It is essential to begin a discussion on individual versus institutional racism with a comprehensive definition of the very term that serves as the salient topic. �Racism has been defined as a system of oppression, whereby persons of a dominant racial group (Whites, in the United States) exercise power or privilege over those in nondominant groups� (Malott & Schaefle, 2015, p. 361). Individual racism is often less subtle than institutional racism; however, the product of each form of racism is destructive (Randall, 2008). Individual racism may result in injury, death, property destruction, or an unwillingness to provide opportunities or services based on discriminatory practices. Institutional racism may be more covert; however, this form of racism includes the implementation of practices, procedures, and policies that marginalize individuals who are members of racial minorities and largely decrease or diminish this population from gaining equity in access to opportunities and goods/services of equal value to those afforded to the majority race. For example, institutional racism affects minority members� abilities to gain equal access to high quality health care. On the other hand, individual racism is more accurately characterized by localized instances of racial disputes that may result in a group of individuals committing violent acts against members of a minority population (Randall, 2008).
Individual racism collectively leads to factors that precipitate institutional racism (Fasching-Varner, 2009). As individuals fail to challenge racism, they promote a perpetuation of the status quo on a broader scale across the population, thereby marginalizing the essential nature of ascribing equal value to all human beings regardless of race. Moreover, just as individual racism leads to collective racism, the converse of this concept is also readily apparent. Collective racism contributes to a subconscious racial motivation to preserve the privileged status of the majority race on an individual level; therefore, individuals translate this motivation in equating it with permission to adopt the mindset of supremacy. �Invoking a more expansive view of discrimination provides an analytic by which we might look at conditions by which racism and subjugation exist, and perhaps even get at the irrational ways that racism is coded� (Fashing-Varner, 2009, p. 824). It is critical to note that individuals must acknowledge the very existence of discrimination in order that they may effectively begin to address this inflammatory issue and serve as integral components in working towards a future in which unfair advantage is eradicated (Fasching-Varner, 2009).

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  • Fasching-Varner, K. J. (2009). No! The team ain’t alright! The institutional and individual problematics of race.�Social Identities,�15(6), 811-829. doi:10.1080/13504630903372520
  • Malott, K. M., & Schaefle, S. (2015). Addressing Clients’ Experiences of Racism: A Model for Clinical Practice.�Journal Of Counseling & Development,93(3), 361-369. doi:10.1002/jcad.12034
  • Randall,�V.�R. (2008). What is Institutional Racism? Retrieved from