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Definition of Systemic Racism in Sociology

Rooted in a racist foundation, systemic racism today is composed of intersecting, overlapping, and codependent racist institutions, policies, practices, ideas, and behaviors that give an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to people of color. Feagin illustrates that the legal recognition of racialized slavery is a cornerstone of a racist social system in which resources and rights were and are unjustly given to white people and unjustly denied to people of color.

The theory of systemic racism accounts for individual, institutional, and structural forms of racism.

Race, Racism and Social Work

The development of this theory was influenced by other scholars of race, including Frederick Douglass, W. While Feagin developed the theory based on the history and reality of anti-black racism in the U. Elaborating on the definition quoted above, Feagin uses historical data in his book to illustrate that systemic racism is primarily composed of seven major elements, which we will review here. Feagin explains that the undeserved impoverishment of people of color POC , which is the basis of the undeserved enrichment of white people, is one of the core aspects of systemic racism.

In the U.

Beyond Prejudice and Micro-Agressions

It also includes the way white people exploited labor throughout the European colonies prior to the founding of the United States. These historical practices created a social system that had racist economic inequality built into its foundation and was followed through the years in numerous ways, like the practice of " redlining " that prevented POC from buying homes that would allow their family wealth to grow while protecting and stewarding the family wealth of white people. There is no more telling proof of the undeserved impoverishment of POC and the undeserved enrichment of white people than the massive difference in average wealth of white versus Black and Latino families.

PSS100 Week 05: Race racism and ethnicity

Within a racist society, white people enjoy many privileges denied to POC. This manifests in support among white people for political candidates who are white, and for laws and political and economic policies that work to reproduce a social system that is racist and has racist outcomes.

In cases like these, white people in power and ordinary white people have suggested that programs like these are "hostile" or examples of " reverse racism. A look at the membership of Congress, the leadership of colleges and universities, and the top management of corporations makes this clear. In this context, in which white people hold political, economic, cultural , and social power, the racist views and assumptions that course through U. This leads to a serious and well-documented problem of routine discrimination in all areas of life, and the frequent dehumanization and marginalization of POC, including hate crimes , which serves to alienate them from society and hurt their overall life chances.

In his book, Feagin points out with historical documentation that the costs and burdens of racism are disproportionately borne by people of color and by black people especially. Having to bear these unjust costs and burdens is a core aspect of systemic racism.


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While all white people and even many POC play a part in perpetuating systemic racism, it is important to recognize the powerful role played by white elites in maintaining this system. White elites, often unconsciously, work to perpetuate systemic racism via politics, law, educational institutions, the economy, and via racist representations and underrepresentation of people of color in mass media.

This is also known as white supremacy. For this reason, it is important that the public hold white elites accountable for combatting racism and fostering equality. He is co-editor of Critical and Radical Social Work, launching in She has taught in Higher Education for over 20 years. Her first post was at the University of Central Lancashire ; she then moved to the University of Manchester , before joining Liverpool Hope University in September, Institutionalised Islamophobia and the 'Prevent' agenda: 'winning hearts and minds' or welfare as surveillance and control?

Internalized racism

Twenty-first century eugenics? By Sheila Furness and Philip Gilligan. Edited by Charlotte Williams and Mekada J. Policy Press uses cookies on this website.

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Internalized racism - Wikipedia

Publishing with a Purpose. Published 30 Dec Page count pages. Description Reviews Author Contents Without a doubt, structural and institutionalised racism is still present in Britain and Europe, a factor that social work education and training has been slow to acknowledge. Iain Ferguson, Professor of Social Work and Social Policy, University of the West of Scotland "This book, which is currently needed more than ever, offers a valuable new generation of critical thinking about race, racism and social work.