It is important to understand how terms are used both in this Toolkit as well as in broader anti-racism work. The definition of racism is prejudice with the power to enforce it. However there are differences on what this actually means and there are a host of other terms used in this work. The posts on this page explore various interpretations and emphasis.
Like the below graphics that portray a wide range, a palette of colors (used in ceramic glazes); so definitions are nuanced. Just as you see many colors of green, there can be many definitions for “racism” and often the different definitions have distinct uses.
Racism: Racism is prejudice with the power to enforce it.
Racism is prejudice backed up by institutional power, based on the belief that race is the primary factor determining positive human traits and abilities. Racism holds that genetic or inherited differences produce inherited superiority or inferiority
Since a shared vocabulary is the necessary first step for discussing racial equity, Generocity has put together a glossary of useful terms. Example — Ally: A member of a dominant or privileged social group who works for justice and equity with members of non-dominant social groups
YWCA Mankato defines racism as the combination of prejudice and power to exert an outcome upon another based on that person’s racial identity. Currently, in the United States, power rests within the white community.
In defining racism, power refers to an encompassing societal understanding of power.
“In a racist society, it’s not enough to be non-racist — you have to be anti-racist.” — Angela Davis
1. White Privilege: White privilege refers to the unmerited set of advantages, entitlement, benefits, and choices given to people simply because they are white. 2. White Supremacy: White supremacy is an institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression
Race: An arbitrary and disputed classification of modern humans, usually based on a combination of various physical characteristics such as skin color, facial form, hair, or eye shape, … Modern racial classifications took hold in the nineteenth-century as “scientific” explanations for white supremacy and as justifications for colonial imperialism.
1. How do you define racism?
As with other “isms” (like capitalism, communism, etc.), racism is both an ideology and a system. As such, I define it in two ways. As an ideology, racism is the belief that population groups, defined as distinct “races,” generally possess traits, characteristics or abilities, which distinguish them as either superior or inferior to other groups in certain ways.