Levels of Racism
Racism refers to prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people based on their membership to a particular ethnic or racial group. Often, what comes to mind when we think about racism are outright actions of abuse or oppression. However, there are many levels of racism.
Understanding Levels of Racism:

Internalized: Privately held ideas, beliefs, and prejudice about the superiority of one race and subsequent inferiority of another.

Interpersonal: When an individual’s privately held beliefs affect that person’s interactions with others. This can lead to racist rhetoric or action.

Institutional: Race-based unfair treatment, discriminatory practices, withheld opportunities at the institutional and organizational level that benefit one race over another.

Systemic/structural: Racism becomes structural when organizations and institutions (mostly led by those who benefit from inheriting power because of race-based inequities) continue to perpetuate inequality by upholding unfair policies, practices, and cultures that disadvantage people of color.

Understanding how racism affects us and those around us helps us to identify racist actions and structures and be more prepared to call them out.

Today’s content is tailored to help us gain a deeper understanding of how racism exists at all levels and how to move forward.



  • Watch “Allegories on Race and Racism.” This video takes a look at all levels of racism and discusses the importance of recognizing the existence and prevalence of systemic racism and its effects. (20 mins)


  • In this episode of Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast, featured guest Chiraag Bains, Former Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for Racial Justice and Equity, speaks on the historical racial justice work happening at the federal level here in the U.S. (51 mins)