Summary: In a recent report by Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice entitled "Moving the Race Conversation Forward," researchers compiled nearly 1,200 articles from major news sources and identified seven "bad habits" that the media falls back on when talking about race. In this video, Jay Smooth focuses on just one of these bad habits, which is the tendency to focus on individuals at the expense of systems. In order to nuance the conversation, Smooth reminds viewers that it's important to recognize that there are different levels of racism, and he outlines the properties of four different types: internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural. Delineating across types is important, as it allows Smooth to explain how some forms of racism are easier to focus on and recognize than others; namely, the individual forms of racism--internalized and interpersonal--are among those more obvious types. The systemic forms of institutional and structural racism, however, are more covert and less readily visible. Smooth defines institutional racism as "the racist policies and discriminatory practices in schools and workplaces and government agencies that routinely produce unjust outcomes for people of color" and structural racism as "the unjust racist patterns and practices that play out across institutions that make up our society." Race Forward's report documents how news outlets fail to adequately talk about these systemic forms of racism in their coverage of race-focused media, thus resulting in an incomplete picture about racism and racial justice. As Smooth says, "When we constantly focus on individual stories it distorts our sense of how racism works." The report offers recommendation strategies for talking about racial justice in a more holistic way. After watching the clip, viewers can be encouraged to think of examples of each type of racism. Given the salience of colorblind forms of racism in the contemporary context, viewers might challenge themselves to think of examples of colorblind racism for each of the four types, thus illustrating how colorblind forms of racism can transcend both individual and systemic domains. Viewers can also reflect upon why, if at all, it is easier to come up with examples of some types of racism rather than others.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp