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Skip Navigation LinksBy-taking-action-against-racism IT STARTS...By Combatting Racism
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IT STARTS...By Combatting Racism

Racism is the belief that there are human groups with particular (usually physical) characteristics that make them superior or inferior to others. Racist behaviour can be overt, such as treating people differently according to their race or colour, or covert, when society systematically treats groups differently based on some form of discriminating characteristic.

Source:  React to Racism (2017).  What is racism?  Retrieved May 11, 2017 from http://reacttoracism.ca/what-is-racism/

Forms of Racism

Individual or Internalized racism:  This is racism that exists within individuals.  It is when, either knowing it or not, someone has negative ideas about themselves and their race or culture.

Source:  Myers, A. & Ogino, Y. (n.d.).  Power, privilege, and oppression.  Retrieved May 11, 2017 from http://www.scrippscollege.edu/xbk/wp-content/uploads/sites/35/files/Power-Privilege-and-Oppression.pdf


  • Skin lightening, wearing coloured contact lenses.  The individual believes that life would be better if they acted, looked, or spoke more like the dominant culture.

    Interpersonal racism:  This is racism that exists between individuals.  It is the holding of negative attitudes towards a different race or culture.

    Source:  Intergroup Resources (n.d.).  Race and racism.  Retrieved May 11, 2017 from http://www.intergroupresources.com/race-and-racism/

  • Social distancing & stigmatization:  Verbal and non-verbal behaviour that communicate exclusion and/or rejection.
  • Discrimination at work or school:  Stereotypes about competency, honesty, or diligence can block the creation of opportunities for employment or education.
  • Threat & harassment:  Targeted individuals can become victims of verbal and physical assault when the social barriers & protections against attack do not extend to those who are stigmatized.

    Source:  Myers, A. & Ogino, Y. (n.d.).  Power, privilege, and oppression.  Retrieved May 11, 2017 from http://www.scrippscollege.edu/xbk/wp-content/uploads/sites/35/files/Power-Privilege-and-Oppression.pdf

    Systemic or Institutional racism:  This is racism that exists within social institutions (such as governmental organizations, schools, banks, and courts of law).  It is the giving of negative treatment to a group of people based on their race.

Source: Chegg Study (n.d.).  Institutional racism.  Retrieved May 11, 2017 from http://www.chegg.com/homework-help/definitions/institutional-racism-49


  • Through the hiring process, employers may state they are looking for the "right fit." The "right fit" may tend to resemble the rest of the staff they have already hired.  This may send a message about the diminished value of diversity within an organization or lack of interest to hire anyone outside of the dominant culture. 

    Source:  Hugher, R.L. (2014).  10 signs of institutional racism.  Retrieved May 9, 2017 from http://diverseeducation.com/article/64583/

How to take safe and purposeful action

Examples of taking action against racism:

  • Interrupt offensive jokes or stories and say you don't want to hear them.
  • Speak up when you witness discrimination against others.
  • Offer support to the victim. Listen carefully and respect confidentiality.
  • Speak up or seek help when you experience discrimination.  Recognize that some situations are best addressed publicly and others privately.
  • Become involved and work with others. Anti-racism is everyone's responsibility.
  • Encourage work and study environments to be places where diversity is valued.
  • Discuss issues of inclusion and diversity with children, youth, and adults.
  • Educate yourself about human rights.
  • Be aware of how your actions might intentionally or unintentionally affect others.
  • Think critically about the language that you use.
  • Be sensitive to other's feelings.
  • Question the validity of generalized statements.

Source:  Carleton University Equity Services (2017).  Take action against racism.  Retrieved May 5, 2017 from https://carleton.ca/equity/human-rights/racism/take-action-against-racism/


Confronting racist or derogatory comments can be challenging.  Explore safely how to confront a racist with cultural commentator Jay Smooth:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc

Learn about the Ontario Human Rights Code that provides for equal rights, opportunities, and freedom from discrimination.  The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) provides support for individuals and organizations to identify and address racism and discrimination:  http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/racial-discrimination-brochure.  Brochure also available for download.

Dr. Camara Jones shares four allegories on "race" and racism at a local TEDx event.  Through telling stories foundational knowledge on these concepts is explored and individuals are empowered to act against racism. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNhcY6fTyBM