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Racism as Defined by YWCA Mankato

The full article, “Concepts in Racial Equity” is here…


Excerpt from the article…


The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Mankato, Minnesota, 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.

How does YWCA define “power”?
In defining racism, power refers to an encompassing societal understanding of power. The financial and corporate industries are run by a white majority.  The major media outlets in the country are led by a white majority.  This is societal power and why only the white community can be racist.  Certainly, there are specific instances in which people of color have “power” but these situations are temporal, situational, and not overarching.

Can a person of color be racist?
No.  This is not to say that bias, stereotypes, and prejudices do not exist within communities of color.

Certainly, they do; both internally and externally.  Communities of color rely on bias, stereotypes, and prejudices both amongst their own members and between their own community and other communities of color or the white community.  They can be discriminatory in nature and even exhibit bigotry (hatred of another group because of racial differences).  However, it is not racism because there is a lack of widely recognized power.

There are different forms of Racism
Racism is more than saying racist things. Racism can exhibit itself in many forms including: individual, institutional, structural, and systemic racism.

Individual Racism
The beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism. This is what we often think of first when we think about racism. Individual racism can occur at both an unconscious and conscious level.

Individual Racism at the subconscious level. A non-Black person who locks the car doors when a Black man walks by.  Seeking out an Asian colleague to assist you with a work challenge involving mathematics. (these are all stereotypes that he/she may believe)

Individual Racism at the conscious level is refusing to date Asian men because of their perceived emasculation.  Refusing to date a Black woman because of an anticipated bad attitude.  Not hiring a Latinx individual because of the perceived expectation that the person is lazy.

Institutional Racism
Institutional racism is done by individuals or informal social groups, governed by behavioral norms that support racist thinking within social and political institutions such as school districts, the criminal justice system, or housing.

Whether implicitly or explicitly expressed, institutional racism occurs when a certain group is targeted and discriminated against based upon race inside institutions. Institutional racism is mostly implicit in our ideas and attitudes, so it is often unnoticed by the individual expressing it.

Structural Racism
Structural Racism in the U.S. is the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. It is a system of hierarchy and inequity, primarily characterized by white supremacy – the preferential treatment, privilege and power for white people at the expense of Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous/Native, Arab and other racially/ethnically oppressed people.

Systemic Racism
Systemic racism is composed of intersecting, overlapping, and codependent racist institutions, policies, practices, ideas, and behaviors that give an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to people of color.  These systems of oppression are everywhere and impact every portion of American society.

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