Racism is the archetypal foci of categorism, so much so that the word racism is sometimes used as synonymous with categorism itself. This gives us both a wide and a narrow definition of racism.
- Racism - wide definition: Prejudice, bigotry and discrimination at any level, based on a categorization of people, whichever this categorization may be – ageism can be called “age racism”, sexism can be called “sex racism”, and so on.
- Racism - narrow definition: Prejudice, bigotry and discrimination at any level, based on a categorization of people, when this categorization is one of “race” or ethnicity or skin color or similar.
The narrow definition is by far the most common. When the wider definition is used, it's usually simply for the lack of a better word: The word categorism is much less well known than the word racism, and the word bigotry has some very limiting connotations.
When people argue over what the word “racism” should mean, it's usually because one side or both is trying to limit the definition to only include a certain [[Levels of context and hegemony |level of context]]. One side trying to limit the definition of racism so that it would apply only to the micro level, reducing racism to be only about bigoted individuals and bullying in small groups – which invisibilizes society's systemic racism. Meanwhile, another side trying to limit the definition of racism so that the term would apply only to racist structures which are traditionally hegemonic in a specific macro scale context – usually the United States of America.
As a focus of categorism, racism is a broad categorization focus. It contains several sub-foci, both of the categorization kind and of the targeting kind. Categorization foci within racism includes categorism foci such as colorism, cultural racism and race-biologism, se below. Apartweltism can also be categorized as a sub-focus of racism. Targeting foci within racism includes categorism foci such as afrophobia , antiromanism, orientalism, occidentalism and gingerism. Antisemitism and antimuslimism are sub-foci of racism when Jews and Muslims are viewed as a matter of “race”, but are instead sub-foci of religism when Jews and Muslims are viewed as a matter of religious community or faith.
Racism based on skin-color. May target specific colors or entire color spectrums. When targeting more than one spectrum, it's typically about having separate sets of prejudices for those who have darker skin (than the person or social community which holds the prejudice) and for those who have lighter.
Racism based on ethnic/cultural background. By presenting a culture as if it was a monolith which you should be either for or against, cultural racism against people of a certain culture can be done both by presenting the targeted culture as “inferior” and by presenting it as “not inferior” while highlighting something which is oppressive or otherwise harmful within a culture. The first option burdens the people in the targeted culture with collective guilt and stigmatization or even open infantilization. The second option seeks instead to normalize all violence and oppression and categorism done to members of the targeted culture - as long as the people who do the violence and oppression and categorism belong to the same culture.
Racism based on pseudoscience notions of “biological races”. Racism grew from religism, blooming into a complete pseudoscience which was very popular in the first half of the twentieth century. This set of ideas includes ideas of the Jewish minority being a distinct biological race, which is why antisemitism can be seen as a form of racism as well as a form of religism.
Examples of expressions
- Category original sin: Arguing that Africans (and perhaps also other dark-skinned people) are somehow the descendants of Noah's son Ham... and thus God has commanded that all Africans should be held in slavery forever as punishment for Ham once having seen his father Noah drunk and naked.
- Mysterious Alleged Incompetence: A new engineer is hired at a company where almost all engineers are white. When the new engineer turns out to be black, some of the coworkers have to actively hide their annoyance. Soon they start criticizing his job performance, even when there is nothing to criticize. Rather than making up specific things, they leave it vague. He has done bad things, everybody knows that. What kind of bad things? Well, many kinds! What kinds of bad things, then? Well, bad ones!
- Hate-crimes: A white supremacist group spreading hateful propaganda against people of color, escalating to incite violence.
- Privateermongering: Constructing discrimination, bullying and outright attacks people of color (or specifically against the men) as if it was a valid “preemptive self-defense” based on some idea about said category being violent or otherwise evil.
- Stigmatization: Associating dark skin with all kinds of negative traits.
Racism in example texts
- A frivolous arrest: The woman is most likely targeted for (although not only for) her race. The copcaller as well as the cops are somewhat likely to have negative stereotypes about people of color in general and particularly against the non-white person in any mixed race relationship.
- Flexible bullies: While the bullying against Suzie and Jenny is racism on the individual and group level, the bullying against Suzie is also connected to racism on the structural and systemic levels.
Must race exist for racism to exist?
No: "Prejudice, bigory and discrimination based on a categorization of people" can exist whether or not the categorization is valid. Humans who are subjected to racism are real human beings whether or not it is in any way reasonable to divide them into different "races".
Categorizations are somethings which humans do: The categorizations are mental, social and neurological constructions, they do not exist in external reality. While many categorizations exist in the sense that they help us understand the world or has grown as benevolvent or at least neutral constructs, the concept of race came into existence only to justify slavery and persecution. Used as biology, it is pseudoscience to divide people into "races".