Let’s Talk Racism

To begin, let’s define racism. Racism as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission is,

“an ideology that either directly or indirectly asserts that one group is inherently superior to others. It can be openly displayed in racial jokes and slur or hate crimes but it can be more deeply rooted in attitudes, values and stereotypical beliefs. In soma cases, these are unconsciously held and have become deeply embedded in systems and institutions that have evolved over time. Racism operates at a number of levels, in particular, individual, systemic and societal.”

Racism occurs on various levels. To demonstrate look at the figure below:

Oppression Lenses:

The oppression lenses was adapted from the National Equity Project that looks at the lenses of oppression. Racism is a type of oppression that people experience and it can be multi-tiered.

Individual Racism: refers to a person’s beliefs, ideas and actions that oppress individuals either purposely or not.

Internalized Racism: when someone with a racialized identity holds onto racist beliefs that are set by other individuals or in society.

Interpersonal Racism: refers to racist attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors that can be shown either purposely or not, and shows the interactions between individuals.

Systemic Oppression: Looks at the systems within our society (political, economic, cultural, etc.) and how certain groups have gained more from these systems than others. Also, systemic oppression looks at the history of these groups.

Institutional Racism: where racist thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and actions are shown in institutions such as: schools, businesses, police departments, etc. The institutions hold these racist ideas and act upon them against racilized groups.

Structural Racism: where racism is allowed to exist across institutions. It is the build up of our actions within each institution (education, medial, police, etc.) and how that negatively impacts the lives of racial communities.

Oppression is rooted in white supremacy. The belief is that whiteness is inherently good, and anyone who strays off of whiteness is not. The pyramid shows examples of how there are socially accepted forms of racism and unacceptable forms. The main point to take away is that the socially accepted forms are unacceptable.

Racism is a public health issue. Racism prevents people from going to their doctors and accessing the care they deserve. Racism prevents people from finding jobs. Racism negatively impacts the mental health of people who experience it. As the post mentioned racism is tied to our systems, and unfortunately that does not exclude the system of healthcare.

This post was a collaborative effort between the Public Health Collaboration group.

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