Social Justice Usage
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.
Source: Kendi, Ibram X. How To Be an Antiracist. Random House. Kindle Edition, p. 139.
In 2003…53 percent of Black people were surveyed as saying that something other than racism mostly explained why Black people had worse jobs, income, and housing than Whites, up from 48 percent a decade earlier. 3 Only 40 percent of Black respondents described racism as the source of these inequities in 2003. By 2013, in the middle of Obama’s presidency, only 37 percent of Black people were pointing to “mostly racism” as the cause of racial inequities. A whopping 60 percent of Black people had joined with the 83 percent of White people that year who found explanations other than racism to explain persisting racial inequities. The internalizing of racist ideas was likely the reason.
New Discourses Commentary
The idea of internalized racism begins with an insistence that various demographic groups have authentic and inauthentic ways of being in the world, as determinable by Theory. It is a way of discrediting the views of racial minorities when those views do not support Theory. It is a form of “internalized oppression” based on race.
Under this concept, any (racial) minority who happens to disagree with the theoretical view ascribed to that racial group (say, by thinking for herself and reaching a different conclusion) can be accused of not thinking clearly by having “internalized” the racism of the system. In fact, that person can be accused of thinking from within the “dominant” system, which has in some sense brainwashed them or offered them some kind of reward (like success) that they have cynically opted into. (See also, acting white, patriarchal reward, male approval; and neoliberal reward.)
This idea ultimately proceeds from the critical race Theoretical view, which is itself a slight perversion of Michel Foucault’s postmodern view of power, that different demographic groups have different cultures and that those exist in accordance with their position relative to sociocultural power. Thus, for example, all people of a given (socially constructed) race (like “black”) should experience racial oppression in largely the same way and should thus speak and think in relationship to the power that oppresses them in a consistent way.
When this doesn’t happen, the Theoretical excuse for it is often “internalized racism,” a claim that the person (of color) involved has been brainwashed to “think white” against his own racial authenticity, as determined by race Theory (see also, false consciousness and hegemony). (Incidentally, these socially constructed races and theorized assumptions are transparently bogus and presumptive, if not racist themselves, as the relative high success of very dark-skinned Nigerian immigrants in Western nations, e.g., readily demonstrates.)
Acting white; Authentic; Consciousness raising; Critical consciousness; Dominance; False consciousness; Foucauldian; Hegemony; Internalized dominance; Internalized misogyny; Internalized oppression; Internalized sexism; Internalized transphobia; Neoliberal reward; Oppression; Patriarchal reward; People of color; Position; Postmodern; Race; Social construction; Systemic power; White
Revision date: 2/4/20