Passive Racism

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.


Question:

I’ve always been taught that racism does not have anything to do with just mere dominance. It has to do with the “willful” and “hateful” act of purposely denying another race(s) of the same rights to earn a living, obtain housing on an equal level, get gainful employment with the same equal pay for equal effort. It is not based on the fact that white people outnumber a particular race. It is based on using the power structure against another race or races so that they never lose their dominance in every pursuit of legal and fair rights to the pursuit of happiness via employment, free worship, voting rights, etc.

Answer:

I agree, but I think your definition fits our country’s situation: There is no measurement of our society (that I know of) that shows parity between white people and people of color.

I would add that it is also racist to be aware of a biased situation and permit it to exist. You could call this passive racism.

DiversityInc is a business publication, so I will point out some business implications of active and passive racism: lower-quality work force, incomplete market penetration, lack of sustainability, exposure to liabilities (like lawsuits), lack of innovation, etc.

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