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Recognize It

  • Security follows an African-American woman around a department store.
  • A white man locks his car doors as a Hispanic man passes by.
  • A teacher is sure the new Asian student in her class will come to be a top student.

Are these racist acts?

At first glance, it may seem so. Racism, however, is a complex issue and situations that seem discriminatory may require more information or depend on the situation's context. Making it even more complicate to define, determining a racist act depends on the motivations of those involved, whether they be conscious or subconscious.

Ultimately, we must all be aware of our actions and what drives them. Take the first example above, the motivations of the security guard must be considered. Is the guard following the African-American woman around the store, because they resemble a robber he or she had seen on the news, it may be considered racism.

Define It

Racism is the systematic mistreatment of people of color based on the belief in the inherent superiority of one race and thereby the right to dominance. Racism is one manifestation of institutionalized differences in economic, social, and political power in which members of some ethnic and cultural groups benefit at the expense of others.

Learn how other forms of discrimination are defined.

Question It

  • Do you ever question your own prejudice?
  • Has anyone ever called you out for being racially insensitive? If someone did, how would you feel?
  • Do you ever notice character stereotyping in TV, music or movies?
  • Is there such a thing as a positive stereotype? If so, what is an example of one and what effect does it have?

Check Yourself. Ever wonder whether you have hidden biases? Click here to take a test and find out.

Key Statistics
  • African-American motorists are 6 times more likely to be stopped than white motorists. (Source: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP)
  • While people of color are numerically a minority in the United States, they make up 90% of the world's population. (Source: Southern Poverty Law Center)

Check Yourself

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