Racism comes in different forms and it harms people in many ways. It’s when someone tells you to “go back to your country” when you’re literally standing in it, but it’s also about the power dynamics that encourage people to justify the use of those words.
The above is an example of racism at the individual level, where individuals intentionally behave in a manner that has a harmful effect on members of a race/ethnic group that is different from their own. Racism at the local or individual level perpetuates racist beliefs, attitudes, and actions and is reinforced through systemic racism: the manifestation of the racist ideologies and attitudes that unjustly promote inequality for racialized groups. Put more simply, systemic racism refers to a cycle in which powerful institutions guide the beliefs and values that inherently become part of the norm. This creates the implicit biases that result in the legitimization of policies that empower the powerful. People who aren’t directly affected by this form of racism are less likely to acknowledge how this is detrimental for minority groups and therefore more likely to continue to support existing laws and policies.
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Unpacking Equity is a collaboration between the Public Policy and Governance Review and the Equity, Diversity and Public Policy Initiative at the School of Public Policy and Governance. This series aims to explain equity-related policy issues and break down complicated topics involving equity, diversity and inclusion. Policy professionals can gain a better understanding of these complex issues in order to incorporate an equity lens into their practice.