Discussions about racism are challenging when we have differing language, experiences, and definitions for understanding what’s at the root. For purposes of this site, we use the term “racism” to mean prejudice plus power to emphasize the mechanisms by which racism leads to different consequences for different groups. The relationship and behavior of these interdependent elements have allowed racism to continue, generation after generation. The power of structural racism perpetuates, even in the absence of explicit racist actors, by inherently promoting advantages for white people and disadvantages for people of color, with consequences that have interpersonal, cultural, and institutional manifestations.

Resources in this section offer different ways to understand interpersonal, cultural, and institutional racism. <a href="https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourc [...]


Misogynoir in the Environmental Field
Grace Anderson
The Pervasive Reality of Anti-Black Racism in Canada
N. DasGupta, V. Shandal, D. Shadd, and A. Segal
CivicAction; BCG
“Blackness Itself Is the Crime”: Bishop William Barber on Racism in the Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial
Amy Goodman
Democracy Now!
João H. Costa Vargas, The Denial of Antiblackness: Multiracial Redemption and Black Suffering
with Candela Marini
New Books Network
The History of Anti-Black Racism in America
Provost Lecture Series
Amherst College
Want to Keep Black Women in the Nonprofit Sector? Worry About Yourselves
April Walker
Community-Centric Fundraising
Interview with Nunu Kidane and Gerald Lenoir
Camilla Hawthorne and Jennifer Lynn Kelly
Critical Ethnic Studies Association
“There is a Target on Us” – The Impact of Anti-Black Racism on African Migrants at Mexico’s Southern Border
S. Priya Morley et al.
Black Alliance for Just Immigration; Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración
“We Must Be In It for the Long Haul”: Black Foundation Executives Request Action by Philanthropy on Anti-Black Racism
The American Nightmare
Ibram X. Kendi
The Atlantic
Undocu Guide to Dismantle Anti-Blackness at Home
United We Dream
Centering Blackness: The Path to Economic Liberation for All
A. Price, J. Bhattacharya, and D. Warren
Insight Center
How Brown Girl Solidarity Harms Us
Thenmozhi Soundararajan and Sharmin Hossain
Wear Your Voice Magazine (WYV)
As Non-Black POC, We Need to Address Anti-Blackness
Ana Cecilia Pérez
YES! Magazine
Dismantling Anti-Blackness Together
Lorgia García-Peña
Let’s Talk About Anti-Blackness
YES! Magazine
Non-Black People of Color Need to Start Having Conversations About the Anti-Blackness in Our Communities
Sharon Park
We Have Medicine for Each Other
Jana Schmieding, Azie Dungey, et al.
IllumiNative On-Air
How Latinx People Can Fight Anti-Black Racism in Our Own Culture
Angie Jaime
My Best Friend
Ise Lyfe
Snap Judgment Films
Resources for Non-Black Asians on Anti-Blackness
Fantasy World
Social Science Literature Review: Media Representations and Impact on the Lives of Black Men and Boys
Janet Dewart Bell, Eleni Delimpaltadaki Janis, et al.
Topos Partnership; The Opportunity Agenda

Cultural Racism

The Art of Returning Stolen Art
Tessa Crisman
Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ)
“The Worshipping of Whiteness”: Why Racist Symbols Persist in America
Alexandra Villarreal 
The Guardian
Beyond Appropriation: A Letter to My Fellow White Yoga Teachers
Bear Hebert
What’s Wrong With Cultural Appropriation? These 9 Answers Reveal Its Harm
Maisha Z. Johnson
Everyday Feminism
White Supremacy Culture
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
Cultural Appropriation
AORTA (Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance)
Discussion Guide: American Denial
Karen Zill, et al.
PBS, Independent Lens
Don’t Mess Up When You Dress Up: Cultural Appropriation and Costumes
Kjerstin Johnson
Racism and the Media
Yasmin Jiwani
Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society
The Harm of Native Stereotyping: Facts and Evidence
Blue Corn Comics
Three Ways to Speak English
Jamila Lyiscott
TEDSalon NY2014
White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men
Terry Macy and Daniel Hart

Institutional Racism

Everyday Discrimination Scale
David R. Williams
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
A Day in a Life: How Racism Impacts Families of Color
Living Cities
Confronting Institutionalized Racism
Camara Phyllis Jones, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
Confronting Racial Bias at Work
Race Forward
Definition & Analysis of Institutional Racism
Solid Ground
Discourses on Race and the Role of Government
Grassroots Policy Project
Historical Development of Institutional Racism
Robette Ann Dias
Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing & Training
Levels of Racism: A Theoretic Framework and a Gardener’s Tale
Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones
American Journal of Public Health
Racism Review
Joe R. Feagin and Jessie Daniels
Racism Review

Interpersonal Racism

Insights and Action Guide: Change the Story. Change the Future.
Echo Hawk Consulting
The Hidden Victims of Gaslighting
Ria Wolstenholme
Hey, You Got a Little Racism Stuck in Your Teeth
Vu Le
Nonprofit AF
Historical Trauma and Microaggressions: A Framework for Culturally-Based Practice
Carl Michaels
Center for Excellence in Children’s Mental Health at University of Minnesota
How to Resolve Racially Stressful Situations
Dr. Howard C. Stevenson
Liberation and Equity: Love While Challenging Racist Behavior
Ana Cecilia Perez
Interaction Institute for Social Change
Microaggressions in Everyday Life
Derald Wing Sue and David Rivera
Psychology Today
Project Implicit
Tony Greenwald, Mahzarin Banaji, and Brian Nosek
Harvard University
Reducing Stereotype Threat: Strategies for Instructors
Center for Teaching and Learning at Washington University in St. Louis
Microaggressions: Power, Privilege, and Everyday Life
Vivian Lu and David Zhou
The Microaggressions Project

“There is power in naming racism for what it is, in shining a bright light on it, brighter than any torch or flashlight. A thing as simple as naming it allows us to root it out of the darkness and hushed conversation where it likes to breed like roaches. It makes us acknowledge it. Confront it.”

~ Jesmyn Ward, National Book Award Winner for Fiction (2011)


Systemic Racism Explained – act.tv

Also in this section:
  • Racial Equity

  • Systems Thinking

  • Internalized Racism

  • Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity

  • Decolonization Theory and Practice

  • Theory

  • Structural Racism

  • System of White Supremacy and White Privilege

  • Intersectionality



Anti-Racism is defined as the work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach, and set up in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts.

SOURCE:  Race Forward, “Race Reporting Guide” (2015).

Related Resources:  Theory (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Anti-Racism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Critical Race Theory

The Critical Race Theory movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies take up, but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, and even feelings and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step by step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and principles of constitutional law.

SOURCE:  Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, NYU Press, 2001 (2nd ed. 2012, 3rd ed. 2017).

Related Resources:  Theory (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Critical Race Theory”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts


  1. Decolonization may be defined as the active resistance against colonial powers, and a shifting of power towards political, economic, educational, cultural, psychic independence and power that originate from a colonized nation’s own indigenous culture. This process occurs politically and also applies to personal and societal psychic, cultural, political, agricultural, and educational deconstruction of colonial oppression.

  2. Per Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang: “Decolonization doesn’t have a synonym”; it is not a substitute for ‘human rights’ or ‘social justice’, though undoubtedly, they are connected in various ways. Decolonization demands an Indigenous framework and a centering of Indigenous land, Indigenous sovereignty, and Indigenous ways of thinking.


1. The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), “Glossary.”

2. Eric Ritskes, “What Is Decolonization and Why Does It Matter?

Related Resources:  Decolonization Theory and Practice

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts


Indigenous populations are composed of the existing descendants of the peoples who inhabited the present territory of a country wholly or partially at the time when persons of a different culture or ethnic origin arrived there from other parts of the world, overcame them and, by conquest, settlement, or other means, reduced them to a non-dominant or colonial condition; who today live more in conformity with their particular social, economic, and cultural customs and traditions than with the institutions of the country of which they now form part, under a State structure which incorporates mainly national, social, and cultural characteristics of other segments of the population which are predominant.

(Examples: Maori in territory now defined as New Zealand; Mexicans in territory now defined as Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma; Native American tribes in territory now defined as the United States.)

SOURCE:  United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2010, page 9), originally presented in the preliminary report of the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights, José Martínez Cobo (1972, page 10).

Related Resources:  Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity  (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Indigeneity”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Internalized Racism

Internalized racism is the situation that occurs in a racist system when a racial group oppressed by racism supports the supremacy and dominance of the dominating group by maintaining or participating in the set of attitudes, behaviors, social structures, and ideologies that undergird the dominating group’s power. It involves four essential and interconnected elements:

  1. Decision-making - Due to racism, people of color do not have the ultimate decision-making power over the decisions that control our lives and resources. As a result, on a personal level, we may think white people know more about what needs to be done for us than we do. On an interpersonal level, we may not support each other’s authority and power – especially if it is in opposition to the dominating racial group. Structurally, there is a system in place that rewards people of color who support white supremacy and power and coerces or punishes those who do not.

  2. Resources - Resources, broadly defined (e.g. money, time, etc), are unequally in the hands and under the control of white people. Internalized racism is the system in place that makes it difficult for people of color to get access to resources for our own communities and to control the resources of our community. We learn to believe that serving and using resources for ourselves and our particular community is not serving “everybody.”

  3. Standards - With internalized racism, the standards for what is appropriate or “normal” that people of color accept are white people’s or Eurocentric standards. We have difficulty naming, communicating and living up to our deepest standards and values, and holding ourselves and each other accountable to them.

  4. Naming the problem - There is a system in place that misnames the problem of racism as a problem of or caused by people of color and blames the disease – emotional, economic, political, etc. – on people of color. With internalized racism, people of color might, for example, believe we are more violent than white people and not consider state-sanctioned political violence or the hidden or privatized violence of white people and the systems they put in place and support.

SOURCE:  Donna Bivens, Internalized Racism: A Definition (Women’s Theological Center, 1995).

Related Resources:  Internalized Racism

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts


  1. Exposing [one’s] multiple identities can help clarify the ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression. For example, a Black woman in America does not experience gender inequalities in exactly the same way as a white woman, nor racial oppression identical to that experienced by a Black man. Each race and gender intersection produces a qualitatively distinct life.

  2. Per Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw: Intersectionality is simply a prism to see the interactive effects of various forms of discrimination and disempowerment. It looks at the way that racism, many times, interacts with patriarchy, heterosexism, classism, xenophobia — seeing that the overlapping vulnerabilities created by these systems actually create specific kinds of challenges. “Intersectionality 102,” then, is to say that these distinct problems create challenges for movements that are only organized around these problems as separate and individual. So when racial justice doesn’t have a critique of patriarchy and homophobia, the particular way that racism is experienced and exacerbated by heterosexism, classism etc., falls outside of our political organizing. It means that significant numbers of people in our communities aren’t being served by social justice frames because they don’t address the particular ways that they’re experiencing discrimination.


1. Intergroup Resources, “Intersectionality” (2012).

2. Otamere Guobadia, “Kimberlé Crenshaw and Lady Phyll Talk Intersectionality, Solidarity, and Self-Care” (2018).

Related Resources:  Intersectionality

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Racial Equity

  1. Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities, not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or that fail to eliminate them.

  2. “A mindset and method for solving problems that have endured for generations, seem intractable, harm people and communities of color most acutely, and ultimately affect people of all races. This will require seeing differently, thinking differently, and doing the work differently. Racial equity is about results that make a difference and last.”


  1. Center for Assessment and Policy Development.

  2. OpenSource Leadership Strategies.

Related Resources:  Racial Equity

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Racial Identity Development Theory

Racial Identity Development Theory discusses how people in various racial groups and with multiracial identities form their particular self-concept. It also describes some typical phases in remaking that identity based on learning and awareness of systems of privilege and structural racism, cultural, and historical meanings attached to racial categories, and factors operating in the larger socio-historical level (e.g. globalization, technology, immigration, and increasing multiracial population).

SOURCE:  New Perspectives on Racial Identity Development: Integrating Emerging Frameworks, edited by Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe and Bailey W. Jackson (NYU Press, 2012).

Related Resources:  Theory (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Racial Identity Development Theory”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Racial Justice

  1. The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures.

  2. Operationalizing racial justice means reimagining and co-creating a just and liberated world and includes:

  • understanding the history of racism and the system of white supremacy and addressing past harms,

  • working in right relationship and accountability in an ecosystem (an issue, sector, or community ecosystem) for collective change,

  • implementing interventions that use an intersectional analysis and that impact multiple systems,

  • centering Blackness and building community, cultural, economic, and political power of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC), and

  • applying the practice of love along with disruption and resistance to the status quo.


  1. Race Forward, “Race Reporting Guide” (2015).

  2. Maggie Potapchuk, “Operationalizing Racial Justice in Non-Profit Organizations” (MP Associates, 2020). This definition is based on and expanded from the one described in Rinku Sen and Lori Villarosa, “Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens: A Practical Guide” (Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, 2019).

Settler Colonialism

Settler colonialism refers to colonization in which colonizing powers create permanent or long-term settlement on land owned and/or occupied by other peoples, often by force. This contrasts with colonialism where colonizer’s focus only on extracting resources back to their countries of origin, for example. Settler Colonialism typically includes oppressive governance, dismantling of indigenous cultural forms, and enforcement of codes of superiority (such as white supremacy). Examples include white European occupations of land in what is now the United States, Spain’s settlements throughout Latin America, and the Apartheid government established by White Europeans in South Africa.

Per Dina Gillio-Whitaker, “Settler Colonialism may be said to be a structure, not an historic event, whose endgame is always the elimination of the Natives in order to acquire their land, which it does in countless seen and unseen ways. These techniques are woven throughout the US’s national discourse at all levels of society. Manifest Destiny—that is, the US’s divinely sanctioned inevitability—is like a computer program always operating unnoticeably in the background. In this program, genocide and land dispossession are continually both justified and denied.”

SOURCE:  Dina Gilio-Whitaker, “Settler Fragility: Why Settler Privilege Is So Hard to Talk About” (2018).

Related Resources:  Diaspora and Colonization (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Neo-Colonialism and Settler Colonialism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / History of Racism and Movements

Targeted Universalism

Targeted universalism means setting universal goals pursued by targeted processes to achieve those goals. Within a targeted universalism framework, universal goals are established for all groups concerned. The strategies developed to achieve those goals are targeted, based upon how different groups are situated within structures, culture, and across geographies to obtain the universal goal. Targeted universalism is goal oriented, and the processes are directed in service of the explicit, universal goal.

SOURCE:  Targeted Universalism: Policy & Practice – A Primer by john a. powell, Stephen Menendian, and Wendy Ake (Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, 2019).

Related Resources:  Theory (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Targeted Universalism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

White Privilege

1. Refers to the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.

2. Structural White Privilege: A system of white domination that creates and maintains belief systems that make current racial advantages and disadvantages seem normal. The system includes powerful incentives for maintaining white privilege and its consequences, and powerful negative consequences for trying to interrupt white privilege or reduce its consequences in meaningful ways. The system includes internal and external manifestations at the individual, interpersonal, cultural and institutional levels. 

The accumulated and interrelated advantages and disadvantages of white privilege that are reflected in racial/ethnic inequities in life-expectancy and other health outcomes, income and wealth, and other outcomes, in part through different access to opportunities and resources. These differences are maintained in part by denying that these advantages and disadvantages exist at the structural, institutional, cultural, interpersonal, and individual levels and by refusing to redress them or eliminate the systems, policies, practices, cultural norms, and other behaviors and assumptions that maintain them.

Interpersonal White Privilege: Behavior between people that consciously or unconsciously reflects white superiority or entitlement.

Cultural White Privilege: A set of dominant cultural assumptions about what is good, normal or appropriate that reflects Western European white world views and dismisses or demonizes other world views.

Institutional White Privilege: Policies, practices and behaviors of institutions—such as schools, banks, non-profits or the Supreme Court—that have the effect of maintaining or increasing accumulated advantages for those groups currently defined as white, and maintaining or increasing disadvantages for those racial or ethnic groups not defined as white. The ability of institutions to survive and thrive even when their policies, practices and behaviors maintain, expand or fail to redress accumulated disadvantages and/or inequitable outcomes for people of color.


  1. Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspon­dences Through Work in Women Studies” (1988).

  2. Transforming White Privilege: A 21st Century Leadership Capacity, CAPD, MP Associates, World Trust Educational Services (2012).

Related Resources:  System of White Supremacy and White Privilege

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts