In June we made a pledge to stand up and speak out about racism, not just for the near future, but for the long term. Our commitments include being actively anti-racist, combating any systemic racism within 1Rebel, and increasing diversity and representation in the business. You can see our full pledge here.
In addition, we are also educating our staff on racism, bias and privilege, and would like to invite our community to join us. Each month we’ll be focusing on a different area here on the blog, starting at the beginning with what racism is, and moving onto topics such as white privilege, how to have difficult conversations around race, and racism within our prison system and schools.
This is an ongoing series that we hope you find informative and useful, while helping to promote a more rigorous culture of anti-racism amongst us all.
The purpose of this blog is to first understand racism by defining exactly what it is. It’s far easier to combat something we have a really good grasp of.
Racism is prejudice, discrimination, oppression or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalised.
It is not just the belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another. The suffix -ism denotes a distinctive doctrine, theory, system, or practice.
Racism & Prejudice – they are not the same thing.
Racism = A system that results in an unequal distribution of power and unequal treatment on the basis of race, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Prejudice = A conscious or unconscious negative belief about a whole group of people and its individual members.
Now that’s clear, here’s some examples of how prejudice can come to life.
Racist Prejudice – beliefs about inferiority of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC); negative stereotypes, Racist ideas about the behaviour of BIPOC. Ex: “Black people are lazy, or “All Asian people are good at maths”.
Sexist Prejudice – sexist ideas about the intellectual and emotional inferiority of women. Has been used to deprive them on the right to vote or to own property as an example.
Ageist prejudices – Ageism can be directed at both the young and the old. For example, prejudices against young people suggest they are uninformed, ignorant, or impulsive.
Ableist prejudices – prejudicial attitudes about people with disabilities remain common. For instance, some people mistakenly believe that all people with disabilities have caregivers or that disabilities make people weak.
Hetrosexual prejudices – prejudice that denies, denigrates, and stigmatizes any non-heterosexual form of behaviour, identity, relationship, or community.
Prejudice can be conscious or unconscious.
Racism should be thought of as: Prejudice + Power.
Racism can show itself in a number of ways, some specific examples include…
Interpersonal Racism – when a person harasses, excludes, marginalises, discriminates, hates or as at an extreme commits acts of violence towards another racial group based on their own misinformation, stereotyping or prejudice. Ex: social distancing and stigmatisation, unconscious discrimination at work or school, threats or harassment, racial stereotypes > racial prejudice > racial discrimination.
Institutional Racism – Racism that operates through the policies, procedures, and practices of the institutions in our society. Ex: racial profiling by security and police, barriers to employment based on race, stereotyped racial caricatures by institutions and media, unequal treatment in the criminal justice system.
Structural Racism – The cumulative impact of interpersonal and institutional racism within our society creates a system of structural racism. Ex: Disproportionate COVID-19 death rate for Black and Asian people, coupled with disproportionate rates of stop and search, a greater likelihood of arrest and prosecution as a pre-cursor to longer, more punitive prison sentences. Alongside job discrimination, lack of opportunity and barriers to employment due to race. Disproportionate negative media portrayals, together this is a system of structural Racism.
Here is where it can be challenging and uncomfortable: you can be non-racist in your beliefs, but still be complicit in, and benefit from, institutional and structural racism purely because of the colour of your skin.
When thinking about racism, think beyond interpersonal racism, this is just one form that is easy to understand and contextualise. Institutional and structural racism are the larger issues that need to be tackled by people in positions of power, who sadly, are predominantly white. This means they first need to understand then accept the problem exists. Racism is not an issue that can be solved solely by the recipients. Racism is a black issue but a white problem too.
We’ll explore this more in future posts.