What is everyday racism?

Everyday racism is a sociological concept introduced in the 1980s by social scientist Philomena Essed to give a name to the ways in which racism manifests itself in everyday interactions. It is those moment when you are reminded that your are not white. This can be a remark, a gesture, a look and/or an action.

Everyday racism is a socio-methodological concept that identifies racism in its everyday, mundane and routine practices and reconciles the divide between individual or interactional perceptions of racism and the institutional or structural understandings by introducing a complex of socializing practices and processes as weaving together the two in the existences of the people who are actually affected. To quote Essed’s definition of its characteristics at length:

‘Everyday racism is a process in which (1) socialized racist notions are integrated in meanings that make practices immediately definable and manageable, (2) practices with racist implications become in themselves familiar and repetitive, and (3) underlying racial and ethnic relations are actualized and reinforced through these routine or familiar practices in everyday situations. Everyday racism is experienced directly and vicariously. Because it permeates everyday life, it has a more damaging effect on health than incidental major confrontations with racism. Everyday racism involves cumulative practices, often covert and hard to pinpoint. Specific incidents acquire meaning in terms of the three major processes through which racism operates in everyday life: the marginalization of racial and ethnic groups, the problematization of (attributed) group characteristics and culture, and the repression of (potential) counter action.’

It bears repetition that everyday racism is not the occurrence of major overt forms of incidental racial threats or attacks but rather subtle, insidious and covert practices, utterances and encounters that are embedded in the social fibre and therefore are harder to distinguish. It should also not be misconstrued as ultimately harmless and benign as the suppressed effects of its routine inflictions may cause long-lasting and unchecked emotional and psychosocial damage to its victims. It is therefore the imperative of this organization to employ the revelatory tools of thinking through the prism of everyday racism in order to confront racial injustices as they are manifested today.

How do you recognize everydayRacism?

Everyday racism is not something that you have to test scientifically to know what it is. You can recognize everyday racism by the fact that you directly or indirectly are reminded that you are not white.

What will you do with my story?

While we’re working on a website, we will collect all our stories, and present these on this blog.
Based on the stories we will:

  • organize events to share knowledge and experiences with everyday racism
  • develop educational material in the form of documentaries, brochures and workshops to share knowledge on and strategies against everyday racism
  • approaching local authorities with examples and statistics based on the collected experiences
  • and more…

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