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Visions Journal

A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.


Adapted with permission from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation:


Reprinted from the "Systemic Racism" issue of Visions Journal, 2021, 16 (3), p. 43

Ally: A member of a different group who works to end a form of discrimination for a particular individual or designated group.

Anti-racism: An active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racism.

BIPOC: Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.

Colonialism: The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically. In the late 15th century, the British and French explored, fought over, and colonized places within North America which constitutes present day Canada.

Individual racism: Individual racism is structured by an ideology (set of ideas, values and beliefs) that frames one’s negative attitudes towards others; and is reflected in the willful, conscious/unconscious, direct/indirect, or intentional/unintentional words or actions of individuals. This is one of the three levels that make up systemic racism.

Institutional racism: Institutional Racism exists in organizations or institutions where the established rules, policies, and regulations are both informed by, and inform, the norms, values, and principles of institutions. These in turn, systematically produce differential treatment of, or discriminatory practices towards various groups based on race. It is enacted by individuals within organizations, who because of their socialization, training and allegiance to the organization abide by and enforce these rules, policies and regulations. It essentially maintains a system of social control that favours the dominant groups in society (status quo). This is one of the three levels that make up systemic racism.

Internalized oppression: Patterns of mistreatment of racialized groups and acceptance of the negative messages of the dominant group become established in their cultures and members assume roles as victims.

Intersectionality: The experience of the interconnected nature of ethnicity, race, creed, gender, socio-economic position etc. (cultural, institutional and social), and the way they are imbedded within existing systems and define how one is valued.

Structural/societal racism: Structural or Societal Racism pertains to the ideologies upon which society is structured. These ideologies are inscribed through rules, policies and laws; and represents the ways in which the deep rooted inequities of society produce differentiation, categorization, and stratification of society’s members based on race. Participation in economic, political, social, cultural, judicial and educational institutions also structure this stratification. This is one of the three levels that make up systemic racism.

Systemic racism: This is an interlocking and reciprocal relationship between the individual, institutional and structural levels which function as a system of racism. These various levels of racism operate together in a lockstep model and function together as whole system. These levels are:

  • Individual (within interactions between people)
  • Institutional (within institutions and systems of power)
  • Structural or societal (among institutional and across society)

Please see individual racism, institutional racism, and structural/societal racism

White: A social colour. The term is used to refer to people belonging to the majority group in Canada. It is recognized that there are many different people who are “White” but who face discrimination because of their class, gender, ethnicity, religion, age, language, or geographical origin. Grouping these people as “White” is not to deny the very real forms of discrimination that people of certain ancestry, such as Italian, Portuguese, Jewish, Armenian, Greek, etc., face because of these factors.

White privilege: The inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice. This concept does not imply that a white person has not worked for their accomplishments but rather, that they have not faced barriers encountered by others.


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