As we accept the challenge to lift every voice1 to advance racial equity, it is critically important that we have a shared understanding of the issues at hand and the barriers we face. From elitism and credentialism (belief in or reliance on academic or other formal qualifications as the best measure of a person's intelligence or ability to do a particular job) to alienation and whataboutism (the technique or practice of responding to an accusation or difficult question by making a counteraccusation or raising a different issue to diffuse/undermine the issue at hand), we must embrace a common language to define our framework on racial equity and racism (any program or practice of discrimination, segregation, persecution, or mistreatment based on membership in a race or ethnic group [Delgado & Stefanic, 2001]).
The Government Alliance on Race and Equity provides the following working definitions of racial equity and three levels of racism, while Williams & Williams-Morris (2000) offer us a working definition of internalized racism.
Racial Equity: When race can’t be used to predict success, and we have successful systems and structures that work for everyone.
Internalized Racism: Acceptance by marginalized racial populations of the negative societal beliefs and stereotypes about themselves.
Individual/Interpersonal Racism: Pre-judgement, bias (implicit and explicit), or other discrimination by an individual based on race.
Institutional Racism: Policies, practices, and procedures that work better for white people than people of color, at times inadvertently.
Structural Racism: Encompasses a history and current reality of institutional racism across all institutions combining to create a system that negatively impacts communities of color.
Let’s embrace this framework to advance racial equity and equity for everyone!
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