What Is Racism?

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

- Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream (1963)

Podcast of the Day

Why are some people racist and judge others by the colour of their skin? Is it some deep seated fear of the ‘other’ which has roots in genetic and cultural difference or are exposure to artificial factors constructed by politicians and the media to blame?

This week's Why Factor with presenter Jo Fidgeon explores the experience of racism around the world and in different societies. She finds out about the personal experiences of racism and how it affects peoples’ everyday lives. She also begins to understand how racism is perpetuated through generations and cemented through institutional racism.

Listen to The Why Factor episode on Racism

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Donald Trump proclaimed during his inaugural address, “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”

Opening our hearts to patriotism will not solve the problem of racist ideas. Some of the nation’s proudest patriots have also been the nation’s most virulent racists. The organizing principle of the Ku Klux Klan has always been allegiance to the red, white and blue flag.

Lacking patriotism is not the root of racist ideas. But neither is ignorance and hate, as Americans are taught so often during Black History Month.

Contrary to popular conceptions, ignorant and hateful people have not been behind the production and reproduction of racist ideas in America. Instead, racist ideas have usually been produced by some of the most brilliant and cunning minds of each era. And these women and men generally did not produce these ideas because they hated black people...

Continue reading Ibram X. Kendi's article: Uncovering the roots of racist ideas in America

Further Reading

Discrimination is prohibited by six of the core international human rights documents. The vast majority of the world’s states have constitutional or statutory provisions outlawing discrimination. (Osin and Porat 2005) And most philosophical, political, and legal discussions of discrimination proceed on the premise that discrimination is morally wrong and, in a wide range of cases, ought to be legally prohibited. However, co-existing with this impressive global consensus are many contested questions, suggesting that there is less agreement about discrimination than initially meets the eye. What is discrimination? Is it a conceptual truth that discrimination is wrong, or is it a substantive moral judgment? What is the relation of discrimination to oppression and exploitation? What are the categories on which acts of discrimination can be based, aside from such paradigmatic classifications as race, religion, and sex?...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Discrimination by Andrew Altman

Related Topics

 Civil Disobedience | Colonialism | Culture | Equality | FreedomHate | Human Rights | Justice | Political Philosophy | Power | Sociology

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