Georgia NeSmith
2 min readApr 29, 2022


You're missing the point.

Racism LIVES in experience with racism.

It does NOT live outside those experiences.

Because white people do not have experience with racism, they do not have the knowledge required to "objectively" define it.

An abstract definition of something that lives in the experiences of people who are targeted by it is pointless, and serves no real purpose other than to give white people the position of superiority to define it, and thereby have their racism live inside the definition they create.

Experience matters.

Racism is a phenomenological experience, just as misogyny is.


If you don't have direct experience with racism, you have no real insight into what it is.

You don't have the right to say that xyx and b as experienced by black people and people of color are NOT racism.

If you've not experienced it, you DO NOT KNOW WHAT RACISM IS.

Racism exists in the EXPERIENCE of it.

This is why white people's definitions of racism that justify claiming that they are not racist are in and of themselves racist.

See, the #1 active element of racism is the act of DENYING black people the right to define what they experience as racism.

The act of assuming a white person has the right to tell a black person or person of color that what the experiences they describe as racism are not, in fact racism, IS RACIST.

Do you not see the inherent contradiction of arriving at an "objective" definition of the experience of racism? If you cannot experience racism, what authority do you have to say that something experienced by a black person or person of color is not racist?

Just as men cannot define what the experience of childbirth is. You can define it abstractly what giving birth is, but that doesn't really tell you WHAT MATTERS to the people who experience it.

White people insisting on defining racism necessarily ENACT racist denial of black authority by that very fact.

That is THE MAJOR TENET invol,ved in undersanding racism. To undrestand it, you cannot impose an "objective, white created definition" upon people's experiences of it.

It has to be experiential and, because of that, phenomenological.

Bottom line, white people need to listen to the experiences of black people and people color in order to fully understand what the word MEANS when it is applied to experience.

White people can arrive at a degree of understanding only through trying to feel the pain of the targets of racism.

Therefore, they cannot define it. At least, not in any meaningful way that helps enable real change.



Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.