The Standard Definition of Racism TM

Racism “Is when social policies, procedures, decisions, habits and acts do in fact subjugate a race of people and permit another race to maintain control over them . . Racism involves having the power to carry out systematic discriminatory practices through the major institutions of our society. Any attitude, action or institutional structure which subordinates a person or group because of their color . . . Racism is not just a matter of attitudes; actions and institutional structures can also be a form of racism.”(source)

Race is an important topic in American policy today. We see many tragedies occur due in part or in whole to racial injustice.

1943_Colored_Waiting_Room_Sign.jpgImage Credit: Esther Bubley

It’s pretty obvious that black people are treated differently in this country.

Racism is the cause of our subjugation and the subject of our attack.

Racism is about control. Racism “permit[s] another race to maintain control…”. Control can be defined as authority, direction, charge, government, jurisdiction, management. If you look at the majority of positions of power in this company –CEOS, Judges, Congressmen, business Owners, managers– you will overwhelmingly see white faces.


Racism involves power. It is about having the power to systematically carry out racist practices- To systematically do anything you need a system –one like our education, government, police, housing or banking systems. The arrangements of our society help us to classify needs and get things done. But they also perpetuate racism when we are not carefully aware of how racism operates.

Image Credit Ivy969 

The complexity, and conformity of a system make it easy for racism to replicate itself. It takes the coordination of the system- paperwork, filing, communications, goals, planning and budgets– to make sure racism slips into the fine print of our community initiatives and planning, to make sure racism enters our thoughts, hearts and lives. Racism turns our own bureaucracy against us. Racism becomes instituted in the system through attitudes, habits and decisions.


Any attitude– including ones that dismiss Racism as unimportant, non-existent, or not problematic– is a form of racism. Attitudes and thought patterns are just as problematic as institutional structures. Defeating Racism is especially a matter of these structures but it is also about reaching hearts and minds.

Image Credit Fibonocci Blue

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