Racism

Racism is the belief that human beings can be divided into races and that members of some races are inferior to members of other races. People who believe in racism are called racists. They claim that members of their own race are mentally, physically, morally, or culturally superior to those of other races. Because of this, racists feel they deserve special rights and privileges. Racism in most countries has been directed mainly by the majority population group against ethnic minority groups. These minorities have faced discrimination in such areas as housing, education, and employment.

Although no scientific proof supports racist claims, racism is widespread and has caused major problems throughout the world. Racism is most often used to justify the creation of political or economic systems that encourage or maintain the domination of one racial group over another. Claims of racial superiority have supported discrimination, segregation, colonialism, slavery, and even mass murder.

Racism is a form of prejudice. Many people tend to consider their own appearance and behavior as normal and therefore desirable. They may distrust or fear people who look or act different. People often view other groups in terms of stereotypes. That is, they have oversimplified, preconceived, and generalized beliefs about the members of these groups.

Types of racism. Sociologists distinguish between individual and institutional racism. Individual racism refers chiefly to the prejudicial beliefs and discriminatory behavior of individuals in relation to other ethnic groups. It is based on racial assumptions of superiority and inferiority. Individual racism is often conscious and intentional. When a person is influenced by racist assumptions but is unaware of this influence, it is considered unconscious racism.

Institutional racism refers to the policies that restrict the opportunities of minorities in communities, schools, businesses, and other groups. Institutional racism may or may not be intentional, but it can produce harmful results. For example, a company may hire only college graduates for work that does not require a college degree. But if a smaller number of blacks than whites possess degrees, this company policy would limit the opportunities available to blacks.

Another example of institutional racism is the reported use of racial profiling in law enforcement. Racial profiling refers to the practice of using skin color as a basis for stopping citizens for police encounters, such as traffic checks. In the United States, several states have passed laws against the practice.

Environmental racism, also called environmental injustice, results when individual or institutional racism produces harmful environmental effects on a group. Environmental racism can occur, for example, when members of a minority group are forced to live near a toxic waste dump due to a lack of housing elsewhere.

History. Racism has existed since the beginning of history. More than 2,000 years ago, the ancient Greeks and Romans made slaves of people whom they considered inferior, many of them war captives. For hundreds of years, until about the early 1900's, the Chinese viewed most foreigners as barbarians.

From the 1700's to the early 1900's, Europeans gained control of large parts of Asia and Africa. These colonialists justified their domination on the grounds that the black-, brown-, and yellow-skinned people had to be “civilized” by the “superior” whites. By the mid-1900's, most colonialism had ended, but its effects on the world are still felt today. For details, see the articles on Africa (History) and Asia (Results of colonialism); Asia (The spread of Communism)

From the 1600's to the mid-1800's, many whites in the United States held blacks in slavery. The slaves were freed during the 1860's, but segregation and discrimination against blacks continued. In the 1960's, the U.S. government passed laws designed to give equal opportunities to blacks. Even so, racial problems—which began with slavery and were fostered by discrimination and segregation—continue to plague the United States.

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic mistreatment or extermination of an entire people. It is the most extreme result of racial hatred. Genocide was widely practiced by European settlers against the local peoples in Africa and the Americas. Adolf Hitler, the ruler of Nazi Germany, preached that Germans belonged to the “superior Aryan race,” and that Jews and other non-Aryans were inferior. Hitler's racist beliefs resulted in the murder of millions of Jews and others during the 1930's and 1940's.

In the late 1940's, the government of South Africa established a racial policy called apartheid, one of the world's most complete systems of racial separation. It called for separate institutions for whites and nonwhites and reserved about 85 percent of the nation's land for the white minority. In 1991, South Africa repealed the last of the laws that formed the basis of apartheid. Since then, racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa have been diminishing very slowly.

The science of race. Groups, as well as individuals, differ. But there is no scientific evidence to support claims of superiority or inferiority for these differences. Social scientists emphasize that no two groups have exactly the same environment. As a result, many group differences are largely the result of different environments.

Scientists have long debated the relative importance of heredity and environment in determining these differences. Most anthropologists today reject the idea that human beings can be divided into races based on biological differences alone. Instead, race is understood to be a complex concept that involves many other factors, such as environment and social behavior.

 

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--May we ALL Remember The Victims ALWAYS--

and

--May They All Rest In Peace, FOREVER-

 

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