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Anti-Racism Resources

Structural Racism

In many ways “systemic racism” and “structural racism” are synonymous. The concept refers to how ideas of white superiority are captured in everyday thinking at a systems level: taking in the big picture of how society operates, rather than looking at one-on-one interactions.


"I don't see color. I just see people." — "I don't care if you're Black, white, green, or purple-polka-dotted!" — "#AllLivesMatter"

In her blog "Culturally Speaking" on the Psychology Today website, the clinical psychologist and University of Ottawa associate professor Monnica Williams writes, "Colorblindness is the racial ideology that posits the best way to end discrimination is by treating individuals as equally as possible, without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity. This not only amounts to a dismissal of the lived experiences of people of color, but also suggests that racism does not exist so long as one ignores it.

"At face value, colorblindness seems like a good thing--actually living up to Dr. King's ideal of judging people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. However, colorblindness alone is not sufficient to combat racism or heal racial wounds on a national or personal level. It is only a half-measure that, in the end, operates as a form of racism."


"Racial microaggressions are the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities and denigrating messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned White people who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated. These messages may be sent nonverbally (clutching one's purse more tightly) or environmentally (symbols like the confederate flag or using American Indian mascots). Such communications are usually outside the level of conscious awareness of perpetrators."—Derald Wing Sue, Psychology Today (2010)

Tokenism & Stereotypes

"Tokenism is presence without meaningful participation. For example, a superficial invitation for participation without ongoing dialogue and support, handpicked representatives who are expected to speak for the whole (socially oppressed) group (e.g., ‘tell us how women experience this issue’). Tokenism is often used as a band-aid solution to help the group improve its image (e.g. ‘We’re not racist, look there’s a person of colour on the panel’).—Sustainable Campuses

"Similarly, this attitude of 'one is enough/they're all the same' contributes to the mindset that one person of color or one native person can stand in for all people of color and native people respectively. Not only is it problematic and illogical to assume that one individual's perspective and experiences can be generalized to millions of other people, it also promotes to the idea that a friendship, relationship, or just exposure to one or a few people of color or native people negates racist thoughts, ideas, or behavior toward others (i.e. "I'm not a racist, my boyfriend is black" or "My costume isn't racist—my best friend is First Nation and she thinks it's hilarious").—Simmons Anti-Racism Research Guide

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