“Racism is one of the most important problems suffered by the whole world. It is based on a theory of superiority of one group over another, belonging to different ethnic groups.”
“It is basically an attack on human rights and justice and dignity.”
“For me the word racism does not exist, because each person gives a different meaning/definition to it, although is a word most people talk about.”
“For me, racism is for example when we are sitting in a bar, the bartender comes and speaks nasty to us. We think that being Moroccan does not justify this treatment to us. We have to stop this.”
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Racism is “a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”, which can derivate in “the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another”. The word racism seems to have recent origin; in fact, there are no citations known prior to 1902. This does not mean that the concept did not exist in the past, as things might exist for a long time before they are given a name.
The word racism comes from race, which refers to the categories in which society places individuals on the basis of their physical characteristics (skin colour, hair type, facial traits). Although many believe that race is determined by biology, nowadays it is widely accepted that instead it consists in a classification due to social and political reasons (ADL, 2020).
Racism is also a form of intergroup reaction (which includes thoughts, feelings, and behaviours) that generate systematic benefits to the own group and / or generate a disadvantage towards another group based on racial-type perceptions (Dovidio et al, 2013). The underlying ideology in racist practices often includes the idea that humans can be subdivided into different groups that are different in terms of their behaviours, social skills and / or abilities, and that these differences are found in genetics and / or as inherited characteristics.
The flagrant manifestations of racism and xenophobia are easy to sift through and most people have learned to censor them, but they have resulted in a large battery of grey comments such as “black people are very good at sports”. In these cases, a person can be more hesitant about whether these comments are or are not acceptable. In fact, a generalization comment does not become less generalizing — or even less racist simply because it is positive.
ADL Fighting Hate for Good. (2020, July). Retrieved from https://www.adl.org/racism
Dovidio, J.F., Gaertner, S. L.,Kawakami, K. (2013). Racism In: Dovidio et al Eds. The Sage Handbook of Prejudice, Stereotyping and Discrimination. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
For further reading about racism:
D’Souza, D. (1995). The end of racism: Principles for a Multiracial Society. New York: Free Press
Fredrickson, G.M. (2002). Racism: A short history. Princeton: Princeton University Press
Rattansi, A. (2007). Racism: A very short introduction. Oxford: oxford University Press