2 What is Race?When examining the issue of racism, the most important thing to remember is that race is a social construction.We’ll examine exactly what this means by looking at 10 important facts about “race”
3 Fact 1: Race is a Modern Idea Ancient societies did not divide people by physical attributes like skin color or facial features (“racial” attributes)People were divided by things like religion, social class, and sometimes even language
4 Fact 2: Race Has No Genetic Basis NOT ONE characteristic, trait, or gene distinguishes all members of one so-called “race” from another so-called “race”What this means is that by simply examining one’s DNA, you would NOT be able to determine his/her “race”
5 Fact 3: Slavery Predates Race Throughout history societies have enslaved people often as the result of war and other factors – NOT because of physical characteristics or a belief in the inherent inferiority of a group of peopleA unique set of circumstances in the U.S. led to the enslavement of people based on physical characteristics
6 Fact 4: Freedom and Race were Born Together When the U.S. was founded the concept of equality was a new and radical ideaSince the U.S. economy was based largely on slavery, “race” was a convenient way to justify why the rights of the enslaved were to be deniedThis allowed slavery, based on race, to continue and thrive
7 Fact 5: “Race” Justified Social Inequalities as Natural As the concept of race evolved, it was used to justify (in addition to slavery), the extermination of Native Americans, the exclusion of Asian immigrants, and taking Mexican lands“Racial” practices were institutionalized in government practices as well as the law
8 Fact 6: Human Subspecies Do Not Exist Unlike many animals, the human species has not been around long enough (or isolated enough) to evolve into separate subspecies or “races”Despite surface differences, we are the most similar of all speciesDid you know that fruit flies have more genetic variation than humans do?
9 Fact 7: Skin Color is Only Skin Deep Most traits are inherited independently of one anotherThe genes for skin color, for example, have nothing to do with the genes for hair texture, eye shape, blood type, musical talent, or athletic abilityThis should debunk the ridiculous stereotype that all Black people look alike, can play basketball, and can dance.
10 Fact 8: Most Variation is Within and NOT Among “Racial” Groups Of the small amount of total human genetic variation, 85% of it exists within any local population (be it Italians, Chinese, Koreans, Africans, etc.)Two random Koreans, for example, are likely to be as genetically different than a Korean and Italian
11 Fact 9: Race is Not Biological, But Racism is Real Though biologically race doesn’t exist, race is still a powerful idea that gives people different access to opportunities and resourcesOur government and society have created advantages for being white – this affects everyone whether we are aware of it or not
12 Fact 10: Colorblindness Will Not End Racism Pretending that race doesn’t exist is not the same thing as creating equalityRace and racism are more than individual stereotypes and prejudicesTo combat racism, we need to identify and remedy attitudes (individual and social) and policies that advantage some groups at the expense of others
13 No Race, But Racism?Now that we’ve established some key assumptions about race, it’s time to think about racism, and how it operates.Beverly Tatum’s “Defining Racism: Can We Talk?”.
14 Can Black People Be Racist? Hacker (as did Tatum) discusses the issue of whether or not Black people can be racist.It is argued that while Black people (and other People of Color) can act in prejudiced ways, they can’t truly be racist because of their position as an oppressed group.Think about racism as prejudice + power
15 Can Black People Be Racist? Tatum expounds on this idea in an article in an essay entitled “Talking About Race, Learning About Racism, “…a distinction must be made between the negative racial attitudes held by individuals of color and white individuals, because it is only the attitudes of whites that routinely carry with them the social power inherent in the systematic cultural reinforcement and institutionalization of those racial prejudices…The distinction is important, however, to identify the power differential between members of dominant and subordinate groups”.
16 What is Racism?Before we expand our definition of racism further, let’s look at what racism isn’t.
17 What Racism Isn’t Racism Should Not Be Confused With: Prejudice: A prejudice is a negative attitude toward a group and anyone perceived to be a member of that group; a predisposition to negative behavior toward members of a groupBigotry: Hatred of a group an members of that groupBias: A preference or inclination favorable or unfavorable that inhibits impartial judgmentStereotype: A negative (or sometime positive) trait or traits associated with a certain group and any members of that group.
18 Racism: A BreakdownWe are clear about what differentiates racism from other terms, we will break racism into three types:IndividualCulturalInstitutional
19 Individual RacismIndividual racism is defined as prejudiced attitudes and behavior against others demonstrated whenever someone responds by saying or doing something degrading or harmful about people of another race.Example: A white person calling a Black person a nigger
20 Cultural RacismCultural racism is defined as societal recognition and promotion of activities and contributions of one racial group in preference to others within a multiracial society; the superimposition of history and traditions of one racial group over other racial groups.Example: Teaching history to emphasize the contributions of Europeans over other groups.
21 Institutional RacismInstitutional racism is arguably the most damaging form of racism that exists. Institutional racism is defined as established laws, customs and practices in a society that allow systemic discrimination between people or groups based on skin color.Example: Housing discrimination
22 Institutional Racism: Additional Examples Discriminatory lending practices (car dealerships, mortgages, etc.)Education (segregated schools)Employment (discriminatory hiring practices)Politics (under representation of People of Color in all realms of government)Criminal justice system (the fact that Black people are often given harsher penalties than whites for similar crimes)