Racism isn't always loud and clear — sometimes, it wears a disguise.

Criss Angel in a desert wearing two different kinds of masks.

Exploring the concept of overt racism vs. covert racism can help you break down the subtle nuances that make them distinct yet equally harmful.

Overt Racism: The Obvious Offender

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Overt racism is blatant and explicit, involving direct discriminatory actions or remarks based on race. It's the kind of racism that smacks you in the face, leaving no room for interpretation.

Example: A person being denied a job solely because of their racial background.

A graphic that explains,

Covert Racism: The Sneaky Saboteur

Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck in an old black and white animation creeping slowly through a village.

Covert racism is more discreet and subtle, showing itself through subtle, sometimes difficult-to-detect behaviors, biases, or systemic structures that disadvantage certain racial groups without an overt or intentional display of prejudice.

Example: Microaggressions, like making assumptions about someone's intelligence based on their race.

Unveiling Microaggressions: The Covert Culprits

A person says,

Microaggressions are subtle, often unintentional acts that communicate derogatory or negative messages. While they may seem harmless on the surface, they contribute to covert racism.

Example: Asking someone of Asian descent, "Where are you really from?" implies they don't belong. Rihanna looking shocked and saying,

Systemic Racism: The Silent Puppeteer

A graphic that reads, Systemic racism involves policies and practices embedded in societal structures that disproportionately disadvantage certain racial groups. It's the invisible force shaping opportunities and outcomes.

Example: Racial profiling leading to higher rates of police stops for people of color.

Animated changing faces of dark-skinned males wearing mask that says Not a threat

The Power of Recognizing Both

Acknowledging both overt and covert racism is crucial for dismantling systemic inequalities. It empowers us to challenge discrimination at every level and work towards a more inclusive society.

Protestors with signs in favor of ending racial discrimination.

Time for a Quiz

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Which of these are examples of covert racism?

A. Complimenting a person of color by saying they are "articulate" or "well-spoken."

B. Making comments about a person of color's natural hair, such as touching it without permission or making inappropriate remarks.

C. Assuming someone's national origin based on their appearance and asking questions like "Where are you from?" as a subtle form of microaggression.

D. Using racial slurs and derogatory language openly in public.


Select any answer from above that applies to covert racism:

Take Action

Remember: understanding the difference between overt vs. covert racism is just the first step — it's the actions we take that truly shape the world we want to live in.

Heart shaped figure filled with people of different races holding up a sign that says Love Knows No Race


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