Below is an on-going effort to collect different perspectives and resources for helping people better understand all forms of racism and white privilege. If you have additional resources or feedback to contribute please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Woods was quoted from the Atlanta Black Star Article, “10 Quotes That Perfectly Explain Racism To People Who Claim They’re Colorblind” saying:
“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you.
Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.
It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”
White Privilege and Racism
White people and people of color (POC) often experience two different countries in the U.S. The color of your skin can affect many interactions in this country from the way you’re treated by teachers, police, judges, bankers, employers, politicians, historians, etc. The color of your skin can affect your access to fair education, economic and social opportunities and personal self-worth. And the color of your skin can also expose you to prejudice, discrimination, trauma and systemic racism that other people don’t have to experience.
This concept can be a hard concept for white people to realize, especially if they live in segregated communities, grew up with a belief that everyone is treated equally with equal opportunities, was taught a whitewashed “pro America” US history, have worked hard for the things they have despite their privilege, and/or are suffering from similar things regardless of race, like poverty, lack of political representation, and other forms of oppression based on things like class, gender, religion, sexuality, etc.
Recognizing white privilege in this country doesn’t mean you are personally responsible for the world, that you didn’t work hard for your life, or that you explicitly support racism. But in order to progress towards a country that can treat everyone fairly and justly we all must understand the benefits and disadvantages of the social positions we are born in to, especially based on race.
Many white people grew up with a good/bad binary perspective on racism where we think of racism as bad, so if we hold a racist belief, then we too are bad. And if we hate racism, then we are good. This doesn’t leave much room for the idea of being a good person with unintentional internalized racism, which most white people are. This perspective brings up a lot of defensiveness when our internalized racism is challenged. In order to begin the process of challenging our internal racism we have to drop this good/bad binary perspective.
Dr. Robin DiAngelo Speaks about Good/Bad Binary Perspective
Watch full video here.
White privilege and racism is best understood with humility, not ego. Often reactionary or defensive feelings rise up from white people when hearing about white privilege and racial discrimination. Sometimes white people have to first spend time understanding whats behind these personal reactions they experience when hearing about their own privilege or about people below their privilege, before understanding white privilege and racial discrimination.
Without recognizing white privilege and racial discrimination, programs of cultural diversity, affirmative action and civil rights protections, meant to foster a more fair society, can seem unfair and can even cause white people to feel like victims. Conservative politicians and pundits have long understood the political benefits of creating false narratives and misinformation to make white people feel like victims from programs and movements meant to counter racism.
Racism is a White Problem
Racism in the US is preserved and perpetuated by the white majority of this country. Often people think it’s the explicit racism (white extremist, white nationalism, etc) that is responsible for the racism in this country, but in reality, the majority of the racism that negatively effects people, is preserved and perpetuated unknowingly by the moderate white majority of this country through their complicity and complacency of systemic and implicit racism. Explicit racism is just a byproduct of systemic and implicit racism.
- Racism Complicity
- To consciously or unconsciously support, contribute or benefit from racism or racist systems
- Racism Complacency
- to support racism and racist systems by not challenging it
To end racism in the US its imperative the white majority understand the many forms of racism, including systemic and implicit racism, understand, with humility not ego, our role in all the forms of racism, and begin to challenge racism in every aspect of life from friends, family, church, consumerism, elections, etc.
To take the first step of understanding all the forms of racism in the US, please explore the links, resources and perspectives below.
Table of Contents
Systemic, Structural and Institutional Racism
Implicit vs Explicit Racism
Microaggressions, Anti-PC Movement and the N-word
Dog Whistle Politics
Stereotypes in Media
Cultural Exchange vs Cultural Appropriation
Prison Slave Labor
Racism in Policing, Prisons and Justice System
Racial Police Brutality Captured on Tap
Alternatives to Calling the Police and Policing/Justice Reform
Discrimination & White Privilege in US History
Whitewashing of US History
Colonialism and Neo-colonialism
Discriminatory Housing Policies, Spatial Racism and Modern Segregation
Gentrification and the Affordable Housing Crisis
The Political Right: Trump, GOP, Rightwing Media, Religious Right and the Southern Strategy
Environmental Injustice, Racism, and Justice
Attacks on the Right to Protest
Racial Trauma, Weathering, Internalized Racism and Historical Trauma
The Case for Reparations
Strategies to Effectively Challenge Racism
Anti-Racism Institutional Changers
Social Justice/Anti-Racism Education Guides
James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America in “I am Not Your Negro” based on his unfinished novel, “Remember This House”. Watch entire movie
Systemic racism is 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.” “Glossary for Understanding the Dismantling Structural Racism/Promoting Racial Equity Analysis”
James Baldwin talks about the different types of institutional racism on the the Dick Cavett Show
In order to understand how racism effects so many aspects of life in the US you have to understand the racial disparities in this country among Police Interactions, Criminal Justice/Courts, Prison (Mass Incarceration), War on Drugs, Education, Employment, Wealth, Workplace, Voting, Housing, Surveillance, Healthcare, Media Representation
“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group” Peggy McIntosh. Explore this link to understand the basic forms of white privilege and other white privileged concepts such as Color Blindness/Post Racial Myth, White Culture (Whiteness), White Fragility, White Resentment, White Savior Complex, White Feminism and Intersectionality, Misogynoir, All Lives Matter myth, liberal post-racial reactions to Identity Politics and more.
White Privilege Explained in 5 Minutes
Many people associate the words “White Supremacy” with images of Nazis, the KKK or extreme anti-government militias. But White Supremacy can refer to more than just extremist groups. White Supremacy can be used to describe a society that perpetuates social injustices on people of color, while the “order” and “status quo” of this society is being protected, explicitly and implicitly, by a majority white moderate population. White supremacy can mean a society with institutions that are set up, consciously or unconsciously, to benefit white people more than black. There’s also “Polite White Supremacy” which is the notion that whites should remain the ruling class while denying that they are the ruling class, politely.
Most white people understand the more “in your face” explicit racism from conscious choices like joining the KKK or using racial Slurs, but less white people tend to understand the often more prevalent form of racism called implicit racism, which occurs from less conscious choices like racial profiling, racial bias, stereotypes or colorism.
A microaggression is the casual degradation of any marginalized group, often done without negative intentions and without a lack of understanding of systemic racism. The Political Correct (PC) movement was started to help counter implicit racism, such as microaggressions, but has since been co-opt by the far right, with a revised “thought police” narrative, to win political votes by demonizing any attempts to correct racism. The N-word is a word that white people should never use, regardless if non white people use it. Click on the link to learn more.
Kids Discuss Microagressions
Intersectionality explains how someone can feel multiple forms discrimination when an individual has multiple marginalized identities such as race, gender, age, ethnicity, health and other characteristics. For example a women of color may face sexism in the workplace, which is compounded by pervasive racism, and can be exacerbated by movements that only focus on helping the white women’s perspective, further marginalizing the problems of any women that isn’t white.
Dehumanization is the psychological process of making someone seem less than human and hence not worthy of humane treatment or moral consideration. This can lead to increasing and justifying violence, oppression, and genocide towards marginalized populations. The US has a long history of dehumanization of people of color. Dehumanization of people of color began during colonization to justified horrible realities such as the genocide of Native Americans, enslavement of Africans, and to keep poor white people from uniting with poor people of color. Dehumanization still continues today to effect how many white people view people of color.
When politicians use coded language (such as States Rights, illegal aliens, Inner City, Law and Order, Tough on Crime, War on Terror) they defend as benign, but is intended to provoke strong emotional responses in their target audiences.
Xenophobia can mean the fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers or the fear or dislike of the customs, dress, etc., of people who are culturally different from oneself. Politicians and media often push xenophobia as a nationalism reaction to the rise of globalization, multiculturalism, economic troubles, or the decline of white majorities. And is usually rooted in misinformation, racism and/or lack of understanding/exposure of other cultures. It can take many forms including but not limited to Anti-Immigrant, Latin American Prejudice, Islamophobia, Asian American Prejudice, Anti-LGBT, Transgender Violence. Click this link to learn about the types and affects of Xenophobia in the US.
“If institutionalized racism is the poison, then mainstream media is the hypodermic needle that pushes it deeply into the veins of society, rendering the humanity of black people invisible. And an increased awareness tells us that some media professionals don’t even realize they’re dealers. Relying on a well-worn template that frames black people as thugs and cultural malignancies by default is not news; it is propaganda that serves only to reaffirm for many Americans what they think they know about black people. And as long as media continues to stick to a script influenced by racial bias, our communities will continue to pay the price.” Kirsten West Savali
Using someone else’s cultural symbols to satisfy a personal need for self-expression, a costume, or as a mascot, is an exercise in privilege and is “not honoring a culture”. Cultural appropriation is itself a real issue because it demonstrates the imbalance of power that still remains between cultures that have been colonized and the ex-colonizers. (paraphrased from Jarune Uwujaren)
“The school-to-prison pipeline,” is a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out. “Zero-tolerance” policies criminalize minor infractions of school rules, while cops in schools lead to students being criminalized for behavior that should be handled inside the school. Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline.” ACLU
Slavery was outlawed by the 13th Amendment in the US except as punishment for crime. Immediately after systemic racial initiatives such as black codes, Jim Crow, war on drugs and the mythology of black criminality, along with the continual privatization of our prison system, has created a very profitable, and politically protected, slave market in our prison system.
Since the rise of cellphone cameras and police body cameras there has been a rise of police brutality against black people captured on tape. *Trigger Warning*
Often calling the police on people of color can trigger forms of racial oppression from harming the victim, deportation, to escalating the situation causing harm or death. Many of these consequences can be triggered by minor violations such as noise complaints, selling marijuana, public intoxication, etc. Its important to understand the consequences of calling the police and to always search for alternatives when possible. In addition to calling the police responsibility there are numerous ways to reform the policing and justice system to decrease brutality and oppression, such as restorative justice.
Throughout the History of the US there were many things that gave white people a huge advantage over non-white people that helped shaped our society today.
MLK Jr. on Reparations before the Poor People’s Campaign
There’s a battle in this country since the birth of this nation for our history. There’s been inspiring movements led by radical and cultural historians as well as movements, like the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy”, that attempts to whitewash the genocide, slavery, rape and oppression of our history, while creating new narratives that glorify the oppressors. Both sides of these movements help shape our society, for better or worse, today.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s 2017 address on the importance of the removal of four New Orleans confederate statues, against active and violent resistance , created in the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy” White Washing Era
Ever since the 15th amendment gave black citizens a right to vote, there has been voter suppression from Jim Crow style barriers and white terrorism to discriminatory voting laws and gerrymandering practices that disproportionately effect people of color’s ability to cast a vote today. Click on this link to learn about past and present forms of voter suppression that target people of color.
To understand racism today you must understand the roots of racism, which often begins with colonialism. Colonialism is based on the institutional theft, exploitation, dehumanization, genocide and enslavement of people of color by Western Civilizations. Many of our economic, political and social institutions today were established by colonialism, entrenched with colonial values such as white supremacy, racism and exploitation. Although the effects of colonialism can still be felt in many societies, “official” and “legal” colonialism has ended for the majority of the countries in the world. But this didn’t end the exploitation of poor countries by colonial powers. This exploitation continues in more clandestine and market based forms called Neo-colonialism, which can be at its worst during Disaster Capitalism.
Racial discrimination was once an explicit part of housing laws, regulations, and practices, which created unequal access to opportunity and wealth through intentional community and housing segregation by race. While the laws have changed, the impact of decades of institutionalized discrimination combined with new modern ways to discriminate, continues to have a profound effect on concepts like “spatial racism” (the geographic segregation of race, wealth, and opportunity) and on “modern segregation”. For example school segregation for black students is worse today than it was in 1968.
Gentrification can mean a variety of things to a variety of different people. One thing that is consistent among most definitions is the exclusion of marginalized populations. This exclusion happens in many levels from political representation by local governments and federal governments, equal access to free markets, exclusion of affordable housing, exclusion of property and tenant rights, and the exclusion of the right to continue raising your family and living in your culture in the neighborhood you grew up in. To many marginalized communities gentrification can seem like a continuation of the systemic and spatial racism they are dealing with everyday. The impacts of gentrification is often compounded when there’s a lack of affordable housing. Unfortunately the US is currently experiencing an affordable housing crisis, with more than half the amount of housing priced for very low-income families disappearing in the last decade.
President Trump has done a plethora of explicitly racist actions during his campaign and first year in office. But this same racism and dogwhistle politics has been a political strategy, expanded from the “Southern Strategy,” to win white votes for the GOP since the 1960s. The Religious Right and rightwing media outlets, like Fox News, have helped fuel the Southern Strategy to what it is today. Click on this link to learn more about current and past racism from the political right.
White terrorism against people of color has been a reality in this county since its birth. But in the last few decades white terrorism has been growing again due to many reasons such as attempts to white wash our history, systemic racism, growing multiculturalism in the US, Latino immigration, a black president, and a new white president who gain much of his support through stoking fears and misconceptions of white nationalist. Click on this link to learn about the history, rise and current allies of the white nationalist hate group movement.
“Environmental Racism is any environmental policy, practice, or directive that differentially affects or disadvantages (whether intended or unintended) individuals, groups, or communities based on race or color. Low income persons and people of color are exposed to greater environmental risks than white or affluent communities” DR. Robert Bullard, Father of Environment Justice
“The industrial food system as we know it today is the child of the plantation system of agriculture. They are both built upon exploited labor, dispossession and exploitation of land from indigenous peoples, the destruction of rural culture and land, consolidation of power and land in the ruling classes, and the forced migration of peoples” Blain Snipstal, Black Dirt Farm. Click on this link to about the history of the industrial food system, farm workers rights, restaurant workers rights, environmental racism, food apartheids and food sovereignty movements.
Food + Justice = Democracy: LaDonna Redmond at TEDxManhattan 2013
“In April (2017), two U.N. human rights investigators issued a statement in response to a wave of bills introduced in over 19 states since Trump’s election, which can generously be deemed “anti-protest.” The experts noted an “alarming and undemocratic” trend. In Indiana, for example, Republicans proposed legislation to allow police to use “any means necessary” to remove protesters from a roadway; in Virginia, lawmakers are considering a bill that would make “unlawful assembly” after the police have ordered a crowd to disperse punishable with a year’s jail time; in North Dakota, Republicans proposed legislation to legalize running over protesters if they are blocking roadways”
Sabaah Folayan’s documentary “Whose Streets?” about the black resistance against the systemic racial suppression of the Ferguson Police & US police system
Racial trauma” is how racism and discrimination negatively impact the physical and mental health of people of color. “Weathering” is how these negative impacts wear down people of color’s bodies over time making them greater at risk for health problems. Internalized racism is when people experiencing racism internalize negative feelings towards themselves and their culture. “Historical Trauma” is the collective and cumulative racial trauma experienced across generations.
“Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.” Ta-Nehisi Coates
Lessons about confronting racism and white privilege, on how white people can discuss race responsibly, persuasion techniques, organizational anti-racism, children lessons and anti-racism resources.
Also check our Anti-Harassment Resource Page
At the institutional level there are several approaches to confront racial injustice such as legal protections, affirmative action programs, reparations, restorative justice, and police reform policies. Click on this link to learn about each approach and their strengths and weaknesses.
The Responsible Consumer has put together a comprehensive list of resources and education guides to help teach students and youth how to understand and address racism and social injustice.
“If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you’d better have an established record of critique of our oppression.” Jesse Williams
Martin Luther King Jr Talking about the White Moderate in Letter from a Birmingham Jail
“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”
The Establishment: Your Calls For Unity Are Divisive As F*ck
Famous Moments in History, Reimagined By Centrists
by Kasia Babis of TheNib.com
Citizenship and Social Justice: Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston
Citizenship and Social Justice: 11-Step Guide to Understanding Race, Racism, and White Privilege
Black Out Coalition (Find a Black Owned Bank and Credit Union Near You)
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