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Left and Right Disagree on “Racism” Definition.

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Left and Right Disagree on “Racism” Definition.

For conservatives, the definition of “racism” encompasses a narrower range of thought and behavior than it does for leftists or progressives. Conservatives see racism as an endorsement of one’s own racial group’s superiority, a belief about another racial group’s inferiority, or harmful behavior directed at someone specifically because of their race. Conservatives often require a higher standard of proof, relying on explicit evidence rather than implicit assumptions to charge someone with racist behavior.On the other hand, progressives define racism as not necessarily being limited to conscious intent, but as encompassing unconscious bias fundamental to everyone’s cultural upbringing and reaffirmed through systemic structures designed to support white people. They perceive racism as built into people’s way of being or seeing in the world. Therefore, progressives may charge someone with racism without explicit evidence the behavior or remarks of the accused were based on race, due to their belief that racism can operate as unconscious bias. Because progressives perceive many fundamental societal structures as built on systemic racism — meaning certain groups have more power than others — they view racism as linked to power, holding the belief that disadvantaged groups cannot be racist toward groups that have power.In the case of Trump’s tweets, the right sees a lack of explicit proof that Trump views the Squad as inferior due to their race, or denies that he criticized them based solely on their race and not their ideas. Progressives, on the other hand, perceive Trumps’s attempts to curb illegal immigration and the “go back” remarks as evidence of unconscious bias against immigrants and people of color.

We break down the differing “racism” definitions and hundreds of other terms in more detail in the AllSides Red Blue Dictionary. Understanding what other groups mean when they use certain terms can help us to appreciate other people’s worldview — even when we disagree.

Julie Mastrine is the Director of Marketing at AllSides. She has a Center bias.

This piece was reviewed by Samantha Shireman, Information Architect at AllSides, who has a Lean Left bias. It was also reviewed by AllSides Daily News Editor Henry Brechter, who has a Center bias.

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