There is a major conversation happening globally between those affected by racism and those with the privilege not to be affected. The latter have an opportunity and a responsibility to learn about it.
If you’re white, this work might feel uncomfortable. It’s supposed to. It forces you to confront systems you might have once thought were fair and just, that have allowed you to get ahead in the world, only to now realize that this has come at the cost of non-white lives.
Canada is not immune to racism. Though this has always been clear, the pandemic has demonstrated very visibly to Canadians that people of colour are disproportionately impacted. And beyond the current crisis, police brutality and surveillance disproportionately impact Black Canadians, and many other manifestations of systemic anti-Black racism are very much alive north of the border.
If you’re looking for a place to begin engaging in anti-racism work, here are 8 key terms you might have heard throughout the global conversation on racism, and what they mean.
BIPOC is an acronym for ‘Black, Indigenous, People of Colour,’ it is meant to unite all people of colour in the work for liberation while intentionally acknowledging that not all people of colour face the same levels of injustice.
Source: Sunrise Movement
Implicit or unconscious bias
This refers to the unconscious attribution of particular qualities to a member of a certain social group. Shaped by experience and based on learned associations between particular qualities and social categories, including race and/or gender. Individuals’ perceptions and behaviours can be influenced by the implicit stereotypes they hold, even if they are unaware/unintentionally hold such stereotypes.
Resource: Take Harvard University’s Implicit Association Test
Institutional racism occurs within and between institutions (schools, mass media, etc.). Includes discriminatory treatment, unfair policies, and inequitable opportunities and impacts, based on race. Individuals within institutions take on the power of the institution when they act in ways that advantage and disadvantage people, based on race.
Source: Racial Equity Tools
Resource: Watch this video from TMI Consulting
This kind of racism lies underneath, all around and across society. It encompasses (1) history, providing the foundation for white supremacy; (2) culture, providing the normalization and replication of racism, and (3) interconnected institutions and policies providing the legitimacy and reinforcements to maintain and perpetuate racism.
Source: Racial Equity Tools
Systemic racism includes the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups. No individual intent is necessary.
Source: Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre
Systems of oppression
This refers to discriminatory institutions, structures, norms, to name a few, that are embedded in the fabric of our society. Upheld by the various societal institutions such as culture, government, education, etc., are all complicit in the oppression of marginalized social groups while elevating dominant social groups.
Source: Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group
Coined in 2011 by Robin DiAngelo, author of “White Fragility; Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism,” white fragility is defined as “discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice.”
Source: Oxford Dictionary
White privilege refers to the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally, white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.
Source: Racial Equity Resource Guide
And here are some more resources to continue dismantling racism in your individual or organizational work.
- The Government of Canada’s list of anti-racism resources.
- CommunityWise anti-racism resources and tools for non-profit organizations.
- How business leaders can take anti-racist action now. (Note: this article was written from an American perspective, but we believe it’s relevant for Canadian business leaders, too.)
- A Twitter thread breaking down potential solutions for ending racist police brutality.
- Twelve percent of non-profit board members in Canada are visible minorities. Here’s what you can do about that.
- A template for holding your employer accountable for racial justice.
- A list of Canadian Black and anti-racist organizations to consider donating to or supporting.
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