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Understanding Racism: A Comprehensive Overview (Video)

Definition of Racism

Racism is most simply defined as the belief that one racial group is superior or inferior to another. This belief manifests in different ways and can be categorized into two main types: interpersonal racism and systemic racism.

Interpersonal Racism

Interpersonal racism occurs when individuals express hurtful language or biased beliefs towards others based on race. This type of racism is often referred to as prejudiced behavior. Examples include using derogatory terms like the n-word or holding negative stereotypes about a particular racial group.

Systemic Racism

Systemic racism, in contrast, refers to the ways in which institutions such as schools, governments, hospitals, and courts disadvantage particular racial groups. This type of racism is embedded in the policies, practices, and norms of these institutions, leading to unequal outcomes for different racial groups.

The Role of Power in Racism

A key distinction between interpersonal and systemic racism is the element of power. While anyone can engage in interpersonal racism, systemic racism can only be enacted by racial groups who hold power in society. This power dynamic is crucial in understanding the impact and reach of systemic racism.

Historical Context and Power Dynamics

In the context of the United States, those who have historically been oppressed by slavery may exhibit prejudiced behavior or interpersonal racism. However, due to their relative lack of power in society, they are unable to engage in systemic racism. This distinction underscores the importance of power in discussions about racism and its effects.

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