Day 6 of 21
Racism is more than just crude words and hateful actions. It is the presence of prejudice combined with power and privilege.
The term “systemic racism” refers to all the discriminatory practices that inhibit opportunity and impact quality of life for people of color.
To dismantle systemic racism, we first need to recognize the many forms it takes. Today, we will examine the four levels at which racism manifests itself: internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural.
Often, we discuss or acknowledge racism only at the interpersonal level. Focusing solely on this level, however, prevents us from seeing the full framework that keeps the system of racism in place.
Image Source: Emmanuel Gospel Center
Change requires an awareness of all the levels of racism; a collective will to address oppression by people, organizations, and systems; and proactive strategies to break down barriers that have been built up over centuries.
It is no longer enough to be “not racist.” Instead, we should strive to be “anti-racist” and consciously work to change behaviors and attitudes, rebuild equitable and inclusive systems, and provide equal opportunities for all people.
- Identify the four levels of racism.
- Compare interpersonal racism with systemic racism.
- Understand what it means to be anti-racist.
Choose one or more of these daily activities to learn about today’s topic. Plan to set aside 15 to 30 minutes to complete the activities and journal about your thoughts and feelings.
Read “Being Antiracist” (10 min) from the National Museum of African American History & Culture, which describes the four types of racism and highlights ways to be anti-racist at each level.
Watch “Systemic Racism Explained” (4:23) from act.tv for a closer look at how systemic racism affects every area of life in the United States — including housing, education, and employment.
Listen to “‘Not Racist’ is Not Enough: Putting In the Work to Be Anti-Racist” (21:00) from NPR’s LIFE KIT podcast to learn about how racism is embedded in our culture and how we can undo systemic racism.
Note: If you prefer, you can read the transcript rather than listening to the audio file.
Capture what you learned by writing down your thoughts and feelings about today's content.
- What was your “aha moment” (moment of surprise or new information)?
- Does this information change your perspective?
- How will you use what you learned today to create more equitable spaces?
- How does race impact you on a daily basis? How does it impact others?
- How have recent racially charged events in the news impacted your understanding of racism?
Download a free journal page for today.
Additional Resources & Activities
If you would like to dig deeper into this issue, check out these additional resources. We encourage you to revisit this material when you have more time. Feel free to come back to this topic as often as you’d like!
- Explore the Racial Equity Tools website, which includes a comprehensive resource guide about specific types of racism — including anti-blackness, cultural racism, institutional racism, and interpersonal racism.
- Check out the book “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” (256 pages) by Emmanuel Acho, who takes on all the questions — large and small, insensitive and taboo — that many white Americans are afraid to ask.
- Check out the book “How to Be Antiracist” (320 pages) by Ibram X. Kendi, which discusses concepts of racism and Kendi's proposals for anti-racist individual actions and systemic changes.
- Read “Undoing racism - By Design” (3 min) from the Interaction Institute for Social Change, which gives an overview of the four levels of racism and the need for a systemic approach to addressing oppression.
- Read “The 4 Prominent Layers of Racism” (5 min) by Petiri Ira to take a deep dive into how racism shows up in different areas of life.
- Read “5 Examples of Institutional Racism in the United States” (8 min) from ThoughtCo to see examples related to wealth, health care, and criminal justice.
- Watch the TEDTalk “Unpacking My Baggage: Re-framing Racial Identity” (2:47) by Abbi Van Hook to understand how race is more complex than you might initially believe.
- Watch “Moving the Race Conversation Forward” (4:38) from the Center for Racial Justice Innovation to learn about the different levels of racism and the importance of looking at systemic, not simply individual, racism.
- Watch the TED Talk “Allegories on Race and Racism” (20:31) by Dr. Camara Jones to hear four short stories that can help us understand privilege and racism.
Share your reflections on today’s topic on social media using the hashtag #IowaEquityChallenge.
Next Topic: Learning Disparities
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