Working With Internalized Racism


Working With Internalized Racism

From Shame to Unburdening with IFS

By Richard Schwartz

September/October 2020


As a white man, I can’t fully appreciate or speak to what it’s like to be Black in this country, although I’m trying to learn. But as the developer of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model, I can offer some thoughts about helping people navigate their inner worlds to release the extreme beliefs and emotions they absorbed from our culture, including internalized racism.

Over the past several years, our country seems to have been reaching a critical point of reckoning with its legacy of racism. After seeing how the Trump regime has worked to legitimize white supremacy, after witnessing the way the pandemic has highlighted racial disparities in public health, after repeatedly seeing videos of the brutal spectacle of unarmed Black people being murdered by police, many white people have finally arrived at a tipping point in facing how deeply racism is woven into the fabric of our society and of ourselves.

So what are we to do with that awareness? While the Black Lives Matter movement has increased the country’s understanding of the pernicious impact of racism in all aspects of our national life, how do we do the internal work of recognizing and grappling with racist thoughts? Some recommend that, after becoming aware of them, we should confront, challenge, and expel them. But this head-on approach can have the…

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2 Comments

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 1:21:25 PM | posted by Lorraine
Ever since the murder of George Floyd, I’ve sensed a “protector” within who was also oppressing my exile with her supremacy. Yet I needed her confidence and courage to overcome some history of male domination. She did her job when I needed her yet now I need her courage to build connection and compassion. This article also helped me see a few other hidden aspects of self I didn’t realize were there. Thank you for revealing your hidden parts to us!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 10:40:39 AM | posted by Rebecca Kaiser
The “two movies on the same screen” phenomenon happens when a couple of friends go to the same theater, buy tickets to the same movie, sit next to each other looking at the same screen and then report having viewed completely different full-length features. Cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias determine what movie each person sees. Cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias do not exist outside the Internal Family System. They are experienced by parts. Trump Is Racist. Trump Is Equitable. I want to get to know these parts. The ones who seem to be so easily influenced. Maybe they’d like to be released from their mental prisons. If you are curious, as I am, contact me through Messenger.