The function of racism … is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. … None of that is necessary. There will always be one more thing.feminist, novelist, essayist, and critical race scholar
It is critical to remember that racism exists in multiple levels: internalized, interpersonal, institutional and structural.
Internalized Racism: A set of privately held beliefs, prejudices and ideas about the superiority of whites and the inferiority of people of color. Among people of color, it manifests as internalized oppression. Among whites, it manifests as internalized racial superiority.
Interpersonal Racism (between people): The expression of racism between individuals. It occurs when individuals interact, and their private beliefs affect their interactions.
Institutional Racism: Discriminatory treatment, unfair policies and practices, and inequitable opportunities and impacts within organizations and institutions, all based on race, that routinely produce racially inequitable outcomes for people of color and advantages for white people. Individuals within institutions inherit the power of that institution when they reinforce racial inequities.
Structural Racism: A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations and other norms work to perpetuate or reinforce racial group inequality. It is racial bias among institutions and across society. It involves the cumulative, compounding effects of societal factors, including the history, culture, ideology and interactions of institutions and policies that systematically privilege white people and disadvantage people of color.
Often when racism is discussed, it is done so at an interpersonal level. Only acknowledging racism in this way hinders us from addressing the myriad factors keeping the system of racism in place.