This guide attempts to provide general information and a starting point to learn about anti-racism, inclusion, and privilege, as well as provide knowledge and resources. This guide is by no means captures all of the many facets of the larger conversations about the issues listed here.
The Thomas University community is welcome to suggest resources, guides, or any other information relevant to this guide by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use these Subject Headings to search for books and articles in the TU Library and GALILEO databases.
Relevant Subject Headings:
Racism -- United States
United States -- Race relations
Race discrimination -- Political aspects -- United States
Racism -- Political aspects -- United States
Multiculturalism -- United States
What is Racism?
Racism is prejudice plus power; anyone of any race can have/exhibit racial prejudice, but in North America, white people have the institutional power, therefore Racism is a systematized discrimination or antagonism directed against people of color based on the belief that whiteness is superior. It is insidious, systemic, devastating, and integral to understanding both the history of the United States and the everyday experiences of those of us living in this country.
Note: A common, incorrect definition of racism is the colloquial definition: “racism is prejudice against someone based on their skin color or ethnicity and can be committed by anyone.” This is NOT an accurate definition nor the one used in most anti-racist circles. It highlights individuals' thinking and actions but ignores embedded institutional and cultural systems.
Colorblindness is the racial ideology that posits the best way to end discrimination is by treating individuals as equally as possible, without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity. This not only amounts to a dismissal of the lived experiences of people of color, but also suggests that racism does not exist so long as one ignores it.
I don't see color. I just see people.
We're all just people.
I don't care if you're black, white, green, or purple-polka-dotted!
Racial Microaggressions are commonplace verbal or behavioral indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults in relation to race. They are structurally based and invoke oppressive systems of racial hierarchy. Racial Microinvalidations, Microinsults, Microassaults are specific types of microaggressions.
Note: The prefix “micro” is used because these are invocations of racial hierarchy at the individual level (person to person), where as the "macro" level refers to aggressions committed by structures as a whole (e.g. an organizational policy). "Micro" in no way minimalizes or otherwise evaluates the impact or seriousness of the aggressions.
Tokenism is presence without meaningful participation. For example, a superficial invitation for participation without ongoing dialogue and support, handpicked representatives who are expected to speak for the whole (socially oppressed) group (e.g. ‘tell us how women experience this issue’). Tokenism is often used as a band-aid solution to help the group improve its image (e.g. ‘we’re not racist, look there’s a person of colour on the panel.’). (from Sustainable Campuses)
Similarly, this attitude of "one is enough/they're all the same" contributes to the mindset that one person of color or one Native person can stand in for all people of color and Native people respectively. Not only is it problematic and illogical to assume that one individual's perspective and experiences can be generalized to millions of other people, it also promotes to the idea that a friendship, relationship, or just exposure to one or a few people of color or Native people negates racist thoughts, ideas, or behavior toward others (i.e. "I'm not a racist, my boyfriend is black" or "My costume isn't racist--my best friend is First Nation and she thinks it's hilarious").
What is Anti-Racism?
Anti-Racism is strategies, theories, actions, and practices that challenge and counter racism, inequalities, prejudices, and discrimination based on race.
Defining White Privilege
In the U.S., white privilege is the lived experience of greater social/political access, representation and entitlement, and material and economic security that people considered white have as a result of white supremacy. It's important to note that while many white people are oppressed on the basis of class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, culture, ethnicity, etc, it is still true that ALL white people benefit from white privilege in various ways.