What is Racism?
Racism can be defined as prejudice, discrimination or hostility. In other words, having a great hate or dislike directed towards a person, or group of people because of race, ethnicity or religion. This is based on the belief that the perpetrator’s race/ beliefs are more superior that the race/beliefs of the recipient.
Is stereotyping a form of racism?
Stereotyping is often based on assumptions. Making “stab in the dark” guesses about what an individual may be like has very little evidence or proof about a certain group that an individual may belong to. In today’s society it can be difficult not to stereotype. The brain works in a way where we are automatically ‘trained’ to associate an idea of someone with a perception we have stored in our mind from the past, or from images that we are exposed to in the media.
In most cases, racist comments stem from negative stereotypes.
A bearded guy is wearing a black trench jacket, huckleberry hat and skinny jeans. Some people may automatically assume he is Jewish; however, he could just as easily be a Christian who grew a beard because his partner found it attractive and he’s following the latest style trends from Men’s GQ.
Why are people racist?
We can’t define the exact reason why somebody decides to act in a racist manner. Racism like a lot of other prejudice-based hate is normally a learnt behaviour. None of us are born with the ability to read an email or sing a song, nor are we born with the ability to discriminate against someone because of where they were born or the colour of their skin. No one is inherently racist.
Racist people normally feel threatened or intimidated by a culture or race that is not familiar to them or they have limited understanding of. Unfortunately in society today, people tend to act negatively towards the unknown rather than taking the time to understand or embrace that difference.
What is racial discrimination?
Racial discrimination can be defined as two different categories: Direct and Indirect.
Indirect racial discrimination takes place when a person or organisation introduces a rule that discriminates against people from a certain racial minority. Normally the factors of this idea/rule are unclear and not justifiable.
A Hair Salon states in a job ad that they’re unable to employ people who wear religious head attire because they want their customers to be able to see their stylist’s hair. This is in-direct discrimination; this rule has no bearing on the capability of the candidate’s ability to style hair properly.
Direct racial discrimination takes place when a person purposely goes out of their way to exclude someone specifically because of their race. These actions are normally very direct, thoughtless and are intended to get an instant reaction.
An Afro-Caribbean Society restricts admission based purely on applicants’ skin colour. This is a form of direct discrimination. They haven’t taken into consideration the amount of people who may indeed be from BME that are also of Caucasian descent.
What can you do to overcome racism?
- Embrace and accept who you are. It may be unfortunate that some small-minded people may try to judge and discriminate against you because of your ethnic origins. Always feel comfortable and confident with who you are.
- Do not let racist attitudes exclude you from society: Racists want people to be segregated so by you withdrawing yourself from that situation you are letting them win.
- Racism is a learned behaviour. If you are being subjected to racism in school, college in the workplace or online, report it. People, such as teachers can speak to perpetrators to help change their behaviour and attitudes. If you feel the appropriate action is still not being taken, report it to the police.
- By reporting racism you are not only helping yourself – but you are also helping someone else from experiencing this prejudice.
- Be open to accepting people of all races; encourage your friends and family to do the same.
6 Things you didn’t know about racism:
- People of the same ethnicity can practice racism. For example, if a white female made a negative comment to another white female because of the fact she was raised in a Romany Gypsy community, this is racism.
- Saying “racism is better now than it was 30 years ago” is the equivalent of saying “cancer is better now than it was 30 years ago”. Yes, we’re better at understanding and tackling it, but cancer is still cancer.
- A racist incident can be defined as “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”
- If you witness a racist incident that causes you offence, you have the legal right to report that incident to the police, even if you don’t know the victim or the perpetrator.
- A racially or religiously aggravated offence can carry a maximum sentence of 14 years in the UK Criminal Justice System.
- Skin colour really is only skin deep. Most traits are inherited independently from one another. The genes influencing skin colour have nothing to do with the genes influencing hair form, eye shape, blood type, musical talent, athletic ability or intelligence. Knowing someone’s skin colour doesn’t necessarily tell you anything else about him or her.
If you are being discriminated against or bullied because of your race, speak up! You are not alone, and together we can beat racism. Get help from Ditch the Label and start a conversation in community.