In order to address racism effectively, we have to understand how it operates at multiple levels. Often, what people think of first is interpersonal racism, but in order to eliminate racism, we must address systemic forms of racism — institutional and structural. Dr. Camara Jones' The Gardener's Tale offers a theoretical framework to help us understand racism at three levels: institutionalized, personally mediated, and internalized racism. The allegorical narrative of The Gardener’s Tale has two flower boxes, one filled with rich soil which produces bright red and desirable flowers, and the other filled with poor soil, producing only pink and drab flowers. Understanding that the flowers bloom according to their environment and resources, and not according to some inborn aptitude, reveals biases in the way our society thinks about groups of individuals.
Dr. Jones uses this metaphor to illustrate social, physical, and psychological components inherent in the human condition, to help us understand the impact of racism on the health of the public. Today's challenge allows us to expand what we see when we think about forms of racism and understand the importance of addressing the racism that exists in systems and institutions.