…“race is the child of racism, not the father. And the naming of “the people” has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy.”
—Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the world and me, 2015
“Racism (noun); Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”; “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”
Central in racism not the notion of race, but the belief in superior and inferior human groups based on appearance. Racism as a mechanism is essentially about the unequal distribution of power and is not about the definition of ‘race’ (which is a false category in itself). Therefore nowadays we can call things racism that deal with the labels of race and skincolor (black, white, brown, yellow, red, etc), ethnicity (Allochtoon, Autochtoon, Native), nationality/region (Mexicans, Oriental, Middle-Eastern) and religion (Muslim, Sikh).
Levels of racism
As a part of the project “Moving the Race Conversation forward” by Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, hiphop radio show host Jay Smooth explains in this video that there are 4 types of racism.
1. Internalized Racism: all the prejudice, bias and blind spots which you might have within yourself as an individual
2. Interpersonal Racism: when we act out that internalized racism on each other.
3. Institutionalized Racism (institutions and systems of power): racist policies and discriminatory practices in schools and work places and governement agencies that routinely produce unjust outcomes for people of color.
4. Structural Racism: the unjust patterns and practices that play out across the institutions that make up our society
Institutional racism describes any kind of system of inequality based on race. It can occur in institutions such as public government bodies, private business corporations (such as media outlets), and universities (public and private). The term was introduced by Black Power activists Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton in the late 1960s. The definition given by William Macpherson within the report looking into the death of Stephen Lawrence was “the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin”.
“Als ik het heb over racisme in Nederland dan bedoel ik daarmee niet dat mensen individueel bewust racisten zijn[…] We hebben te maken met institutioneel racisme, wat cultureel is ingebed in onze maatschappelijke DNA. Maar als je het hebt over het zogenaamde ‘gepeupel’ dat achter Wilders aanloopt, hun racisme is iets platter, iets minder subtiel dan het racisme van Hans Spekman (voorzitter PvdA, red.) bijvoorbeeld. […] In 2008 zei hij: “We moeten Marokkanen die niet willen deugen vernederen voor hun eigen mensen.” Dat vind ik een walgelijk uitspraak. Waarom zijn ‘die Marokkanen’ niet onze eigen mensen? Hij plaatst ze buiten het Nederlanderschap, met zo’n uitspraak.”
Historicus Zihni Özdil (32) in De Correspondent
From Atlanta Blackstar comes this definition of Scientific Racism: The modern biological definition of race developed in the 19th century with scientific racist theories. The term scientific racism refers to the use of science to justify and support racist beliefs, which goes back to the early 18th century, though it gained most of its influence in the mid-19th century, during the New Imperialism period.
Such theories sought to overcome the Church’s resistance to positivist accounts of history and its support of monogenism, the concept that all human beings were originated from the same ancestors, in accordance with creationist accounts of history.
These racist, pseudo-scientific approaches were combined with theories of social progress, which postulated the superiority of the European civilization over the rest of the world.
The relation between slavery and racism.
From the same post by the Atlanta Black Star:
“Just as the slaveholders of ancient Greece and Rome created an ideology that their barbaric slave system was “natural,” so did the European and Arab enslavers of the Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Saharan slave trades. There was one important difference. According to them, slavery was “natural” because of race. Africans were not human beings, and, therefore, they were born to be enslaved.
Historian Eric Williams writes in his book Capitalism and Slavery, “Slavery was not born of racism; rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.”
Marxist writer CLR James wrote, “The conception of dividing people by race begins with the slave trade. This thing was so shocking, so opposed to all the conceptions of society which religion and philosophers had … that the only justification by which humanity could face it was to divide people into races and decide that the Africans were an inferior race.”