Addressing Our Own Internalized Racism
August 26th, 2021 at 2:34 pm
When we think of racism, we think of the direct forms of racial discrimination – the intentionally harmful attitudes and actions that are done in public. But racism isn’t always explicit, in fact, covert racism, which is more subtle or even unintentional, is a much larger part of the problem. This requires us to address our own individual actions and internalized racism when working to dismantle systemic racism.
What Is Internalized Racism
Internalized racism is a form of subconscious, or conscious, negative feelings towards one’s own (oppressed) race / ethnicity. From colorism to sexism, these implicit biases are rooted in the negative societal beliefs that are taught to be accepted as a societal norm.
Examples Of Internalized Racism
The acceptance of a racial hierarchy can be seen in:
- Anglicizing your name.
- Deliberately trying to change your accent.
- Withdrawing from speaking your native language in public.
- Feeling ashamed of family members or friends who can’t speak English.
- Wanting Eurocentric features.
- Treating white and fairer people better than those with darker skin.
- Refusing to date or people within the same race.
- Avoiding cultural celebrations.
The Dangers Of Internalized Racism:
The internalized racism you hold within yourself may not be your fault (social structures, colonialism and the media have taught us to accept these ideologies), but it is your responsibility to unlearn them. It won’t be easy and will require humility, but ignoring these social constructs will only maintain racial supremacy – limiting growth and change for racial injustice and equality. These harmful behaviours and biases also support the division within races, as well as amongst other races, and prevents individuals and racial groups from authentically accepting and loving themselves and their culture.
Questions To Ask Yourself
- “Do I believe in the stereotypes about my own race and am trying to prove that I do not fall into the same group?”
- “Have I participated and contributed in racist conversations directed towards my own race?”
- “Do I only find people of other races beautiful / attractive?”
- “Have I tried to change the way I look or talk in order to fit in with another race?”
How To Combat Internalized Racism
The more we let our actions or words slide, the more we accept them. Instead:
- Educate yourself on your culture / ethnicity.
- Practice self-love towards the way you look and sound.
- Show more interest in your culture’s beliefs, practices, foods and celebrations.
- Speak up against racism towards your own race.
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