At The Food Shop, we are doing what we can to educate ourselves about racism so that we can stand with the black community and fight against injustice. We think that it is especially important to define and highlight the different forms of racism that are present in our society. Understanding how racism manifests on an individual and systemic level can give us a better understanding of how we have contributed to it and how we can combat it.
Individual racism refers to one’s racist assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors that unconsciously or consciously perpetuate racism. This may take form overtly through stereotypes and racist comments and behaviors, but it can also take the form of microaggressions, which are every day, subtle interactions that demonstrate bias toward marginalized groups. Microaggressions are not always intentional or overt, but they perpetuate racist stigmas. A common example would be when non-black people pass a black man on the street and grab their wallets or purses. This act may not even be intentional, but it perpetuates the harmful stigma that black men are dangerous. This is only one example. It’s important that we all examine our behaviors and stay aware of our actions.
Systemic racism refers to the practices and policies of institutions that result in the exclusion or promotion of certain groups. The term systemic shouldn’t be confused with the term systematic. Systematic racism refers to practices that discriminate on the basis of race and has synonyms like methodical, whereas systemic racism refers to discriminatory qualities inherent to the system itself and has synonyms like pervasive and ingrained. This makes systemic racism uniquely difficult to solve because it requires us to reexamine and restructure our systems.
Systemic racism manifests in institutional racism and structural racism. Institutional racism refers to the discriminatory treatment, inequitable opportunities, and unfair policies that are created and perpetuated by various institutions like schools, and structural racism refers to the unjust practices across institutions and history that routinely produce adverse outcomes for people of color. These forms of racism are ingrained in our society, and change is needed on every level.
In our next blog post, we will highlight some texts and films that we have been reading and watching to further educate ourselves about how racism has manifested in our country, and we hope you join us in learning.