Racism. Whether we like to admit it or not, racism exists. There are three levels of racism that exist: institutionalized, person mediated, and internalized. What’s even harder to accept is that everyone participates – whether it’s intentional or unintentional and whether it’s from the victim or the perpetrator. Racism is common in today’s world. People think that race is about biology, but race has nothing to do with biology. It’s an idea that society has ascribed to biology. In reality, one race is not biologically better than the other. In fact, humans are the most genetically similar population. Less than 0.1% of race is explained by genetics. So if racial differences cannot be attributed to biology, what causes the differences between different races? This question can be answered by examining the three different types of racism.
The first form of racism is institutionalized racism. This is what creates the structural barriers in our world. This type of racism is inaction in the face of need. It’s different access to health care, food, transportation etc. It can be seen in different laws that are implemented. It can also be seen in the workforce with different employment benefits and opportunities. Institutionalized racism is the most fundamental level of racism. Once the structures are fixed, the other forms of racism can be cured over time. This form of racism was initiated by historical events and times periods, but it is continued by the racism that still occurs in our government, and likewise our institutions.
The second form of racism is person mediated. This is the most common form of racism, and the one that people think of when they think of racism. This form of racism is what maintains structural barriers because it involved acts of prejudice and discrimination. It’s making different assumptions about a person’s abilities and motives based on their race. It’s also giving differential treatment based on someone’s race. This form of racism can be intentional and unintentional. For example, it can be purse clutching, street crossing, or not sitting when there are empty seats next to someone of a different race than you. They can also be acts of omission or commission. It can be showing suspicion, avoidance, lack of respect, giving poor service, and many other prejudicial actions. This form of racism is one that we are all most likely guilty of without realizing it. We need to be careful not to make assumptions about different races and ensure that our actions are not one of discrimination.
The last form of racism is internalized. This is when the stigmatized race believes what society has assumed about them, and they act according to the stigma around them. Races accept the limitations placed on them by others and do not believe in themselves. For example, its’ deciding that you aren’t going to apply for certain job because as a minority you don’t believe you are good enough to get it. It is this form of racism that allows the person mediated racism and institutionalized racism to flourish. It destroys an individual’s sense of value and undermines collective action. It reflects systems of privilege and societal values. Social differences and the environment have a heavy impact on the health status and well-being of difference races. Racial differences have little to do with biology, but more to do with the social stigma and differences that surround these different races. Understanding the different forms of racism can really help us a whole to eliminate racism.