Martha Barry, racial justice programmer at the YWCA of Greater Milwaukee, defines racism as "prejudice plus privilege plus power to oppress." The mission of the YMCA of GM is to "eliminate racism and empower women."
Let's take a look at that definition of racism. Prejudice plus privilege plus power. Prejudice alone does not make one a racist according to Barry's definition. One must also have privilege and power.
So what is privilege? Can a black person have privilege? Can a woman? Do all white people have privilege? Where does it come from? Can it be transferred to someone else? Can it be eliminated? Who should eliminate it? Can privilege be eliminated without the use of power? Since power is a component of racism, and racism is bad and should be eliminated, should we elimate power? Given the association of power to racism, why would the YWCA want to empower women?
As for me, I will stick with Webster's definition of racism which is "the assumption that the characteristics and abilities of an individual are detirmined by race and that one race is biologically superior to another."
By redefining racism, Barry by definition lets members of certain races off the hook for being racists. The goal of the YWCA seemingly is to shift power from one race to another. If successful, would this end racism? Aren't we just changing who the racists are? Or are we to assume that a newly empowered and privileged race, lets say black people, would be less likely to be racist than whites?
Perhaps newly empowered blacks and women wouldn't be as racist as white people. But if we assume that upfront, aren't we believing that blacks and women are morally superior to whites and men, since they will be able to resist the temptations of power while white people, or empowered and privileged people, continue to oppress?
Is the YWCA meeting the Webster's definition of racism?