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Author Topic: Definition of Racism  (Read 32704 times)
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« on: July 01, 2006, 10:45:47 PM »

Definition of Racism
Written by: Dr. Helan Enoch Page
acism is a global system of material and symbolic resource distribution management more comprehensively defined, in accordance with each of the following principles:

Principle I. Racism is an ideological, structural and historic stratification process by which the population of European descent, through its individual and institutional distress patterns, intentionally has been able to sustain, to its own best advantage, the dynamic mechanics of upward or downward mobility (of fluid status assignment) to the general disadvantage of the population designated as non-white (on a global scale), using skin color, gender, class, ethnicity or nonwestern nationality as the main indexical criteria used for enforcing differential resource allocation decisions that contribute to decisive changes in relative racial standing in ways most favoring the populations designated as 'white.'

Principle II. The aim of this peculiar post-1492 stratification process has been to aggregate an upwardly mobile and putatively 'white' racial group that is stratified internally and that strives to validate its own ascendancy using a shifting range of 'white' cultural practices which are defined as 'white' not on any presumed biological basis, but on the basis of "ideological whiteness"--a field of racial discourse and representation.

Principle III. The conceptual content of this historic and politically-charged discursive field is sustained by racial agents who in many ways articulate and justify the suppression of "ideological blackness" (and every form of non-whiteness this may entail) which may be accomplished by many formal and informal means of institutional domination, routinized interpersonal interactions, cultural imperialism, or by any other racialized means of information control.

Principle IV. As a generative principle of racism, "ideological whiteness" refers to a dual behavioral process entailing enactments of identify formation and resource access legitimation, both of which were practices once overtly recognized as aspects of "white supremacy," but which now may be more subtly and covertly reproduced as an observable and routine set of implicitly prescriptive, but explicitly disavowed white supremacist beliefs and practices to which all who identify as 'white' (or who behave as 'whitened') are expected to adhere--especially white males--if they wish to maintain their own racial standing as members of these two privileged 'white' groups and assert their negotiable right to privileged resource access.

Princple V. Collectively, the 'white' and/or 'whitened' members of this racially privileged global population tend to bolster their shared political intent to impose patterns of restricted resource access on racially subordinant populations, and aim to preserve their presumably non-negotiable right to prescribe, and even dictate, lessor resource access rights for certain upwardly mobile members of the 'non-white' population whose internalized racism, reliable complicity, and carefully scrutinized willingness to cooperate with racial dominates is always required and rewarded.


[This is an updated and extended 1999 version of a detailed definition of racism developed by Dr. Helan Enoch Page (Associate Professor, Anthropology Department, UMASS-Amherst) and distributed at the American Anthropological Association in 1993. This short manuscript has been cited in several publications including books, dissertations and will be cited soon in a forthcoming book by Pem Buck (1999 or 2000), called: "Work Your Fingers to the Bone: An Anthropological History of Whiteness and the Elite in Kentucky": Temple University Press. Anyone is free to use this definition as long as Dr. Page is credited for its development and for its influence on any analyses or practical program stemming from its use].
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