What is racism?

means attitudes, practices and other factors that disadvantage people because of their race, color or ethnicity. Racism can be directed against any race, color or ethnicity.

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 them.

Other forms of racism are not obvious, such as discrimination in hiring and apartment rentals, or policies that disadvantage members of certain races, whether intentionally or not.

Racism exists at three main levels: individual, institutional and cultural.

Individual racism takes the form of individual attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors. Racial prejudice, bigotry, belittling and jealousy are examples of racist attitudes. Examples of racist beliefs are racial stereotypes, the belief that some races are better than others and even the belief that people can be classified according to race in the first place. Violence, name-calling and discrimination in hiring are examples of racist behavior.

Institutional or systemic racism takes the form of the practices, customs, rules and standards of organizations, including governments that unnecessarily disadvantage people because of their race, color or ethnicity. They do not always involve differences in treatment. Educational requirements that are not related to actual job duties are an example.

Cultural racism involves the cultural values and standards that disadvantage people because of their race, color or ethnicity. Examples are cultural expectations as to the race of a company president and the cultural standard for what a beautiful, trustworthy or competent person looks like.

What is meant by prejudice, stereotype and discrimination?

Prejudice literally means "prejudgment." A prejudice is a preconceived negative opinion or attitude about a group of people.

Stereotype means "set image." The word comes from the process of making metal plates for printing. When applied to people, stereotyping refers to forming an instant or fixed picture of a group of people, usually based on false or incomplete information. Stereotypes ignore the fact that no two human beings are identical. Stereotypes are often negative.

Discrimination is anything that has the effect, intentional or not, of limiting the opportunities of certain individuals or groups because of personal characteristics such as race or color. Unlike prejudice, discrimination is an effect or result, not an attitude. Discrimination sometimes results from prejudice or stereotypes.

However, it also comes from the failure (intentional or not) to avoid practices that disadvantage certain groups more than others when the disadvantage could be eliminated without causing undue hardship

What can I do to stop racism?

First of all, speak out against racism. Otherwise, your silence may be interpreted as tacit approval of discrimination. You have the right, as well as the responsibility, to speak out.

In addition, you can stop racism in the following ways:

In the community:
- Take part in activities marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination every March 21.
- Join organizations dealing with issues of racism and human rights.
- Suggest that your local newspaper publish a special section on the racial and cultural diversity of your community.
- Create a speakers’ bureau of persons willing to speak about racism and human rights.
- Explore ways in which community organizations can work together to promote positive race relations.
- Suggest that your community develop a policy statement against all forms of racial discrimination.

In schools:
- Object to racist jokes and insults.
- Organize an inter-cultural music or film festival.
- Invite guests to speak on racism and human rights.
-Organize a poster or essay contest.
- Show films on prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination and racism.
- Examine the contents of television, film, radio and newspapers for stereotypes. Identify and discuss the stereotypes.
- Find out about human rights organizations in your area and what role they play.
- Suggest that your class or school develop a policy statement against all forms of racial discrimination.

In the workplace:
- Object to racist jokes and insults.
- Encourage dialogue on racism and human rights.
- Organize a lunchtime film series.
- Encourage human rights awareness at union meetings through guest speakers, films or other presentations.
- Examine hiring practices to ensure equality of opportunity for all.
- Develop clear policy statements against all forms of racial discrimination and define ways to make them work through cooperation and consensus.

For full text of this article, please visit the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission website @: http://www.gnb.ca/hrc-cdp/e/sayno.htm#stop


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