Differences in terms

I keep seeing arguments about the word racism, mostly because folks have different definitions and it trips the conversation up. This is usually because folks see the world through different lenses, and racism is not the only word this happens with.

Think of the way a layman uses the word ‘theory’ (I have an idea, maybe it will work) and the way the a scientist uses the word theory (I had an idea that I called a hypothesis, I tested the shit out of it and it is now a theory). I honestly wish most of society would adapt the scientific use of the word theory and add hypothesis into the general terminology. It is so much more specific and clear!  

Racism is similar. The basic dictionary definition is prejudice based on race, although The Oxford English Dictionary adds “It is often based on a desire to dominate or a belief in the inferiority of another race”. Once power dynamics are involved in the definition things change from the basic definition, as there are obvious differences in who has power in our society. If we take this more nuanced definition for our sociological lens it becomes harder to see how any person of color could be racist, as they are lacking any power with which to dominate. Much like the word theory, I wish society would adopt the more nuanced definition of racism and add racial prejudice into the general terminology. It is so much more specific and clear…


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