Racism Yardstick: It's All about Oppression

By Camfield, David | Winnipeg Free Press, September 3, 2013 | Go to article overview

Racism Yardstick: It's All about Oppression


Camfield, David, Winnipeg Free Press


What is racism? Manitoba media outlets have been full of coverage of the charge that a 2012 email sent by deputy premier Eric Robinson was racist.

The controversy took off after the media reported that Osborne House CEO Barbara Judt had filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission alleging racism. Provincial Tory Leader Brian Pallister and others have repeated that charge. As a result, as Free Press columnist Dan Lett puts it, "Robinson has been forced to fight the allegations he is a racist."

Racism is repugnant and harmful. That's why what's most worrying about the ongoing furor is the confusion about what racism is -- and isn't.

In his 2002 book Racism: A Short History, historian George Fredrickson offers an excellent starting point for clarifying what racism is: "Racism exists when one ethnic group or historical collectivity dominates, excludes, or seeks to eliminate another on the basis of differences that it believes are hereditary and unalterable."

Fredrickson's summary contains three important insights. First, racism is a social or collective phenomenon, not simply a matter of individual behaviour. It involves a relationship between groups of people, one oppressing and the other oppressed. Of course, these groups are made up of individuals. People in the dominant group may actively practise racism, passively allow it to go on or consciously try to challenge it.

Second, a group of people who experience racism are treated as being somehow inherently different than members of the dominant group. Skin colour, other physical features, religion and cultural practices have all been singled out by dominant groups to define what makes oppressed groups inherently different.

Third, racism is entirely a creation of society. There is nothing natural about it or the different groups it creates.

As Fredrickson and many other researchers have shown, racism hasn't always existed. It spread and became a global phenomenon as European powers conquered and colonized other parts of the world.

Racism is quite different from how earlier conquerors sometimes treated the vanquished, and it's also different from how religious groups persecuted each other. With racism, the oppressed people are treated as inherently different and tainted.

Two examples illustrate this. The ancient Greeks saw people as either civilized or barbarians but this status was not something one inherited. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Racism Yardstick: It's All about Oppression
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.