Internalized racism is the learned form of prejudice we have towards people of different races or ethnicities. It is present in our thinking process and actions, and it can manifest in two ways:
- Internalized oppression: an assumed racial inferiority on the part of Blacks, Native Americans and other people of color.
- Internalized privilege: the assessment of racial superiority for white people.
Internalized racism can be hard to see and talk about as it is determined by our own culture, beliefs, biases and standards of beauty — frequently requiring engagement with characteristics that are not appreciated by mainstream (white) culture. For minorities suffering from internalized oppression, learning to love their skin, their hair, their traditions, and therefore themselves will require a lot of healing.
- How do you relate to these notions of internalized racial inferiority and superiority? Is either one familiar to you? If so, how do they show up in your life?
- How do they show up in your workplace, school, place of worship, or community?
- How do they interact with feelings associated with other aspects of your identity like gender, age, ethnicity, class status, etc.? Explore your answer by drawing, singing, or dancing your reactions.
- See if you can identify any specific feelings as they surface while doing this reflection. Use the Feelings Wheel. What comes up? What messages do these feelings convey?
Engage in the work of personal healing. See this short article from Anneliese Singh, author of The Racial Healing Handbook.
- The article Self-Love in the Time of Coronavirus explores how to move from a powerless deficit framing, to a narrative of individual power.
- Watch a short video of Maitreyi Ramakrishnan discussing navigating internalized racism and embracing Tamil culture.