Racism has always existed in some form in humans. It is a horrific characteristic that permeates every facet of society with no tangible justification for its use. Racism can be defined as having prejudice, discrimination, or animosity perpetrated on an individual solely because of their race on the grounds that one’s own race is superior to the other (Cud, 2006, pp 12). Racism appears in many forms from mild to severe, overt to discrete, and verbal to violence, leaving emotional scars for generations. There is one embodiment of this mental irrationality that is rarely taken into consideration when professionals search for explanation even though it is easily discovered in both the racist and the victim – Internalized Racial Oppression. Pyle (2010) characterizes it as an autonomic prejudgment lurking inside the mind, creating a superior/inferior ideology held by everyone. Hence it is she wonders why no one cares about this subliminal judgement error as it goes direct to the root of racism. This paper proposes to investigate the manifestation of Internalized Racial Oppression within the racist and the victim to determine how important it is and how eradication could reduce the prevalence of racism.
Pike (2010) explains she came across the phenomenon of Internalized Racial Oppression quite by accident but was perplexed to discover most colleagues refuse to study it. As she continued researching this mental issue, she realized this form of racism is considered taboo to discuss let alone research. In essence, scholars and professionals alike are actively oppressing a possible answer to why racism exists in every society (Pike, 2010, pp 553). Her concept is how can one not study this core component if one truly wants to find the answer to elimination of racism: “I assumed it to be common knowledge that all systems of inequality are maintained and reproduced, in part, through their internalization by the oppressed.” (pike, 2010, pp 552). The context is simple, remove preconceived notions involving self-worth and the expression of racism never begins. Elimination at the source will stop the appearance from coming to fruition.
Does Internalized Racial Oppression create the building blocks of racism? In his article on oppression in Colonialism, Hilton (2011) details the generational influences dating back to every society that colonized an area. These subtle mental biases caused the colonist to oppress the natives because of their subliminal sense of superiority while the downtrodden allow the oppression to occur due to an inner sense of inferiority. Therefore, indirectly supporting Pyle’s conclusion of generational perpetuation of latent ideals of self-value.
The case for Internalized Racial Oppression as the trigger mechanism of racial thoughts and actions as presented by Pyle (2010) clearly indicates a positive determination. As with any undesired behavior, once the source of the problem is found, the task of removal is necessary. However, dealing with negatively impacting unconscious thought processes is far more difficult than removing a thorn from the injury site. Pyle (2010) does not offer an adequate answer on how to remove Internalized Racial Oppression rom the inner reaches of the mind. Eliminating beliefs so ingrained in the psyche that they are happen intuitively requires adaptive behavior modifications in the conscious world and must be repeated several times before the subliminal process is permanently changed. The fallacy in this approach is the willingness of the individuals to participate in this endeavor because if they wanted to change their behavior, they already would use this corrective technique.
This paper examined the idea presented by Pyle (2010) of Internalized Racial Oppression as being the foundation of racist manifestations and concurred with her. This basal thought process will require behavior modified activities and strategies to eliminate the subliminal process. Although a substantial effort must be made to affect this change, it is possible. Every individual has the ability to reshape and remold their thinking processes to an equitable position that removes racism from them.
- Cud, A. (2006). Analyzing Oppression: Studies in Feminist Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Hilton, B. (2011). Frantz Fanon and Colonialism: A Psychology of Oppression. Journal of Scientific Psychology, 45 – 59.
- Pyke, K. (2010). What is Internalized Racial Oppression and Why Don’t We Study it? Acknowledging Racism’s Hidden Injuries. Sociological Perspectives, 53, 4, 551 – 572.