Under the category ‘intersectional feminism‘ I would like to write about all forms of oppression. Starting that category, I wrote something about intersectional feminism in general. After that it was time to write something about the general forms of oppression within intersectional feminism. The first subject I wrote about was ableism. Now it’s time to cover another category: racism.
It feels kind of weird writing this down, as I feel that everybody in the whole world knows what racism is. But, it is actually quite hard to define. I will write down the definitions I found and think are most logical. After that we can elaborate on the subject further. So, here’s the definition of racism, according to the Camebridge dictionary:
Harmful or unfair things that people say, do, or think based on the belief that their own race makes them more intelligent, good, moral, etc. than people of other races.Camebridge Dictionary
The next question that comes to mind is: what is race? In the end we’re all the same, there’s only one human race that survived. We have one human race, homo sapiens. Defining race is quite difficult and if I look at the dictionary, I find multiple definition. The one that I understand best is this one:
The idea that people can be divided into different groups based on physical characteristics that they are perceived to share such as skin colour, eye shape, etc., or the dividing of people in this way.Camebridge Dictionary
What I find very interesting is that race is an idea. It’s a construct. It’s not based on biology, as the definition says. Race is a social construct. Society has come up with different races. So following biology, we’re all the same humans. All homo sapiens, all one human race. However, within that human race we have physical characteristics that differ across regions and cultures. Racism is based on those physical appearances. And don’t get me wrong here, because I don’t mean to say that racism is not real. It is very real. Racism is a huge problem, unfortunately.
Types of Racism
There are many types of racism. When we think of racism, we usually think of someone who is very openly racist. People who do not make this a secret. However, from what I’ve learned the past years is that that’s usually not what all racism looks like. Yes, there are openly racist people. And those people should be educated and are dangerous. However, it’s by far not the only type of racism.
Racism can be very explicit and very hard to point out. Think of children of color in the Netherland, who often get appointed to a lower education level than they deserve. Or people wearing a hijab getting checked way more often in an airport. Everyday racism that in itself might not look racist, but when it’s looked at from a broader view, it is actually racism. But don’t think of racism as a small problem because it includes small elements. We have structural, institutional racism in The Netherlands.
What’s important to remember is that racism does not only affect people of color. From what I know it usually affects minorities in a certain country. In the Netherlands this is anyone who is not white. So also Asian people, people from the Middle-East, Jewish people, etc. are also affected by racism.
History of Racism
Racism has a very long history. But as I’m not an historian, I don’t think I’m the right person to tell you more about this. I might forget important things or give wrong information. I recommend you to dive into this subject yourself and ask experts about this.
What’s always important to remember when it comes to discrimination, is that it’s intersectional. Meaning that all oppression is related. A black man might experience racism, but a black women may also also be subject to sexism. A disabled black women also has to deal with ableism. Read more about that in the post I wrote about intersectional feminism.
knowledge is power
This post is the base-post of the category ‘racism’ on this blog. I’ve explained what it is. Next posts are all posts which are either about different subjects within racism, like racism within art, racism within sports or blackface. I will share more about the different layers of racism, so that we as white people can learn more about it and do better.
I will also share sources of information about racism. Of course I am not an expert when it comes to racism. I have the privilege that I have never experienced it myself. Therefore, it’s important to listen to people who actually experience racism. That’s why I share sources from people who do have this experience. And lastly, I will also write about solutions. About how we should change our language, which organizations we should donate to, etc.