Updated November 12, 2020

Rethinking Racism: Subtle, but Still Existing

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Rethinking Racism: Subtle, but Still Existing essay
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The collated web resources and peer-reviewed articles, in the following link; click here contain relevant literature and information that formed the basis of this paper. The information curated under the above-mentioned link explores three critical areas; section 1, covert racism a form of racism experienced in my learning ecosystem in Namibia, Swakopmund. Section 2 & 3 explores cyber racism and suggest strategies that can be used to dismantle online racism.

This content identified accurately defines covert racism as opposed to overt racism, and provides more insight of what racism is and the different forms it portrays in society, taking into consideration the emerging role social media plays in hosting racists comments and advocacy. However, for the purpose of this paper section 1, as experienced in my learning ecosystem will form the primary basis of this advocacy paper.

Executive summary

This paper acknowledges that racism although subtle still perpetuates in society. This subtle form of racism commonly known as ‘covert racism’ is explored in the context of a school community, in which it presents empirical evidence of hidden forms of racism and the consequences, therefore. As result, this paper identifies best practice strategies for combating disguised racism in a school community and further persuades the leadership structure of the identified school community to adopt these strategies to fight against racism and reshape the organisation towards a racism free-community.


What is racism? this question is particularly difficult to explain and define, thus definitions of racism may vary depending on the context in which it manifests itself. However, for the purposes of this paper, Chavan (2018), defines racism a belief that some race is inherently greater and better than others. This belief is couched in an ideology of historical power relations in which skin colour was racialised, which today divided humans into different races.

In the past racism was often overt, in which discrimination was aimed at giving unequal treatment to an individual or group based on their age, gender, ethnicity and nationality, (Chavan, 2018). This form of racism known as overt discrimination is often intentional with the perpetrator having full awareness of his/her actions. Reality is often obscured, and that what we recognise as true is not always true. According to Coates, (2011), racism has transformed into a newer form, from overt to covert racism, which he describes as a hidden; secret; disguised and private form of racism that obscures reality. This paper uncovers that reality and aims to transform the views of school leaders to rethink racism.


Racism today still perpetuates, however by no means is racism overt as in the past anymore. Today racism is covert and often subtle, hidden behind closed doors and unnoticed, and only strikes expectedly. While some may argue that “racism is a thing of the past, and that it is neutral”, well think again as racism has now taken up a newer form in which racial discrimination is often disguised, subtle and private. This is even evident in a school community of professional teachers and school management. My learning ecosystem is a victim of such microaggressions that often seem subtle yet prevalent in modern societies.

Evidence of Hidden Forms of Racism in Teacher Education

According to Brown, (2014), international literature demonstrates that racialised professional teachers when measured against their white counterparts, are considered as deficient in the western world. Similarly, this is no different in a third world country like Namibia, this paper draws on the theoretical framings of the Critical Race Theory (CRT) in order to expose and unpack hidden forms of racism that are still prevalent in a workplace, and as well as in a school community of professional teachers. The Critical Race Theory delivers a fertile ground to unpack and dismantle these hidden forms of racism and oppose the notion of racism neutrality and colour-blindness. The Critical Race theory is social theory aimed to critique and to change society towards a better reality for all, (Curry, n.d.). In public school’s teachers are often subjected to professional standards of class management, assessment, dressing code and teachers code of conduct, this standardisation tends to favour white teachers more than teachers of colour. Although professionalism is not the focus, it can easily embody hidden forms of racism that tend to degrade teachers of colour and devalue their level of professionalism when compared to the normativity of white teachers, (Brown, 2014).

Although, these forms of racism still prevail others may suggest that there is racial neutrality in school system regardless of cultural diversities. Kohli, Pizarro, & Nevárez, .(2017), suggests that racism can be neutral, and the researches further state that racial neutrality is achieved when no special treatment is given to a particular race, this phenomenon is biased is it only favours the opinions of the researchers based on K-12 students. Thus, it is of prime importance that we analyse hidden forms of racism even though it may seem neutral at times, and further dismantle the notion of colour blindness.

Strategies for combating hidden forms of racism

The following strategies are borrowed and revised from an Australian anti-racism FECCA Position Paper titled; Best Practice for Countering Racism in Australia, the ideas shared in this paper are applicable for school leaders in my learning ecosystem.

Anti-racism strategies:

  • Educate the staff on covert racism; ensure inclusivity when educating teachers on racial issues: this can be attained through Continuous Professional Development (CPD), designing programmes that will seek to identify hidden forms of racism and embrace cultural diversity
  • Ensure that the teaching staff is given the necessary tools; when teachers are witness to racism there should necessary tools to keep a record of incidents of racial discrimination, such as complaints forms, record keeping journal and recordings.
  • Develop a zero-tolerance policy; this can be enshrined in the school’s code of conduct, whereby racial discrimination can be rated as an offence to fellow employees. Thus no racists acts will be condoned.


School leaders should take up the arm of rational decision making, and encourage dialogue among staff members to recognise racial acts and further explore effective strategies (here) to combat racism. Hidden forms of racism do not mean that racism is non-exist, but rather it simply means that it is subtle, rationalised for society to accept without question. Thus it is imperative, that school leaders continue to raise the issues and promote dialogue so as to identify effective methods for combating racism. This can be done by framing the discussion in the Critical Race Theory (CRT).


  1. Brown, D. (2014). “Teaching in Color: A Critical Race Theory in Education Analysis of the Literature on Preservice Teachers of Color and Teacher Education in the US.” Race Ethnicity and Education 17 (3): 326–345.
  2. Chavan, A. (2018). understanding covert and overt discrimination with proper examples. Retrieved from https://opinionfront.com/covert-overt-discriminationCoates, R. D. (2011). Covert racism: Theories, institutions, and experiences. Brill.
  3. Curry, T. (n.d.). Critical race theory. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/critical-race-theory
  4. Kohli, R., Pizarro, M., & Nevárez, A. (2017). The “New racism” of K–12 schools: Centering critical research on racism. Review of Research in Education, 41(1), 182-202.
  5. Marom, L. (2019). Under the cloak of professionalism: covert racism in teacher education, Race Ethnicity and Education, 22:3, 319-337, DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2018.1468748

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