Racism: Definition and Meaning

As a result of presumptive shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities, different races may be ranked as innately superior or inferior to one another in social actions, practices, beliefs, or political systems. There have been efforts to use scientific methods, such as scientific racism, to validate racist beliefs. These attempts have been repeatedly shown to be unfounded.

Meaning of Racism

Racism is the idea that certain human populations have distinct behavioral patterns related to inherited characteristics and can be classified according to the superiority of one race over another. It may also refer to hostility, prejudice, or discrimination against others who are of a distinct race or ethnicity. Racism today frequently has its roots in societal perceptions of biological variances among populations.

Racist ideologies may have accompanying social components such as nativism, xenophobia, otherness, segregation, hierarchical ranking, and supremacism. These social components are supported by government systems that support the expression of prejudice or aversion in discriminatory practices or legislation.

Why is Racism Prohibited

Being prejudiced toward someone in the UK is illegal. In accordance with UK legislation, if someone acts hostilely toward another person because of that person's race, they are committing a "hate crime" and may be prosecuted. In the UK in 2019, there were almost 80,000 hate offenses. This is 10% more than the previous year. Show Racism the Red Card is one of the largest anti-racism organizations in the United Kingdom. According to the article, "for the person experiencing racism, it can be really damaging to their wellbeing," which is why racism is unethical as well as illegal. Anger, sadness, and despair have all been linked to racism.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United Nations (UN) created and which was ratified by the UN General Assembly in 1948, was the first important international human rights document. Despite the fact that many nations around the world have enacted laws prohibiting racism and discrimination, according to the UDHR, in order to be treated with dignity, a person must have access to economic opportunities, social rights, including the right to an education, as well as civil liberties and the right to take part in political and artistic life.

Everyone has the right to these freedoms "without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status," the constitution adds. The difference between discrimination based on race and ethnicity has been a topic of discussion among academics, including anthropologists, so the UN definition of racial discrimination does not make this distinction. Similar to the United States, British law defines a racial group as "any group of persons who are defined by reference to their race, color, nationality, or ethnic or national origin."


Along with writing and the arts, the humanities actively pursue the study of language, linguistics, and discourse. By carefully examining the ways in which these aspects of human society are described and debated in a variety of written and oral works, discourse analysis aims to shed light on what race means and the behavior of racists. Such works' descriptions of African Americans and their experiences in US society, as revealed by textual analysis, can be starkly contrasted with those of black writers.

When African-American authors write about "whiteness," they are sometimes portrayed in African-American studies as retreating from racial issues. However, other scholars identify this as a literary tradition known as "the literature of white estrangement," which is an African-American literary tradition that is a part of a multifaceted effort to challenge and demolish white supremacy in the US.

Aversive Racism

In a type of implicit racism known as aversive racism, a person's unconscious negative opinions of racial or ethnic minorities are manifested through a persistent avoidance of interaction with other racial and ethnic groups. Aversive racism differs from traditional, overt racism in that it is defined by more nuanced, conflicted expressions and attitudes toward racial and ethnic minorities as opposed to overt hatred and discrimination against them. Aversive racism shares similarities with the idea of symbolic or modern racism, which is also a type of implicit, unconscious, or covert attitude that leads to unconscious forms of discrimination, in terms of its consequences.


Cultural racism takes the form of social norms and assumptions that support the notion that a particular culture's contributions, such as its traditions and language, are better than those of other cultures. It has many similarities to xenophobia, which is frequently defined by members of the ingroup exhibiting fear or hostility toward members of the outgroup. In that regard, it is comparable to South Asian communalism.

Color Blindness

When it comes to racism, color blindness is the disregard for racial traits in social interactions, such as the denial of affirmative action as a solution to the effects of prior discriminatory patterns. Racial color blindness is criticized for unintentionally perpetuating the patterns that lead to racial inequality by declining to address racial disparities.


Institutional racism, also known as structural racism, state racism, or systematic racism, is the practice of racial discrimination by governments, businesses, faiths, educational institutions, or other powerful institutions with the ability to have a significant impact on the lives of many people.

In the late 1960s, Stokely Carmichael is credited with coining the term "institutional racism." "The collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their color, culture, or ethnic origin," is how he defined the word.

Racism as a Modern Phenomenon

It's common to hear people refer to racism as a modern occurrence. According to French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault, the first description of racism appeared in the early modern era as the "discourse of race struggle," a historical and political discourse that Foucault opposed to the philosophical and legal discourse of sovereignty.


Racism is something when someone acts differently toward another individual because of their race or culture. Some individuals experience bullying because of their differences in appearance or language. Some people may experience bullying because of the clothing they choose to wear because of their faith. Racism also involves making fun of people who are from other countries.

Despite, the development of various levels of intellects integrated with technology, racism still persists and almost every in every region of this world. This is different aspect that in different geographic region the methods of racism are different.

Frequently Asked Question

Q1. What is Racialization?

Ans. Racialization, also known as ethnicization, is the political process of assigning ethnic or racial identities to a relationship, social practice, or group that did not define itself as such in order to exert dominance and social exclusion. Racialization or ethnicization frequently results from interactions between groups that are dominant or that want to be dominant, and the group that wants to dominate assigns a racial identity to the other group in order to reproduce or maintain its dominant ways and to reinforce its social exclusion practices.

Q2. What do you mean by Postcolonialism?

Ans. The critical academic study of postcolonialism focuses on the effects of human control and exploitation of colonized people and their territories, and it examines the cultural, political, and economic legacies of colonialism and imperialism.

Q3. Define the term Decolonization?

Ans. The process by which imperial countries establish and rule over foreign territories, frequently overseas, is known as colonialism, which is being undone through the process of "decolonization" or "decolonization." Some decolonization scholars place a particular emphasis on colonial independence movements and the dissolution of global colonial empires. Other academics broaden the meaning to incorporate the colonial experience's economic, cultural, and psychic facets.

Updated on: 10-May-2023


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