Encyclopedia > Racism

  Article Content


Racism or racialism is a form of discrimination based on race, especially the belief that one race is superior to another. Racism may be expressed individually and consciously, through explicit thoughts, feelings, or acts, or socially and unconsciously, through institutions that promote inequality between races.

In the 19th century many legitimized racist beliefs and practices through scientific theories about biological differences among races. Today, most scientists have rejected the biological basis of race or the validity of "race" as a scientific concept. Racism, then, becomes discrimination based on alleged race. Racists themselves usually do believe that humans are divided into different races.

There are two main definitions of racism today. One of them states that racism is dicrimination based on alleged race, the other - newer - one states that racism has started to include also discrimination based on religion or culture.

Table of contents

History of modern racism

United States

In colonial America, what few African slaves there were served alongside poor whites in indentured servitude; a term of service meant freedom and a land grant afterward. A number of Africans became landowners this way, before colonial slavery became based on racial lines. In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon led a revolt against the Governor and the system of exploitation he represented; exploitation of poorer colonists, by the increasingly wealthy landowners. However, Bacon died, probably of dysentery, and the revolt lost steam.

The central issue to landowners was the unity of Bacon's populist movement and how might they divide the population politically in ways that would keep them divided enough to rule. The particular unexpected aspect of Bacon's rebellion, to the Governor was its multi-racial aspect. From then on, it was determined that Africans only would be used as "slaves" - and promised white colonists whatever benefits that would have gone toward African slaves. This began the infamously long period of the American slave society; all for the purpose of aquiring labor for harvesting tobacco in ever-increasing amounts. The social rift, along color lines soon enough was engrained in every aspect of colonial American culture.

South Africa


United Kingdom

There were race riots across the United Kingdom in 1919: South Shields[?], Glasgow, London's East End[?], Liverpool, Cardiff, Barry[?], Newport


Anti-Semitism, apartheid, Islamophobia.

Types of racism There are many forms of racism; two infamous historic examples are South-African apartheid and the Anti-Semitism of Hitler's Germany. Racism could be divided in three major subcategories: individual racism, structural racism and ideological racism.

A loose list of categories of racism:

  • Racial prejudice[?] is pre-formed personal opinions about individuals on the basis of their race. (e.g. John thinks that Mary will have bad attribute X solely because Mary is a member of race Y)
  • Racial discrimination is differences in treatment of people on the basis of n characteristics which may be classified as racial, including skin color, cultural heritage, and religion. (e.g. John refuses to hire Mary because she is of race Y)
  • Institutional or structural racial discrimination -- racial discrimination by governments, corporations, or other large organizations. (e.g. Mary cannot get a job, despite her qualifications, because she is of race Y.)
  • Cultural racial prejudices or discrimination refers to a state of affairs when the de facto inferiority of a race is considered normal by another race. (e.g. People expect Mary to work a poorly paying job because she is of race Y, or accept this state of affairs without objection)
  • Historical economic or social disparity is a form of discrimination which is caused by past racism, affecting the present through primarily unconscious racist attitudes and actions. (e.g. A member of Race Y, Mary, has her opportunities adversely affected (directly and/or indirectly) by the mistreatment of her ancestors of race Y)
  • Racialism is scientific or pseudo-scientific claims about differences in ability among races. (e.g. Dr. Smith writes a book claiming that members of race Y are, on average, less intelligent than members of race Z)

In addition to the basic types of discrimination above, racism can also be divided into two broader categories: racism against a minority (of a certain population) versus racism against a majority (of a certain population). Examples of the former include the enslavement of Africans and continued repression of their descendants in the United States. The existence of the latter is often controversial, but agreed upon examples include racial apartheid in South Africa, wherein whites (a minority) discriminated against blacks (a majority); this form of racism also occurred during the former colonial rule of such countries as Vietnam and India by France and the United Kingdom.

Reverse racism is a highly controversial form of racism against a majority that refers to several ideas. The current occurrence of reverse racism in the United States (where the term originated and is primarily used) is highly disputed.

In the United States, many people, largely conservative, criticize policies such as affirmative action as an example of reverse racism, and claim that it is systemic racially-based discrimination. Supporters argue that affirmative action policies counteract the systemic and cultural racism against minorities by providing a balancing force, and that affirmative action does not qualify as racist because the policies are enacted by politicians (who are mostly part of the white majority in the United States) and directed towards their own race.

Some Americans believe that reverse racism exists in the United States, but that it is cultural racism, and not primarily systemic. For example, some African-Americans discriminate against white people--this can be called reverse racism.

In addition, some white people believe that political correctness has led to a denigration of the white race, through percieved special attention paid towards minority races. For example, they consider the existence of Black History Month (February) but not a White History Month, Hispanic History Month or Asian History Month to be de facto racism directed at the majority and non-black minorities.

Racism is and has been official policy in many countries. In the 1970s, Uganda expelled tens of thousands of ethnic Indians. Malaysia currently enforces discriminatory laws limiting access to university education for Chinese students. Russia launched anti-Semitic pogroms against Jews in 1905 and after.

Racial profiling, or prejudicial treatment of minorities by law enforcement officials, in the United States is another highly controversial example of racism. Arguments on the subject tend to focus on whether it is cultural discrimination on the part of law enforcement officers, or an official policy of discrimination among law enforcement agencies. Supporters of racial profiling also believe it is a necessary tool for law enforcement, because, they claim, members of certain minorities are more likely to commit crimes. For example, most terrorists have been young Arab males, they claim, and so it is both logical and useful to have security officers at airports take special note of young Arab male fliers. Critics dispute the numbers of criminals of various races (such as the existence of Christian, Hindi, Israeli and Latino terrorists; see racial profiling for more information on this aspect of the dispute) as well as the usefulness of racial profiling. They claim, for example, that racially profiling young Arab male fliers at airports will only lead to increased recruitment of older, non-Arab and female terrorists. In addition, many critics of racial profiling claim that it is an unconstitutional practice because it amounts to detaining individuals on the basis of what crimes they might commit or could possibly commit, instead of what crimes they have actually committed.

Some examples of specific types of alleged racism

  • Afrocentrism - (not always considered racist); the belief that black African cultures were historically more powerful and influential than is widely believed
  • Anti-Semitism - usually, racism directed towards Jews, though Arabs are sometimes included as well
  • Apartheid - a system of racism, now abolished, that once existed in South Africa; some refer to current Israeli policies towards Palestinians as apartheid as well
  • Black supremacy - the belief that those of African descent are the superior race
  • Eurocentrism - the sometimes unconscious practice of historically and culturally focusing on white Europeans, to the exclusion of significant achievements of other cultures
  • Islamophobia - a form of racism and describes the manifestations of hatred and hostility towards Muslims and Arab people in general
  • Manifest Destiny - a historical form of racist belief, that white Americans have the right and duty to colonize the west and "civilize" the Native American inhabitants
  • Naziism - a historical form of national socialism, coupled with extreme racism, directed towards Gypsies, Jews, Poles, Russians and Slavs, among other groups; some adherents continue to exist
  • Racial segregation - (not always considered necessarily racist) the belief that the races should be kept separate, either geographically or culturally
  • White supremacy - the belief that those of European (or only northern/western European, and sometimes excluding Ireland) descent are the superior race, or 'master race'.
  • suburb and gated community[?] developers, which are often described as pandering to racist views by emphasizing "crime risk" in more racially diverse downtowns, especially in North America.

Some examples of alleged racist organisations

See also: affirmative action, Afrocentrism, anti-Semitism, apartheid, ascribed characteristics, The Bell Curve, Black Panthers, black supremacy, chauvinism, Civil rights movement, collectivism, Criminal Blackman Myth, discrimination, essentialism, ethnic stereotype, ethnocentrism, Eurocentrism, genocide, hate crime, homophobia, Islamophobia, Jim Crow laws, Ku Klux Klan, master race, Miscegenation, Naziism, New World Negationism nigger, race, race riot, racial segregation, racialism, Racism/racial and ethnic slurs, sexism, skinhead, social stereotype, White Australia policy, white supremacy, white trash, wog

List of ethnic slurs

External link

  • What is Race? (http://academic.udayton.edu/race/01race/race.htm)

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article

...     Contents TyrantRedirected from Bullying Tyrant is a term for someone with absolute governmental power, from the Greek language turannos. In ...

This page was created in 40.8 ms