"Only White People can be Racist: What does Power have to do with Prejudice?"

Pooja Sawrikar
Ilan Barry Katz


Social researchers and activists who use the sociological definition of racism – that 'Racism = Prejudice + Power' – generally aim to attain racial equality by equalising differences in social power among racial groups. However, this definition can be taken to extreme when the role of social power is given disproportionately more weight than the role prejudice in explaining the occurrence and entrenchment of racism in society, such as assertions that racism is synonymous with White supremacy. Such a definition is logically flawed, demonstrates reverse racism, is disempowering for individuals from all racial groups who strive for racial equality, and absolves those who do not. We examine how the recent literature on cultural competency may provide a more effective strategic framework for reducing racism. Cultural competency is a move away from ethnocentrism and towards respect and value for cultural difference, with no racial group treated as a reference point around which the discourse on race relations revolves. In short, by properly acknowledging the role of prejudice, and not exclusively focusing on power, all racial groups can be better empowered to take responsibility for protecting the human right to racial equality.

Full Text:



Allport. G. 1979, The Nature of Prejudice, Addison-Wesley, Reading, United Kingdom.

Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, http://www.citizenship.gov.au/

Baron, R. A. & Byrne, D. 2000, Social Psychology (9 ed.), Allyn and Bacon, Boston.

Bell, A., Bryson, C., Barnes, M., & O'Shea, R. 2005, Use of childcare among families from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, National Centre for Social Research, London.

Blalock, H.M. 1967, Toward a Theory of Minority-Group Relations, John Wiley & Sons, Toronto.

Bonilla-Silva, E. 2001, White supremacy and racism in the post Civil Rights era, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Colorado.

Bonilla-Silva, E. 1996, 'Rethinking racism: Toward a structural interpretation', American Sociological Review, vol.62 no.3, pp.465-480. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2657316

Box, L., Bignall, T., & Butt, J. 2001, Supporting parents through provision of childcare. Race Equality Unit, London.

Braithwaite, A. C. 2003, 'Selection of conceptual model/framework for guiding research interventions', Internet Journal of Advanced Nursing Practice, vol. 6, no. 1, 17 March 2008, http://www.ispub.com/ostia/index.php?xmlFilePath=journals/ijanp/vol6n1/research.xml

Brophy, J., Jhutti-Johal, Y. & McDonald, E. 2005, Minority ethnic parents, their solicitors and child protection litigation, Oxford Centre for Family Law and Policy, Oxford.

Burnett, J. 2007, 'Community cohesion: A new framework for race and diversity': Review, Race & Class, vol.48, pp. 115-118. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0306396806077102

Butt, J. 2006, Are we there yet? Identifying the characteristics of social care organisations that successfully promote diversity, Race Equality Discussion Paper 01, Social Care Institute for Excellence, London.

Campinha-Bacote, J. 2002, 'The process of cultural competence in the delivery of healthcare services: A model of care', Journal of Transcultural Nursing, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 181184. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/10459602013003003

Carmichael, S. & Hamilton, C. V. 1992, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation (Reissued.), Vintage, New York.

Cazenave, N. A. & Maddern, D. A. 1999, 'Defending the White Race: White Male Faculty Opposition to a White Racism Course', Race and Society, vol. 2, pp. 25-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1090-9524(00)00003-6

Chrandrakumar, L. 2008, 'Developing an Anti-Racism Framework for Victoria', 4 Rs Conference, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

Chandra-Shekeran, K. 2008, 'Geographies of Racism Policy Panel', 4 Rs Conference, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

Crowder, G., Ludeman, R., & Vas Dev, S. 1997, 'Charles Taylor's politics of recognition', The Flinders Journal of History & Politics, vol.19, pp.103-116.

Davies, J. E. 2007, 'The nature and causes of ethnic rivalry in Fiji', in Grant, C. H., Grant, K., Kirton, M. R.(eds) Governance, Conflict Analysis and Conflict Resolution, Ian Randle Publishers, Kingston, Jamaica.

DeVine, P.G. 1989, 'Stereotypes and prejudice: their automatic and controlled components', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 56, pp. 5-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.56.1.5

Etzioni, A. 2009, 'Minorities and the national ethos', Politics, vol.29, no.2, pp.100-110. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9256.2009.01345.x

Feagin, J. R. 2006, Systemic Racism: A Theory of Oppression, Routledge, New York.

Forehand, R., & Kotchick, B. A. 2002, 'Behavioural parent training: Current challenges and potential solutions', Journal of Child and Family Studies, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 377384.

Fraser, N. 2005, 'Reframing justice in a globalising world', New Left Review, vol.36, pp. 1-19.

Fraser, N. 1997, Justice Interruptus: Critical reflections on the Postsocialist" Condition, Routledge: New York."

Giddens, A. 1997, Sociology. Polity Press, London.

Gilroy, P. 2005, 'From a postcolonial past to a new multiculturalism', The Chronicle of Higher Education, vol.51, p. 18.

Gilroy, P. 1999, 'Between camps: race and culture in postmodernity': An inaugural lecture, Economy and Society, vol.28, no. 2, pp.183-197. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03085149900000002

Gregg, M. 2002, 'Remnants of humanism', Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, vol.16, no.3, pp.273-284. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1030431022000018645

Griffiths, M., Sawrikar, P., & Muir, K. 2009, 'Culturally appropriate mentoring for Horn of African young people in Australia'. Youth Studies Australia, vol. 28 no.2, pp.32-40.

Gustafson, D. 2005, 'Transcultural Nursing Theory from a Critical Cultural Perspective, Advances in Nursing Science, vol.28 no.1, pp.2-16. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00012272-200501000-00002

Holland, S. P. 2005, 'The last word on racism: New directions for a critical race theory'. The South Atlantic Quarterly, vol.104, no.3, pp.403-423. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/00382876-104-3-403

Honneth, A. 1996, The struggle for recognition, Polity Press: Cambridge.

Jakubowicz, A. 2008, 'Plenary', 4 Rs Conference, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

Lewis, V. 1995, Colour Power, http://www.xyonline.net/ColourP.shtml.

Miles, R. & Brown, M. 2003, 'Racism: Key Ideas', 2nd ed. Routledge, London.

Newman, L. M. 2002, 'Common Ground: Reimagining American history': Book Review, The Journal of American History, vol.89 no.3. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3092499

Noble, G. 2008, 'What is this thing called respect? Perspectives on post-multiculturalism', 4 Rs Conference, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

Noivo, E. 1998, 'Neither 'Ethnic Heroes' nor 'Racial Villains': Inter-Minority Group Racism', In Satzewich, V, Racism and social inequality in Canada: concepts, controversies, and strategies of resistance. Thompson Educational Publishing, Toronto.

Korbin, J. 2008, 'Child Neglect and Abuse across Cultures' in Robinson, G., Eickelkamp, U., Goodnow, J. & Katz, I. (eds.), Contexts of Child Development Culture, Policy and Intervention, Charles Darwin University Press, pp. 122-130.

Okihiro, G. Y. 2001, Common ground: Reimagining American history, Princeton University Press: Princeton.

Okihiro, G. Y. 1994, Margins and mainstreams: Asians in American history and culture, University of Washington Press, Seattle.

Pedersen, A. 2008, 'Prejudice reduction with respect to Aboriginal Australians and Muslim Australians: Can what is learned be unlearned?', 4 Rs Conference, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

Purnell, L. 2002, 'The Purnell Model for Cultural Competence', Journal of Transcultural Nursing, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 193196. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/10459602013003006

Rattansi, A. 2007, Racism: A very short introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780192805904.001.0001

Robotham, D. 2005, 'Cosmopolitanism and planetary humanism: The strategic universalism of Paul Gilroy', The South Atlantic Quarterly, vol.104, no.3, pp.561-582. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/00382876-104-3-561

Townsend, M. 2005, The new colour of British racism, The Observer, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/oct/30/race.world

Rossiter, P. 2008, 'Responsibility, response-ability" and the possibilities of citizenship', 4 Rs Conference, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia."

San Juan Jr, E. 2002, Racism and cultural studies: Critiques of multiculturalist ideology and the politics of difference, Duke University Press: Durham, NC. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/9780822383703

Satzewich, V. 2002, The Ukrainian Diaspora, Routledge: London and New York. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203217498

Satzewich, V. 1998, Racism and social inequality in Canada: concepts, controversies, and strategies of resistance. Thompson Educational Publishing, Toronto.

Sawrikar, P. 2009, 'Interim Report 1: Culturally appropriate service provision for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) children and families in the NSW child protection system (CPS)', Report prepared for NSW Department of Community Services (DoCS).

Sawrikar, P. & Katz, I. 2009, 'How useful is the term Culturally And Linguistically Diverse (CALD)" in the Australian social policy discourse?' Refereed Conference Paper, Australian Social Policy Conference (ASPC), University of New South Wales, Sydney."

Sawrikar, P. & Katz, I. 2008, Enhancing family and relationship service accessibility and delivery to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families in Australia, Issues paper prepared for the Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse, Issues No. 3.

Sivanandan, A., Sebestyen, A. & Seabrook, J. 2000, 'Commentary: UK Reclaiming the struggle', Race & Class, vol.42, pp.67-90. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0306396800422006

Sivanandan, A. 1993, 'Race against time: there isn't just one form of racism in Britain, but two', New Statesman & Society, vol.6, no.274, pp.16-18.

Steele, S. 2006, White guilt: How Blacks and Whites together destroyed the promise of the civil rights era, Harper Collins, New York.

Taylor, C. 1994, 'The politics of recognition', in Gutmann, A. (ed), Multiculturalism: Examining the politics of recognition, Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp. 25-73.

United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, 1969, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cerd.htm.

van Dijk, T. A. 1991, Racism and the press Routledge, London.

Vaughan, G. M. & Hogg, M. A. 2002, Introduction to Social Psychology, (3 ed.), Prentice Hall, Sydney.

Webb, E. & Sergison, M. 2003, 'Evaluation of cultural competence and antiracism training in child health services', Archives of Disease in Childhood, vol.88, pp. 291-294. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/adc.88.4.291

Weir, A. 2009, 'Who are we? Modern identities between Taylor and Foucault', Philosophy and Social Criticism, vol.35, no.5, pp. 533-553. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0191453709103426

Weerasinghe, S. & Williams, L.S. 2003, 'Health and the intersections of diversity: A challenge paper on selected program, policy and research issues', Intersections of Diversity Seminar, Niagara Falls, Canada.

Wellman, D. T. 1977, Portraits of White Racism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Wildman, S. 1996, Privilege Revealed: how invisible preference undermines America, New York University Press, New York.

Williams, O. R. 2005, 'Postcolonial melancholia': Book review. Black Issues, May-June, pp.63-64.

Yar, M. 2001, 'Beyond Nancy Fraser's 'perspectival dualism'', Economy and Society, vol.30, no.3, pp. 288-303. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03085140120071206


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/ccs.v2i1.1075

Share this article: