Things you should know

Why do different races exist?

  • Woah, big question! The prevailing scientific theory is that humanity began as one group that started life in Africa and migrated to ​various regions of the earth. Our physical features then evolved based on the location our ancestors settled in. Those that stayed South and West adapted to thrive in hot, dry areas while those who migrated North and East adapted to thrive in cold climates. So, we like to think that there is only one race but several tribes.

  •   Bill Nye explains it well here. 

What's the difference between race and culture?

  • Race refers to a person's ethnic group while culture refers to how groups of people live, what they believe in, their art and other forms of expression, and how they act. For example, a person of African descent who grew up and was raised in the Caribbean and America would be considered part of the Black ethnic group. However, they would likely share in both Caribbean and American cultures. Likewise, America is filled with Americans of European descent who consider their race to be White and their culture American. Culture can be acquired by passing down knowledge but race cannot.

But can't Blackness and Whiteness be considered cultures, especially in America?

  • Definitely. America has a proven history of systemic racism ( racial prejudice built into institutions) and so has relegated certain cultural preferences as definitive of both blackness and whiteness. 

What is systemic racism?

  • The racial prejudice against black and brown people that's built into governmental, health, and wealth systems.

  • Learn more here and here

What is privilege?

  • Social privilege; being granted various supremacy or precedence above other cultural, ethnic, or social groups ​by the dominant group in society. 

What is "cultural appropriation"?

  • ​The acquisition, adoption, or mimicry of one or more elements of another culture. 

  • This is typically unwelcome when applied by the dominant culture especially when credit is not given.

What's the difference between prejudice, bias, and discrimination

  • Prejudice and bias are similar in that they are both based on pre-judgment. However, prejudice is usually a negative prejudgment against something while bias can be positive.

  • Discrimination is an action taken based on prejudice or bias.

What is racism, specifically?

  • Bias or prejudice rooted in the belief that one or more races or cultures are inferior to one's own or the dominant culture + action to exclude those deemed inferior or inaction to prevent exclusion of marginalized groups.

  • The act of supporting the marginalization of or directly marginalizing specific racial groups based on prejudice against their ethnic group.

Can Black and Brown people be racist?

  • Black and Brown people can be prejudiced and biased but not necessarily racist because racism assumes dominance. So while it might seem that some Black and Brown people are racist, they are not the dominant group and cannot contribute to or benefit from systemic racism.

What does BIPOC mean and how is it different?

  • BIPOC is an acronym for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. It refers to ALL people of color collectively instead of focusing on a specific subsection of that group i.e. Black people. The term People of Color (POC) does the same thing. Both are these categories are a step forward but can dilute focus if not employed correctly. 

Is it offensive to use the terms BIPOC and POC?

  • It can be if the issue at hand refers to a specific group. For example, when speaking about racial issues that affect Black people specifically it's best to stay focused on that group instead of broadening the issue.