We get a lot of folks wanting to learn more about racism, but want to make sure the resource is legitimate and easy to understand. We have also seen a trend of shaming others for not knowing. We do not believe this is the way to creating positive changes. Here are some common terms to help you understand and become an ally. We use these definitions in our school presentations so they are easy to understand!
Before you understand racism, you need to understand race. But what is race? We sometimes hear people say race is a social construct, but what does that mean?
► Race has no basis in biological reality, therefore has no meaning independent of its social definitions. There is no gene or cluster of genes common to all blacks or all whites. Were race “real” in the genetic sense, racial classifications for individuals would remain constant across boundaries. Yet, a person who could be categorized as black in the United States might be considered white in Brazil or coloured in South Africa
►Although race is socially constructed, it significantly affects the lives of people of colour and Indigenous people, particularly in the West.
►The concept of race was created to establish a hierarchy in society.
Here is a great video that further explains this.
We often hear politicians say racism is about ignorance. But it's not just about social attitudes. Instead racism is:
►A system in which one group of people exercises power over another on the basis of race.
►A set of beliefs, false assumptions, and actions based on an ideology of the inherent superiority of one racial group over another.
►Consists of policies and practices, rooted in established institutions, that result in the exclusion or advancement of specific groups of people. Ex - discriminatory laws, residential segregation, poor health care, inferior education, unequal economic opportunity and the exclusion and distortion of the perspectives of non-dominant Canadians.
This is a term we don't hear very often. But it's incredibly important. And even more so, it's important to understand the difference between racism and racial discrimination:
►Racial discrimination can happen to anyone who is discriminated against based on their race and is usually an individual act. Racism is more persistent as it is not only an individual behaviour or act, but a way of thinking and is institutionalized/inherent in Canada.
►In Canada, anyone can experience racial discrimination but only people of colour and Indigenous people can experience racism.
We hear the word privilege be thrown around often, especially white privilege, but many people don't understand how they themselves are privileged.
►Refers to gaining benefits, advantages, and rights by default at the expense of others, because one belongs to the perceived “us,” “normal” or “natural” state of the “mainstream” and/or dominant culture.
►Privilege is not visible to its holder; it is merely there, a part of the world, a way of life, simply the way things are.
Here is a great exercise that explains white privilege.
Microaggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups. Here is a comic book we made about daily racial microaggressions. As well, here is a great video that further explains microaggressions.
Do you know we all have bias? We create them from a young age to navigate the world. But what is a bias?
►A subjective opinion, preference, prejudice or inclination, often formed without reasonable justification, that influences an individual’s or group’s ability to evaluate a particular situation objectively or accurately.
►You can be aware or unaware of it.
Here is a great video on racial bias (note: there is a swear word in it, used once)
Stereotypes and Generalizations
We've heard many growing up, whether they are positive or negative, they contribute to a dysfunctional class system.
►A preconceived overgeneralization of a group of people, ascribing the same characteristics to all members of the group, regardless of their individual differences.
►Most of us fit into different categories and have a variety of interests. We might like watching sports but be non-athletic. We might like rap as well as classical music. But when we think about other people, particularly people who are a different race from us, we often have a harder time understanding that complexity. So we put people into categories and thus – stereotypes are formed.
This term is thrown around a lot. It's essentially how oppressive systems are linked together
►The experience of the interconnected nature of identities, and the way they are embedded within existing systems such that they define how one is valued.
►In other words, the interconnected nature of all forms of oppression against particular groups.
Now that you are aware of all this, how can you be an ally? It's important to understand the difference between and Ally and an Advocate.
►Supporting a cause that directly relates to you or affects you.
►Speaks out and takes action for change.
►Listens, supports and advocates, but is not in the spotlight or the loudest voice. Stands with and not in front of.
►How to be an ally:
■Understand your privilege
■Listen and do your homework
■Speak up, not over
■Apologize when you make mistakes
■Ally is a VERB
Want to learn more about racism?