Information that is deliberately false or misleading, intended specifically to exploit wedge issues related to race, racial justice, or communities of color.
Formalized by sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant in 1986, “racialization” is understood as “the sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed.”1 As a tool of disinformation, “racialization” typically refers to the assignment of an issue, narrative, movement, or belief to a specific racial or ethnic group, by operators who do not identify with that group.
Immigrant rights lawyer Kimberly Grambo describes this process as a kind of “group defamation,” noting that it often “inflict[s] dignitary harm on individual members of minority groups” or “even dehumanizes individual members of those groups.”2
Much like disinformation more generally, racialized disinformation is often employed in the pursuit of political gain or profit, or to discredit a target individual, group, movement, or political party.
An example of a racialized disinformation campaign from the Casebook is the coopting of #Blaxit, an organic Black Twitter hashtag, by 4chan users attempting to sow anti-Black sentiment and suppress voter turnout for the Democratic Party.
- 1. Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1980s (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986), https://books.google.com/books/about/Racial_Formation_in_the_United_States.html?id=fylRAQAAIAAJ.
- 2. Kimberly Grambo, “Fake News and Racial, Ethnic, and Religious Minorities: A Precarious Quest for Truth,” University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 21, no. 5 (January 1, 2019): 1299, https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1700&context=jcl.