Levels of Racism: How and where do see these operating?

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  once said that “Everything we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.” This certainly is true for disparities (economic, health, educational, etc.) that are grounded in the history and ongoing presence of racism. It is important to remember that racism does not simply exist in racist individuals and interpersonal interactions. Dr. Camara Jones has been one of FSNE’s beloved teachers with respect to developing ways of seeing racism in action (her “Allegories on Race and Racism”talk is a great resource). Dr. Jones says that in order to address racism effectively, we have to understand how it operates at multiple levels, all of which have to been seen in order for us to address injustice.

We invite you to read this description of the different levels at which racism operates.

Whether or not these four levels of racism are new, consider how you typically think about and see racism operating in your life, work and community. Are certain levels more obvious than others?

If you are addressing racism in your work and life, do you tend to be focused on one level more than another? Might you consider focusing on other levels or partnering with those who do (social workers doing trauma work, for example, or community organizers working to change policy, or culture workers making new narratives)? What might this look like?