What do we mean by 'Eliminating Racism'?
In the US, there is a system based on race (racism) that produces advantages for white people at the expense of people of color. It is a system that has existed throughout the history of this country and still exists today.
Think of it like this: racism = racial prejudice + power to oppress (institutional power)
Any person (of any race) can have prejudices against people of another race and can mistreat others based on this prejudice, but only white people (as a racial group) have institutional power to oppress people of color. 'Reverse racism' does not exist because people of color lack the institutional power to oppress white people.
Of course it doesn't mean that every white individual is rich and powerful and gets everything they want. But it does mean that white people (as a racial group) control the systems that matter in our society and determine what is seen as 'normal' in our culture. White people as a racial group write and enforce most of our laws, head up the largest corporations, make up most of the judges in the justice system, hold most of the wealth in this country, and control most major media outlets. Their racial prejudice has deeper consequences because they can use their power to oppress people of color.
Although individuals can use racism to hurt each other, racism isn't just about how individuals treat other individuals. Racism is built into and upheld by every institution of our society and our culture--which means that laws, policies, and practices can be racist (meaning that they produce outcomes that advantage white people at the expense of people of color).
If someone asked, "are you racist?", the answer would probably be no, right? But because racism is a system that continues to operate whether we like it or not, not being racist isn't enough. To someday eliminate racism, we must take an anti-racist approach--which mean we are actively working against racism in our work and in our everyday lives.
In the US and in most parts of the world, there is a system of advantage and disadvantage based on gender. This system is known as sexism. Under sexism, women's power is taken away in order to award privilege and power to men. In other words, men are consistently and predictably advantaged at the expense of women.
Men hold tremendous amounts of institutional power in our society--they write and enforce most of our laws, head up the largest corporations, make up most of the judges in the justice system, hold most of the wealth in this country, and control most major media outlets. While women can hold prejudiced attitudes or even hatred toward men, women as a group lack the institutional power to oppress men--which mean they can be prejudiced, but not sexist.
Feminism has been turned into a dirty word, but feminism doesn't tell people that women are better or that we should take away the rights of men. Instead, feminism, like ant-racism, invites us to challenge a system that is oppressive to women so both women and men can enjoy equal political, social, and economic power.
Sexism plays out on a one-to-one level, for instance, when men interrupt or talk over women. This tells women that their opinions are not as valuable as those of men.
On an institutional level, sexist policies and practices also hurt women. when women are paid less than men for the same work, for example, we are telling women that their work is not as valuable.
Finally, we see sexism displayed in our culture, which operates under very strict gender roles. In other words, our culture tells us and reminds us every day that men are supposed to be dominant and assertive while women are supposed to be weak and submissive. Additionally, women and things associated with the feminine are constantly viewed as undesirable--i.e. "crying like a girl".
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