Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The policy of making only a perfunctory effort or symbolic gesture toward the accomplishment of a goal, such as racial integration.
  • n. The practice of hiring or appointing a token number of people from underrepresented groups in order to deflect criticism or comply with affirmative action rules: "Tokenism does not change stereotypes of social systems but works to preserve them, since it dulls the revolutionary impulse” ( Mary Daly).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A policy of formally complying with efforts to achieve a goal by making small, token gestures; especially to hire a minimal number of ethnically diverse or disadvantaged people

Etymologies

From token +‎ -ism. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Among other things, it limits (obviously) SNL's ability to successfully represent public figures, and this tokenism is a perennial problem at SNL, which has six different faces to match to white male public figures, but must force black characters into the oeuvre of a single actor.

    SNL's Fauxbama Blackface Thing

  • "I don't think you have to shy away from the idea of tokenism," she told the Washington Post in 1977, soon after being confirmed by the Senate as commerce secretary.

    First Female Commerce Secretary Was Bureaucratic Infighter

  • However, it is a societal problem and will need bottom-top solutions rather than tokenism, which is the case right now.

    A Who's Who of Indian sleaze | Praful Bidwai

  • Though I hate the idea of tokenism it does come to that at times.

    Science, Education & Society: Are you being included in the scientific audience?

  • I felt very off my game as the workshop usually starts with us spending a bunch of time defining terms like "tokenism" and "appropriation" and having already started late and it being Wiscon I felt that wasn't necessary at all.

    Where I Been, Doing Stuff.

  • At first blush the selection of West to keynote the conference smacked of the kind of tokenism that some thought was in play when the GOP selected Michael Steele to chair the party.

    Mark Joseph: Conservative Confab Produces An Unlikely Contender

  • The kind of tokenism you lament in #2 was rampant in my experience, as new music organizations scrambled to get women and people of color on grant panels, boards, focus groups, etc. to “represent” their imagined constituencies even though the people inviting them were really not looking for anything in the music itself that was gendered or racially tinged in any way.

    The Embedded and The Revealed

  • Fact is, Bush's statement - while carefully scripted - shows not only his absolute racism, but also the degree of "tokenism" Rice and Powell accepted with their appointments.

    The Shoe Lady Speaks...

  • This person's take on "tokenism" is almost impossible to follow.

    Catching up...

  • This kind of tokenism ultimately seems a step backwards to me.

    Black is the Old ... Invisible?

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