots” for instance or the “Angry Black Women” for instance.

The power of representational racism—or racism expressed in how racial groups are represented within popular culture—is that it encapsulates a whole range of racist ideas that imply inferiority, and often stupidity and untrustworthiness, in images that circulate society and permeate our culture. While those not directly harmed by representational racism might not take it seriously, the presence of such images and our interaction with them on a near-constant basis helps to keep alive the racist ideas attached to them.

Ideological Racism

Ideology is a word that sociologists use to refer to the world views, beliefs, and common sense ways of thinking that are normal in a society or culture. So, ideological racism is a kind of racism that colors and manifests in those things. It refers to world views, beliefs, and common sense ideas that are rooted in racial stereotypes and biases. A troubling example is the fact that many people in American society, regardless of their race, believe that white and light skinned people are more intelligent than dark-skinned people and superior in a variety of other ways.

Historically, this particular form of ideological racism supported and justified the building of European colonial empires and U.S. imperialism through the unjust acquisition of land, people, and resources around the world. Today, some common ideological forms of racism include the belief that Black women are sexually promiscuous, that Latina women are “fiery” or “hot-tempered,” and that black men and boys are criminally oriented. This form of racism has a negative impact on people of color as a whole because it works to deny them access to and/or success within education and the professional world, and subjects them to heightened police surveillance, harassment, and violence, among other negative outcomes.

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Discursive Racism

Racism is often expressed linguistically, in the “discourse” we use to talk about the world and people in it. This kind of racism is expressed as racial slurs and hate speech, but also as code words that have racialised meanings embedded in them, like “ghetto,” “thug,” or “gangsta.” Just as representational racism communicates racist ideas through images, discursive racism communicates them through the actual words we use to describe people and places. Using words that rely on stereotypical racial differences to communicate explicit or implicit hierarchies perpetuates the racist inequalities that exist in society.

Some Comedians often paint a picture to a wide audience. Study has shown that storytelling can form the most embedded images into the subconscious mind, wrap that into laughter another very powerful emotional tool to stimulate memory and feeling, it is easy to see that monkey joke being repeated time and time again for instance. It is viewed as harmless by the presenter because it was packaged as a joke by a well known commedian.

Interactional Racism

Racism often takes an interactional form, which means it is expressed in how we interact with each other. For example, a white or Asian woman walking on a sidewalk may cross the street to avoid passing closely by a black or Latino man because she is implicitly biased to see these men as potential threats. When a person of color is verbally or physically assaulted because of their race, this is interactional racism. When a neighbor calls the police to report a break-in because they do not recognise their black neighbour, or when someone automatically assumes that a person of color is a low-level employee or an assistant, though they might be a manager, executive, or owner of a business, this is interactional racism. 

Hate crimes are the most extreme manifestation of this form of racism. Interactional racism causes stress, anxiety, and emotional and physical harm to people of color on a daily basis.

Institutional Racism

Racism takes institutional form in the ways that policies and laws are crafted and put into practice through society’s institutions, such as the decades-long set of policing and legal policies known as “The War on Drugs,” which has disproportionately targeted neighborhoods and communities that are composed predominantly of people of color. Other examples include Stop-N-Frisk policy that overwhelmingly targets black and Latino males, the practice among real estate agents and mortgage lenders of not allowing people of color to own property in certain neighborhoods and that force them to accept less desirable mortgage rates, and clerks and judges automatically assuming that the presence of a black person in court must be a defendant and not a solicitor or barrister. (recently reported)

Institutional racism preserves and fuels the racial gaps in wealth, education, and social status, and serves to perpetuate white supremacy and privilege.

Structural Racism

Structural racism refers to the ongoing, historical, and long-term reproduction of the racialised structure of our society through a combination of all of the above forms. Structural racism manifests in widespread racial segregation and stratification on the basis of education, income, and wealth, the recurrent displacement of people of color from neighborhoods that go through processes of gentrification, and the overwhelming burden of environmental pollution borne by people of colour given its proximity to their communities. Structural racism results in large-scale, society-wide inequalities on the basis of race.

We can see this when local areas that have enjoyed house prices being maintained and an assumption made that having ethnic people move into the area automatically result in house prices going down. But on the other hand a run down area could be rejuvenated automatically as soon as white people move in forcing residents who have been deprived for years to move out.

Systemic Racism

Many sociologists describe racism in the U.S. and U.K as “systemic” because the country was founded on slavery and racist beliefs that created racist policies and practices, and because that legacy lives today (more so in the U.S) in the racism that courses throughout the entirety of our social system. This means that racism was built into the very foundation of that society, and because of this, it has influenced the development of social institutions, laws, policies, beliefs, media representations, and behaviors and interactions, among many other things. By this definition, the system itself is racist, so effectively addressing racism requires a system-wide approach that leaves nothing unexamined.

But here is the cunnundrum, when what is seen as the norm to white people who have only known to do what they have been doing all along, when they believe their model is already superior and any alternate model from which to compare in order to modify would diminish their position, I would go as far as to say it would be like asking a fish to fly when its only experience has been to swim in water. The fish could end up experiencing stress and trauma or even fear. All of these emotions have a reactionary response, not dissimilar to the person being continuously discriminated against as described above.

Here me out here… However according to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution man evolved from fish and became acquainted to both Land, Sea, Air and Fire. An intelligence beyond all other creatures on earth. All around the world we can now see evidence of what man can create and sadly what he can destroy.

Sociologists observe a variety of styles or types of racism within these seven different forms. Some may be overtly racist, like the use of racial slurs or hate speech, which some people have identified and tried to be political correct whilst others use it to hurt and hammer home their pain, fright or anger.

There are some policies that intentionally discriminate against people on the basis of race. Others may be covert, (but isnt the act of covert implying complicitness?) kept to oneself, hidden from public view, or obscured by color-blind policies that purport to be race-neutral, though they have racist impacts.

While something may not appear obviously racist at first glance, it may, in fact, prove to be racist when one examines the implications of it through a sociological lens or the feedback and complaints presented by the reciepients.  If it relies on stereotypical notions of race and reproduces a racially structured society, then it is racist.

Due to the sensitive nature of race as a topic of conversation some have come to think that simply noticing race, or identifying or describing someone using race, is racist. Sociologists do not agree with this. In fact, many sociologists, race scholars, and anti-racist activists emphasise the importance of recognising and accounting for race and racism as necessary in the pursuit of social, economic, and political justice. (We must however agree that the earth contains different races and that will not change unless we destroy ourselves)

Both sides of the isle often digs in because they are operating from fear. We see the oppressor become more erratic and seek to use the legal system, government, army or commercial power to justify and repackage their unfair practices whilst crushing modernisation and equality by all means necessary using disinformation to divide and sow mistrust.

What are we evolving into? Is it so painful and unjust to want to see the whole world share in our further evolution economically, geographically, socially, environmentally, policically or religiously?

With over 7 billion consumers on this planet perhaps to be serviced by almost 2 billion suppliers, designers, developers, farmers, educationalist and health specialist the list goes on why does a few elite societies prefer to move us towards destruction because they are apposed to equality and human dignity?

We have the luxury of history, it has shown us time and time again the fall of hugh empires imploding because the rulers have abused their fellow man, become corrupt, greedy, uncaring and cruel. Surely we can do better and not repeat history.

So if both parties are blinded by the ‘I lose you gain’ principles one has to ask, is Racism taught and if so who is doing the teaching?

There is more than enough for everyone to enjoy

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result

Albert Einstein

So where do we go from here? There are two side to every coin, one side could not exist without the other. What I find troubling is there are some people who want to do the same thing over and over again to achieve exactly the same result as before. A chilling thought.