Different Types of Racism

Sep 17th, 2016

“Racism takes many forms, but at its core it is a personal and social disorder rooted in the assumption that one race is superior to another. Racism occurs not only in the actions of the majority culture toward people of color, but also between and within ethnic communities. In one way or another, racism affects all of us. This letter will focus primarily on racism by people from the United States dominant culture against people of color. 

Some have given racism the working definition of “prejudice with power.” In this sense, it involves not only prejudice, but also the use of social, economic, and political power to keep one race in a privileged position and to exclude others. 

I believe that two broad types of racism need to be recognized and resisted: individual and institutional. Individual racism is evident when a person adopts attitudes or takes actions that are based on the assumption of racial superiority. Such attitudes and actions violate the rights and dignity of other people because of race. 

A second type of racism is institutional or structural. This type of racism exists where patterns of racial superiority are embedded in the systems and institutions of society. Such racism is less blatant and more complex, but it exists nonetheless. It is present wherever systems and institutions are created and maintained in such a way that they provide privilege or prejudice for one race over others. This type of racism can be seen, to varying degrees, in many of our social, economic, and political structures, including the structures of our Church.” 

~Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, In God’s Image: Pastoral Letter on Racism, September, 12, 2003


Peace & Justice Committee