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Un-Fair Campaign: A useful (and accurate) definition of RACISM

un-fair campaign poster white privilege

un-fair campaign poster white privilege

As many of you may know, I blog often about racism, prejudice and white privilege.  Recently, there was some debate from the blogging community about what RACISM really is, so I wanted to clarify the definition just a little bit…or at least start to.

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Is it as simple as one person not liking another person because of skin color??
NO.  That is prejudice.  

Is Racism the act of an individual preventing someone from getting a job or accessing other opportunities based on their prejudice??
NO.  That is discrimination.

While both prejudice and discrimination play into the system, RACISM is something much BIGGER…it’s a system of unearned privilege and racial supremacy established through colonization and slavery.  It is a system of control that has a deep rooted history in the Americas…a history that I hope to share with you more completely very soon.  It’s a caste system…and it’s many other things too…but it’s not as simple and singular as many may think.  It’s not about saying, “I don’t like X, Y, Z race.”  It’s about something MUCH BIGGER than that.

So what is racism?  Below is a start…an accurate beginning to the vast definition that could be applied.  Thanks to the Un-Fair Campaign for clarifying these!

Definition of Racism, Prejudice and White Privilege

What is prejudice?  The prejudging of a person or situation without sufficient knowledge or facts. Personal and individual beliefs about race that are influenced by the dominant group’s values, practices and beliefs. Anyone can be prejudiced.

What is racism?  Racism is more than individual prejudice based on race.  Racism is the power of a dominant group, through its systems and institutions, to enforce the dominant culture’s history, values, practices and beliefs.  It advantages those in the dominant group and disadvantages those who are not.  It results in disparities.

What is white privilege?  A set of advantages that are given to people who are part of the majority and dominant group.  These opportunities and privileges are often invisible.

~ via the Un-Fair Campaign

*On the definition of white privilege, I also want to point out that one does NOT need to be in the majority to have white privilege…although racism usually operates in this way (rewarding the majority).  There are plenty of countries out there, like Brazil for example, who have a dark majority and a white, privileged upper class.  In majority dark-skinned countries, pale skin is often still at the top of the caste system.  Something to think about, because I hear many individuals exclaim that once we are no longer in the majority, we will lose our privilege.  Unfortunately, this is not entirely accurate.

For those who’ve participated in Ethnic Studies courses, Sociology or even Cultural Anthropology…viewing racism as a social construct and NOT as an individual emotion or action will resonate with you.  I would love to hear the stories of what materials or life experiences moved you to this conclusion.  I want to hear your thoughts and explanations and I also plan to give many of my own in a future post.

Please share…what is your best definition of RACISM?  What factors helped you to recognize the bigger picture?


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  • Maria Adcock
    June 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks for writing out the definitions. I think a lot of people are not aware of the subtle differences and this was informative.

    • Chantilly Patiño
      Chantilly Patiño
      June 30, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks so much Maria. I’m so glad you found it helpful. ♥ Thanks for always taking the time to let me know your thoughts. :)

  • cassandre collazo
    July 11, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Thank goodness I read this article about white privilege. I am a dominican/haitian dark-skinned woman. I have been discriminated against by my people since birth since I am dark-skinned and encouraged to marry white men to improve my race and eradicate my "blackness". Due to our socioeconomic level upon entering this country, my friends were automatically white working class people (horrible!) Since then, I have been married to two blue-collar irish-american men and am now married to a first generation american whose parents are from Norway. Needless to say I have been through many horrific situations and cannot believe how deeply rooted racism and prejudice is in this country. Any advice you can give me to cope in this world and to raise my four beautiful girls (thank God they all favor their father) would be very appreciated.

    • Chantilly Patiño
      Chantilly Pati&ntild
      July 11, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Cassandre, thanks so much for your comment. I've heard this issue quite a lot from friends who've moved from D.R./Haiti and they all say the same thing…race relations and racial privileges are very different here in the U.S. It's so interesting to hear all the stories and then wonder about what it must be like to not have a clear and definitely black/white caste system in that environment. Here, it's very black and white unfortunately and I'm so sorry that this impacts so many who come here.

      You can probably relate to this story… http://www.multiculturalfamilia.com/2011/07/25/ho

      Friend and fellow blogger Dania Santana ( http://www.lafamiliacool.com/ ) wrote about her own experience moving from D.R. to NYC.

      I think one of the biggest things you can do is to just be aware of white privilege and racism here in the U.S. It's very easy to blame yourself or think you're less worthy and that you are receiving less or not getting ahead because you are somehow lacking. Know that this isn't true…this is a lie told by the upper class to break us. ♥

      I also know that it's super important to cling to your roots. Raise your daughters proud of their heritage…both sides. Don't let them ever doubt the worth of their D.R./Haitian side. I wrote a post not long ago about raising confident multiracial kids, hope this helps with some suggestions too. ♥


      Please let me know if there is anything more specific you would like to know or if you would like me to create a list of similar blogs on this topic for you. I know quite a few good ones…like this one for example… http://www.isthatyourchild.com.

      Thanks so much for sharing a little piece of your story. It's a story that I think a lot more people need to hear. ♥

  • Lisa
    September 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Thanks for posting and writing about this subject. I think a lot of people are either afraid to talk about it or want to ignore that differences or disparities even exist in their world. Though I wish the world were fair, its not the case at this point. It would be wonderful if some people that usually don't think about it will get some amount of understanding, and gain some empathy and mindfulness for the diverse amount of people all around them. Thanks again

    • Chantilly Patiño
      Chantilly Pati&ntild
      September 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      I definitely agree with you Lisa. I think it's a really uncomfortable topic that most want to just avoid, plus it's super easy to miss for many because they aren't exposed to these issues and because of that, are not aware. For me, it has been an uphill battle to "prove" to family in friends that racism is in fact, real…and that each community experiences it in a drastically different way.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I really appreciate it. ♥