The System of Racial Inequity

World Trust’s holistic frame shows the continual interaction between the internal (personal) and external (interpersonal, System of Inequity Graphic CTCstructural/institutional) manifestations of bias.  This self-perpetuating system must be interrupted at both the internal and external levels for lasting change to occur.

The importance of continual self-work to understand and heal one’s own internalized privilege/oppression is integral to the ability of changemakers to analyze and dismantle systemic inequity.  This frame is an important component of our workshops. We offer it here to support personal insight and renewal as well as to build capacity to analyze inequity in policy, law and institutions such as education, health care, corporations and the judicial system.

Our culture avoids identifying and analyzing the policies and arrangements that perpetuate inequity.  World Trust seeks to support, both intellectually and spiritually, those who are addressing what the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change calls, “… the subtler, racialized patterns in policies and practices… that generate differences in well being.”

The World Trust film Cracking the Codes is designed to explain the system of inequity and the stories in the film are organized around this frame.

Learn more about explaining systemic inequity to a broad audience here.

–prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Unconscious or implicit bias refers to biases that we carry without awareness. To learn more about implicit bias and to take an implicit association test online, visit Project Implicit at
sum total of ways of living, including1) values, 2) beliefs, 3) aesthetic standards, 4) linguistic expression, 5) patterns of thinking, 6) behavioral norms, and 7) styles of communication which a group of people has developed to assure its survival in a particular environment. We are socialized through “cultural conditioning” to adopt ways of thinking related to societal grouping.
–the feeling of being included in a group or culture.
Interpersonal Racism
–actions that perpetuate inequalities on the basis of race.  Such behaviors may be intentional or unintentional; unintentional acts may be racist in their consequence.
Institutional Racism
–laws, customs, traditions and practices that systematically result in racial inequalities in a society.  This is the institutionalization of personal racism.
Internalized Racism/ Oppression
–the internalization of conscious or unconscious attitudes regarding inferiority or differences by the victims of systematic oppression. The personal conscious or subconscious acceptance of the dominant society’s racist views, stereotypes and biases of one’s ethnic group. It gives rise to patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving that result in discriminating, minimizing, criticizing, finding fault, invalidating, and hating oneself while simultaneously valuing the dominant culture.
–the systematic mistreatment of the powerless by the powerful, resulting in the targeting of certain groups within the society for less of its benefits – involves a subtle devaluing or non-acceptance of the powerless group – may be economic, political, social, and /or psychological. Oppression also includes the belief of superiority or “righteousness” of the group in power.
Personal Racism
–individual attitudes regarding the inferiority of one group and the superiority of another that have been learned or internalized either directly (i.e. negative experiences) or indirectly (i.e. imitation and modeling of significant others’ reactions, affective responses to the media); these attitudes may be conscious or unconscious.
Power and Economics-are the engine that “drive” a system that provides a rationale and elements of cognitive dissonance that is divisive.  
–a negative attitude toward a person or group, based on pre-judgment and evaluation, often using one’s own or one’s group’s standards as the “right” and “only” way.
Privilege/Internalized Entitlement
– Through the lens of race, privilege is about the concrete benefits of access to resources and social rewards and the power to shape the norms and values of society that white people receive, unconsciously or consciously, by virtue of their skin color. There are unearned entitlements—things that all people should have—such as feeling safe in public spaces, free speech, the ability to work in a place where we feel we can do our best work, and being valued for what we can contribute. When unearned entitlement is restricted to certain groups, however, it becomes the form of privilege that Peggy McIntosh calls “unearned advantage.” Unearned advantage gives white people a competitive edge we are reluctant to even acknowledge, much less give up. The other type of privilege is conferred dominance, which is giving one group (white people) power over another: the unequal distribution of resources and rewards.
–the systematic oppression of people of color; occurs at the individual, internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and/or cultural levels; may be overt or covert, intentional or unintentional.
Structural Racism/Racialization
–The word “racism” is commonly understood to refer to instances in which one individual intentionally or unintentionally targets others for negative treatment because of their skin color or other group-based physical characteristics. This individualistic conceptualization is too limited. Racialized outcomes do not require racist actors. Structural racism/racialization refers to a system of social structures that produces cumulative, durable, race-based inequalities. It is also a method of analysis that is used to examine how historical legacies, individuals, structures, and institutions work interactively to distribute material and symbolic advantages and disadvantages along racial lines.