Adding insult to injury: How focus on intent diverts attention from racism and discrimination

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What role does intent play in racism and discrimination and what does it matter? In this article, I discuss some understandings of racism (structural, individual, ideological), and explore how these may influence identification and validation of discrimination. In particular, I look at how the notion of intent in this regard functions to muddy identification and contestation of racism, and support powerlessness for targets of (unintended) racism and discrimination exchanges.
I argue that emphasis on intent, in combination with other factors such as the inequality and power asymmetry inherent to racism and racial discrimination, limits and problematize how racism and discrimination are addressed and contested, contributse to decentering the target’s experience of racism and racial discrimination, and functions to reaffirm majority power, thereby sustaining and perpetuating discriminatory and racist structures.

Discrimination, Racism, Intent, Individual- and Structural Discrimination
TidsskriftSocial Identities
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2022


  • Intention
  • Structural discrimination
  • individualized discrimination
  • racism


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