Defining Race & Anti-Racism

The UCC Sacred Conversation on Race provides a framework for exploring the call to be anti-racist in our life as church together.

Anti-Racism is: “A conscious intentional effort to eradicate racism in all its forms – individual, cultural,
and institutional.”

opening_myrace_artRace: It has been said that “race is a pigment of our imaginations” [source: Ruben G. Rumbaut]. That is another way of saying that race is actually an invention. It is a way of arbitrarily dividing humankind into different groups for the purpose of keeping some on top and some at the bottom; some in and some out. And its invention has very clear historical roots: namely, colonialism.

“Race is an arbitrary socio-biological classification created by Europeans during the time of world wide colonial expansion, to assign human worth and social status, using themselves as the model of humanity, for the purpose of legitimizing white power and white skin privilege.” [Source: Crossroads].

To acknowledge that race is an historical, arbitrary invention does not mean that it can be, thereby, easily dispensed with as a reality in people’s lives. Our world has been ordered and structured on the basis of race and that oppressive ordering and structuring is RACISM.

Racism: Racism is racial prejudice plus power. Racism is the intentional or unintentional use of power to isolate, separate and exploit others. This use of power is based on a belief in superior origin, identity of supposed racial characteristics. Racism confers certain privileges on and defends the dominant group, which in turn sustains and perpetuates racism. Both consciously and unconsciously, racism is enforced and maintained by the legal, cultural, religious, educational, economical, political and military institutions of societies. Racism is more than just a personal attitude. It is the institutionalized form of that attitude. It is both overt and covert.

Prejudice: Prejudice is a set of negative beliefs generalized about a whole group of people. All people hold prejudices, but only the dominant group has the power to enforce laws, establish institutions and set cultural standards that are used to dominate those who are the subject of their prejudice. Prejudicial thinking is frequently based on stereotypes.

 

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