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What is meant by the word ‘Racism’?

Racism is discrimination based purely on the colour of a person’s skin. Racism is the belief that race accounts for difference in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. Prejudice means prejudgment and is when someone judges another person before getting to know them. Discrimination is when the opportunities of certain individuals are limited due to their colour, race or religion etc. 

People can be racist verbally as well as physically. Some examples of racism are obvious, such as graffiti, intimidation or physical violence. Racial and ethnic slurs and “jokes” are other examples. Unfortunately, they are often ignored because people do not know how to deal with them1.There are three main types of racism; they are Individual racism, Cultural racism and institutional or systemic racism.

Individual racism is when one person is racist towards another individual; those who are racist may only be racist towards one particular culture or race. Cultural racism is when a person or a group of people are racist towards others because of their culture, race or ethnicity. Institutional or systemic racism is racism that takes place in workplaces and some institutions. This kind of racism comes into practise in employment selection and recruitment, promotions, status and salary scales. In such occasions equal opportunities will be denied. In the UK, the governments ‘Equal Opportunities’ policy2 address the issue of racism and tries to eliminate such attitudes in employment sectors.

Racism has been going on for over 200 years and is still a ruling force in the world. Racism began in Britain in the eighteenth century as it was useful to the economy3. Every year in Britain there are more then 140,000 racial attacks. Beatings, murders, fire bombs and excrement are some of the realities black people in Britain face today. Black people are three times more likely to become homeless then white people. Black people mainly live in the most run-down and deprived areas of the inner cities.

In my opinion, people are not born racist. The environment in which a person grows up in can effect whether a person becomes racist or not. You can also be pushed into becoming racist. The media are also partly responsible for spreading racism, by giving stereotypical views to the public about immigration, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and issues about ethnic minority groups. Stereotyping refers to forming an instant or fixed picture of a group of people, usually based on false or incomplete information. These stereotypical views cause prejudice and discrimination to form. An example of racism is World War ll. Thousands of Jews were brutally killed or forced to go into hiding all because they were born Jewish. Jews were thought unclean and impure and Jews were not allowed certain privileges, such as going to the swimming pool or the cinema or riding on a bus. Another example of racism is the Apartheid System. This happened in South Africa and lasted over a century. The British went to South Africa and ruled over the people living there. South Africans were denied the right to vote; they were not allowed to travel first class and were denied many privileges in their own country. Nelson Mandela was put in jail for 27 years for protesting against the British and it was only when he was elected Prime Minister that South Africans got their freedom again. This type of white dominance also took place in India and Zimbabwe.

There are many racist groups around the world; an example of this is the Ku Klux Klan. The KK believes in a white Christian civilization and is against mixing races. There have been many cases of the KK abusing and killing non-whites. This many takes place mainly in segregated areas of America. Another racist group is the Aryan Brotherhood. This racist group forms in prisons and turns criminals racist. Their rule is that to join you must commit murder and membership is for life, trying to leave the brotherhood means you forfeit your own life. Many racist groups are considered ‘Aryan’. ‘Aryan’ means pure and Aryans believe in a pure and clean civilization. Adolf Hitler was Aryan and believed that those with blond hair and blue eyes were pure and clean. This belief turns out to be quite silly as Hitler himself was a brunette with brown eyes. However in Germany there are people who still agree with the Nazis’ and their way of thinking, to have a pure Germany society. The British National Party (BNP) the BNP denies that it is racist, however, stating that it is merely standing up for the white British working-class. The party believes that racism is a part of human nature and describes its supporters as “realists”

As well as there being many racist groups there are many anti-racist groups such as the ARA (Anti Racist Action) and Amnesty International along with other human rights groups was well as some Christian organizations and churches. Anti-Racist Action (ARA) is a network of youth based anti-racist groups across North America dedicated to fighting all forms of racism. They oppose and fight things like the racist institution of the police as well as organized racist groups like the Klu Klux Klan and Nazi skinheads. They believe the only way racism is going to stop is by doing it themselves4. Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights5. Another anti racist group is the Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ). CARJ is a charitable organization that works with Black and minority ethnic Catholics, also in Catholic Dioceses and Parishes. CARJ facilitates, encourages and empowers others to be involved and included and also to change the culture within the Church. Also the Commission for Racial Equality work for a just and integrated society, where diversity is valued. They use persuasion and our powers under the law to give everyone an equal chance to live free from fear of discrimination, prejudice and racism.