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Understanding Racism

Since their contact with Europeans, Aboriginal peoples in Canada have experienced different forms of racism which have negatively affected all aspects of their lives and well-being. This paper—which is an exploration of the concept of race, its history and contexts—is the first of three papers that will discuss forms of racism within societies.

In the 1600s scientists began investigating differences between groups and classifying them as different and distinct races.  By the 1800s, race was used to create social hierarchies. This paper describes a number of forms of racism: epistemic, relational, structural, symbolic, and embodied.  These ideological constructions of racial difference are frequently used to generate and reinforce structural inequities and a cycle of oppression. The authors emphasize that race is not a biological fact, but rather a socially constructed concept that was created—and is maintained—to justify disparities in the distribution of resources and power.

Use this resource to learn about the

  • historical construction of race.
  • different forms of racism.

Citation: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. (2013). Understanding Racism. Prince George,  BC: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health.

Tags: Aboriginal health , Critical works in health equity, Key concepts, Racism/racialization, Document

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