Racial Discrimination

By: Jessica Fearon


Racism is a form a discrimination where the belief is that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Racism manifests itself in many different ways. It ranges from individual bigotry, stereotyping, prejudice, hate-speech, assaults and murder to anti-immigrant actions, labor market segmentation, police brutality, racial profiling, unequal incarceration rates, corporate attacks on the welfare state, and imperialist foreign policies.

History of Racial Discrimination

The origins of racism date back to the Renaissance and the Reformation period of time. During this time, Jews were associated with the devil and witchcraft. Antisemitism grew with the growth of Christianity. As the Christian faith became more popular, Jewish people became outcasts. Later on in history, we see the rise of antisemitism once again, with Adolf Hitler as a leader. Antisemitism is prejudice, hostility or discrimination against Jews. Their value was stripped down to less than human. Even though Judaism is a religion and not a race, those who had "Jewish features" were stereotyped against. The Holocaust was a dark period time for the world.

It was also during the Renaissance era where the Europeans were increasingly coming into contact with people from Africa, Asia and the Americas. Originally, the basis for the African slave trade was that they were heathens but in 1667, Virginia passed the law that Africans could be enslaved, not because they were heathen but because of their heathen ancestors. This is where the discrimination began to shift from religion based to race based. In the late seventeenth century, laws were passed in North America forbidding the marriage of Caucasians and Africans. These laws implied the inferiority of the black race. During the twentieth century, in the South of America, the passage of racial segregation laws and restrictions on black voting rights reduced African Americans to lower caste status. Extremely racist propaganda represented black males as ravening beasts lusting after white women and served to rationalize the practice of lynching. A key feature of the racist regime maintained by state law in the South was a fear of sexual contamination through rape or intermarriage, which led to efforts to prevent the conjugal union of whites with those with any known or discernible African ancestry.

The history of racial discrimination has had lasting repercussions that still plague society today.

Racism on a Global Level

The United States of America

Racism is a problem all around the world. Currently in America, racism is a huge issue. As terrorist attacks have become more frequent, racism towards Muslims has increased dramatically.
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In the video below, a Sikh boy is being bullied because of his race. They call out terrible things at him, including "terrorist!" They threaten him and not a single person sticks up for him.
Sikh boy records racist school bus bullies calling him ‘terrorist’ for wearing turban
Racism in relation to police brutality has recently been flooding the media. The focus of this racism is against African-Americans for the most part. There have been numerous cases where the police has used unnecessary force to make an arrest. In this specific case, 43 year old Eric Garner was sitting outside a block of houses when a fight broke out between to people near him. Eric got up, and broke up the fight. An undercover cop jumped out of his car, and the two other men fled the scene. Eric stayed, thinking he was going to give a testimony of what took place but instead, they were looking to arrest him. After minutes of Eric attempting to defend himself, a group of officers surrounded him. An officer put him in a choke hold, then proceeded to tackle him to the ground. Eric Garner had asthma and could not breathe. This unnecessary force costed a man his life and tore a father away from his family.

Please watch from 0:43 to 2:25.

Eric Garner’s Children Discuss Grand Jury Decision Not to Indict


Racism is a problem all around the world.

Throughout Western Europe, there has been a rise in racist attacks and sentiments against both Arabs and Jews, in light of the increasing hostilities in the Middle East. In 2010, violence against African farmers left 70 people injured. Greece has one of the worst records for racism against ethnic groups in Europe. The target of most of this racism are Albanian immigrants.

Australia has also had a very racist past in which apartheid has been practiced and where indigenous Aboriginal people have lost almost all their land and suffered many prejudices.

Though Caucasians are generally seen as the superior race, they face discrimination as well. For example, in African countries such as Zimbabwe, there has been increasing racism against the white farmers, due to poverty and lack of ownership by Africans.

In Asian countries, racist views have developed. In Cambodia, there has been a strong anti-Vietnamese sentiment.In Indonesia there has been a lot of violence against the affluent Chinese population who have been blamed for economic problems that have plagued the country in recent years.

Racism around the world fuels inequality. As long a racist mindsets prevail, the world will never truly be united. If society wants to work towards justice and equity, racial discrimination must cease to exist.

Racism in Canada

Just like every other country, Canada struggles with racism. One of the strongest forms that can be seen is against Aboriginals. The living standard of Aboriginal peoples in Canada falls far short of those of non-Aboriginals. They, along with other minorities, continue to encounter barriers in gaining equality. Aboriginal life expectancy is lower; they have fewer high school graduates, higher unemployment, almost twice as many infant deaths and spend more time in jail. They have lower incomes, enjoy fewer promotions in the workplace and remain, as a group, the poorest in Canada. A system of ‘industrial schools’ was developed in the 19th century which combined academic studies with ”more practical matters” and schools for Natives began to appear in the 1840s. Their motto was ”Kill the Indian in him and save the man.”. It was felt that the most effective weapon for ”killing the Indian” in them, was to remove children from their Native supports and so Native children were taken away from their homes, their parent, their families, friends and communities. The worst aspect of Canada’s residential schools was the abuse: emotional, physical and sexual. Punishments were often brutal and cruel, sometimes even life threatening or life ending.

Most residential schools closed in the 1970s. Criminal and civil suits against the government and the churches began in the late 1980’s and shortly after the last residential school closed. In the 1990s, beginning with the United Church, the churches that ran the residential schools began to issue formal apologies. In 1998 the Canadian government issued the Statement of Reconciliation, and gave $350 million in support of a community-based healing strategy to address the healing needs of individuals, families and communities arising from the legacy of physical and sexual abuse at residential schools. The money was used to launch the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

There is clear inequality for minorities in Canada. In survey conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBCNews), roughly one in six Canadian adults, about four million people, have been victims of racism. A report done by Professor Orstein of York University investigated poverty among visible minorities. The report found that "While 14% of European families live below the Low Income Cut Off, the percentage is much higher for non-Europeans: 32.1% for Aboriginals; 35% for South Asians; 45% for Africans, Blacks and Caribbeans; and 45% for Arabs and West Asians." In addition, of all children, 34% live in poverty; and, of all women, 41% live in poverty; and, of all female lone parents, 60% live in poverty. Toronto's average unemployment rate is 7%, but the rates for many minority groups can be up to six times higher.

In America, the statistics are most of the same. Please watch the video below from 0:14 to 0:52.

What Is Systemic Racism? - Wealth Gap

Explanations of Racial Discrimination


Functionalist view argue that racism and discrimination do contribute positively, but only to the dominant group. Historically, it has indeed served dominant groups well to discriminate against subordinate groups. Slavery was an example of this. Holding racist views can benefit those who want to deny rights and privileges to people they view as inferior to them, but over time, racism harms society. Outcomes of race-based disadvantages—such as poverty levels, crime rates, and discrepancies in employment and education opportunities—show the negative results of slavery and racism in society.

Marxism/Conflict Theory

A conflict theory perspective of U.S. history would examine the numerous past and current struggles between the white ruling class and racial and ethnic minorities, noting specific conflicts that have arisen when the dominant group perceived a threat from the minority group.

Social Identity Theory

Henri Tajfel helped to develop Social Identity Theory. He says that we divide the world into “them” and “us” based through a process of social categorization, meaning that we put people into social groups. This is known as in-group and out-group. Social identity theory states that the in-group will discriminate against the out-group to enhance their self-image. The central hypothesis of social identity theory is that group members of an in-group will seek to find negative aspects of an out-group, to enhance their self-image.

Prejudiced views between cultures may result in racism; in its extreme forms, racism may result in genocide, such as occurred in Germany with the Jews.

Henri Tajfel proposed that stereotyping based on a normal cognitive process: the tendency to group things together. In doing so we tend to exaggerate:

1. the differences between groups

2. the similarities of things in the same group.

We categorize people in the same way. We see the group to which we belong (the in-group) as being different from the others (the out-group), and members of the same group as being more similar than they are. Social categorization is one explanation for prejudice attitudes, which leads to in-groups and out-groups.

Symbolic Interactionism

For symbolic interactionists, race and ethnicity provide strong symbols as sources of identity. Some interactionists say that the symbols of race, not race itself, are what lead to racism. Interactionist Herbert Blumer (1958) suggested that racial prejudice is formed through interactions between members of the dominant group: Without these interactions, individuals in the dominant group would not hold racist views. These interactions contribute to an abstract picture of the subordinate group that allows the dominant group to support its view of the subordinate group, to keep the norms. For example, an individual may have a belief about a specific racial group that is based off of images presented in the media only because the individual has never personally met a member of that group.

Repercussions of Racial Discrimination

Effect on Society

Racial profiling and discrimination can have very serious consequences. In world that is working towards fairness, racial discrimination is an obstacle yet to over come. Discrimination affects people emotionally and psychologically. It can lead to segregation, low self-esteem, bullying, and inequality. There is race based discrimination found in the work place. An experiment found that in the initial review of resumes, applicants were already at a disadvantage if their names suggested they were Black. The researchers sent resumes with similar qualifications in response to 1,300 employment advertisements. They changed only the name of the applicant (using a name perceived as White, such as Greg Baker, or a name perceived as Black, such as Jamal James) and found that applicants with White sounding names were 50% more likely to receive a callback than applicants with Black sounding names. When they manipulated the quality of the resumes, higher quality White applicants were 30% more likely to receive a callback than lower quality White applicants, whereas Black applicants with higher quality resumes only received an 8% boost over lower quality Black applicants. Minority groups are at a disadvantage in the workforce.

A lot of minority groups do not feel represented or as important as the dominant group. They feel secondary.

In the video below, Bernadette Smith, who's sister went missing at the age of 21, speaks out about the lack of privilege among Aboriginals. Tina Fontaine was a girl whose body was found at the bottom of a lake after she was murdered. The truth is that there have been countless cases of Aboriginal girls going missing and nothing has been done about it.

Please watch from 14:23 to 16:16

Our Canada: Are We Racist?

The HDI and Multinational Corporations

HDI is more suitable than economic growth alone, but it does not take into account different types of discrimination. For example, the United States of America is ranked 8th on the Human Development Index but they are one of the most racist countries in the world. Many racist stereotypes and ideologies stem from America. Living as a stereotype diminishes quality of life. It is not being able to reach your full potential due to external factors. A multinational corporation is a corporation that has facilities in at least one other country than its own. These corporations have a lot of power. A way that they can promote racial equality is by eliminating racial profiling concerning resumes.


How Can We Help?


Racist slurs and ideas are frequently in the media and because of this, society is accepts racism. When someone sees something constantly, they will become desensitized to it. Society has become numb towards racism.

The video below is a video survey done by a couple of students at Louisiana State University. They question they have been asked in the video is, "Is it okay for popular shows to poke fun at various ethnic groups?"

Please watch from 4:30 to 5:13.

Racism & Media: How It Affects You

A lot of the time, our perception of another race is built upon stereotypes presented in the media.

When it comes to racism, ignorance is not bliss. Society does not need to be "colour blind." We must recognize as a whole that racism still exists, and that it will not go away on it's own.

Please watch from 2:34 to 4:20.

Why we're trying to solve racism the wrong way

Racism is wrong, so fight for what is right. Confront the racism within the self. Practise empathy towards those who are different; we’re all human after all. When witnessing racial discrimination, speak up and stand for what is right. Remember that if any kind of injustice is allowed to thrive in our society, all forms can. Be educated about different forms of racism and where they take place.

What Can Canada do?

Can racism be stopped? Is there a way to end racial inequality? The only way racism can cease to exist is if the mindset of everyone can be changed. That is hard but not impossible. Canada, as a global ambassador, can work towards improvement.

Canada can advocate for Affirmative Action practices in education and employment. Countless studies have found that, qualifications being equal, people of colour are rejected for employment and admission to educational institutions far more than white people. Affirmative Action initiatives help mediate this problem of racist exclusion. Also through education, the government will be able to educate it's people about other races and cultures. If this type of education begins at an early age, children will grow up with more accepting points of view. Canada can be an example to other countries. Once Canada starts, other countries will follow.