Concentrating attention exclusively on thoughts or acts of personal prejudice.

Reinforces the common misconception that racism is simply a personal problem that should be resolved by shaming, punishing, or re-educating the individual offender. Often leads to long, inconclusive debates about what is in a person’s “heart,” and whether or not they intended to be hurtful or discriminatory. Perpetuates false notions of individual agency in our national consciousness.

A celebrity or prominent business owner is surreptitiously recorded using racial slurs or otherwise demeaning people of color, particularly a group he or she relies upon as employees, consumers, and/or sources of substantive content or inspiration. Media and general public focus moral indignation on the hurtful words rather than any corresponding record of discrimination in their business practices or impact.

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In This Section:

Intro: Seven Harmful Racial Discourse Practices to Avoid
  1. Individualizing Racism
  2. Falsely Equating Incomparable Acts
  3. Diverting From Race
  4. Portraying Government as Overreaching
  5. Prioritizing Intent Over Impact
  6. Coded Language
  7. Silencing History

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“Creating the Space to Talk About Race in Your School” content on this web site and in our "Racial Justice in Education" resource guide © 2017 National Education Association, in collaboration with Race Forward.