Internalized racism is where you are racist against your own race, even against yourself! It is also called internalized oppression, internal colonization and the colonized mind. If you grow up in America as a person of colour it is hard to avoid: you are told in a thousand and one ways that “white is right” and that you are not – not just from white people, from school and television, but even by people of your own race, maybe even by your own family. You are brainwashed to see yourself like white people do, seeing yourself through the white lens.
Most people of colour know they are just as good as white people, but that has to be believed in the teeth of not just the racist messages that they get all the time but, even worse, those that were laid in their hearts when they were too young to understand. As Kenneth Clark’s doll experiments showed, internalized racism affects even six-year-olds. Most people will believe anything at some level if they hear it enough times. That is how ads on television work.
It can lead to shame, anger, confusion, self-hatred and self-doubt. Studies have shown that black Americans with high degrees of internalized racism are more likely to be violent, get fat, get diabetes, get high blood pressure and have unhappy marriages. That is not to say that it causes those things all by itself, but to point out that it has measurable effects (well, correlations). Internalized racism itself is measured by the degree to which you believe the white stereotypes about your race.
Some stuff that come from internalized racism:
- “good hair”
- “acting white”
- skin lightening
- “not being black enough”
- wearing coloured contact lenses
- Black women are ugly and disagreeable
- Black men are no good and undependable
- Life will be better if I act or look more like white people
- That to be black you must act like the black people on television
- That to be black you must have certain interests, tastes and beliefs
Most black people on television are acting out stereotypes. Even – or especially – on BET.
God does not make mistakes. God made you to look a certain way and gave you certain gifts to use in the course of your life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of it. Nothing. It is only narrow-minded, brainwashed people who want you to believe otherwise. Who want to make you think your eyes or nose or hair or lips or skin colour are no good, that there is something wrong with them. Who laugh at your interests and things you want to do because they do not “fit” your race and sex. Who think there is something wrong with you for just being you.
Internalized racism is partly why these statements are wrong:
- “I have a black friend who says….”
- racism = prejudice + power
And why this one is necessary:
- “Black is beautiful”
- growing up Nezua
- The Wigger Fallacy
- the white lens
- blacks are racist – mainly against themselves
- affected statements:
- internalized racism in action:
- acceptable blackness