(re)defining racism: who gets to?

I’ve been neglecting this blog for the past few days, mostly because I’ve been caught up in debate over on this thread at Alas, A Blog. The part of the conversation that I got involved in began with someone comparing my saying that white gentrification can seem like an invasion to anti-immigration rhetoric, but the whole thread travels down a long and winding road about immigration and gentrification in general and winds up (yet another) debate on the correct definition of racism. I ascribe to the definition of racism as racial power and privilege plus racial prejudice, and the notion that, while all of us are prejudiced as a result of living in a racist society, only white folks have the racial power that enables them to be racist. As usual, some (actually, only two) white folks disagreed, vehemently, and many other folks, people of color and white people alike, disagreed with them in turn.

In the course of this discussion, I discovered one of the best breakdowns of this definition of racism that I’ve ever read, an Understanding Racism workshop outline from the Prison Activist Resource Center that is inspired by the Undoing Racism workshops of the People’s Institute. I highly recommend that folks read it.

Coming soon (hopefully tomorrow): what happened at the Dyke March, and a whole lot of replying to comments, old and new.

4 Responses to “(re)defining racism: who gets to?”


  1. 1 vegankid

    thanks for the link to the Understanding Racism workshop outline. i’ll be sure to use it on Ally Work.

    you went to a dyke march? like, gross. did they like try to hit on you? ;)

    btw, despite the fact that i’m a contributor, i usually avoid discussions over at alas. but you’ve intrigued me by the ignorance that you encountered.

  2. 2 President Barbicane

    You never answered the question asked in the title of your argument. I am genuinely curious — in your view, who does get to redefine racism?

  3. 3 Doyle Saylor

    ABB writes;
    I ascribe to the definition of racism as racial power and privilege plus racial prejudice, and the notion that, while all of us are prejudiced as a result of living in a racist society, only white folks have the racial power that enables them to be racist.

    Doyle;
    That’s good enough definition for me. However, I think one could expand the definition by looking at the mechanics of racism. Racism entails; language, emotion, vision. Racism is a also a kind of knowledge work. For a society to really address racism to the roots would take a systemic effort to overhaul language, emotion, vision to succeed. I’m optimistic that we could do that as well.

    I was reading the document you quoted and recommended to read. I saw Elizabeth Martinez quoted in there. I know she co-teaches with Angela Davis in Santa Cruz at times. I’ve looked at their syllabi which is a handy list of what to know about racism as people currently understand that. A good resource in other words.
    thanks,
    Doyle Saylor

  1. 1 Women's Space/The Margins
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