Surviving the Survival Narrative Part 1: Internalised Racism and the Limits of Resistance

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Adam Z. Seet


The concept of internalised racism (IR) has been criticised for its potential utilisation to perpetuate ‘victim blaming’. In describing the racialised subject’s indoctrination to racist beliefs about themselves and/or their group, the concept of IR has been a point of difficulty for scholarship which sustains a hyper-focus on racialised resistance towards structural racism and its effects. Some scholars have highlighted that this hyper-focus on resistance is connected to a political stance which essentialises racialised subjects as always resisting. In this article, I further this argument by demonstrating the limitations within resistance strategies employed by some racialised subjects. I utilise participants’ narratives from a wider study to highlight three forms of limitations (conscious renouncing, inadvertent complicity, and non-resistance) in resisting racist ideology. I then draw on these examples to problematise scholarship that sustain a hyper-focus on resistance, one that may inadvertently foreclose the deeper impact of racism upon the racialised.

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