The four levels of racism

At the bottom of the pyramid we have personal racism, sometimes called internalized racism. That’s the collection of prejudices and beliefs that every human being has, whether they are aware of it or not. It includes the feelings of superiority or inferiority, entitlement or exclusion, that are handed to each of us through our culture, upbringing and experience.

At the next level is interpersonal racism, which is the words and deeds of racist individuals. This is where that personal racism bubbles into the world in the form of bias, bigotry, or deliberate abuse. When racism is discussed, especially in the media, it is almost always at this level. When people say they aren’t racist, they usually mean interpersonal racism. This is racism at its most visible, so it’s not surprising that it gets the most attention – but if this is as far as our understanding goes, it won’t get anywhere near solving the problem.

Moving outwards, we come to institutional racism. This is where racial inequality gets locked into the processes of institutions, such as the police, schools or healthcare. It’s not expressed in words and actions here, but in policies or practices that treat people differently, even if that’s entirely unintentional. Racism at this level is more visible in statistics than in words or actions. We can point to a statistical fact and

— source earthbound.report | Jeremy Williams | Dec 9, 2020

Nullius in verba


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