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.
Non-white folks can be agents of racism as well (particularly when acting as representatives of white-dominated systems) by perpetuating the notion of white superiority and using it to discriminate against other people of color. For example, a black manager at a company may insist that a black employee's natural hair color looks "unprofessional," or an Asian professor may knock points off the presentation grade of a Latinx student who speaks with an accent.
Adapted from Simmons Anti-Racism LibGuide.
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (2005) and adapted by Ellen Tuzzolo (2016)
HOW TO BE AN ALLY
The Guide to Allyship | An open source starter guide to help you become a more thoughtful and effective ally.
What is Performative Allyship? | "Being an ally means being able to engage, being able to act, and being able to listen." This is why it is so important to be more than a *performative* ally.
There Is No Such Thing as a ‘White Ally’ by Catherine Pugh. Chapter 1 of the “There Is No Such Thing as a ‘White Ally’” series.
Get involved – SURJ (Showing up for Racial Justice) | SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and to work for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability.