Internalized Racism


Donna Bivens provides this definition of internalized racism in her chapter on “What is Internalized Racism?” from Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building: "As people of color are victimized by racism, we internalize it. That is, we develop ideas, beliefs, actions and behaviors that support or collude with racism. This internalized racism has its own systemic reality and its own negative consequences in the lives and communities of people of color. More than just a consequence of racism, then, internalized racism is a systemic oppression in reaction to racism that has a life of its own. In other words, just as there is a system in place that reinforces the power and expands the privilege of white people, there is a system in place that actively discourages and undermines the power of people and communities of color and mires us in our own oppression..."

“…Because race is a social and political construct that comes out of particular histories of domination and exploitation between Peoples, people of colors' internalized racism often leads to great conflict among and between them as other concepts of power-such as ethnicity, culture, nationality and class-are collapsed in misunderstanding. ... Putting forward this definition of internalized racism that is systemic and structural is not intended to 'blame the victim.' It is meant to point out the unique work that people of color must do within ourselves and our communities to really address racism and white privilege. As experiences of race and structural racism become more confusing, complex and obscured, it is imperative that people of color explore and deepen our understanding of internalized racism. As more anti-racist white people become clearer about whiteness, white privilege... people of color are freed up to look beyond our physical and psychological trauma from racism."




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