Say NO to Racism!
Racial discrimination and what you can do to combat it
What is racism?
RACISM is the mistreatment of a group of people on the basis of race, colour, religion, national origin, place of origin or ancestry. The term racism may also denote a blind and unreasoning hatred, envy or prejudice.
Some expressions of racism are obvious, such as graffiti, intimidation or physical violence.
Racial and ethnic slurs or so-called "jokes" are other examples of obvious racial discrimination.
Unfortunately, they are often ignored because people do not know how to deal with them.
Other expressions of racism are more subtle, such as discrimination in hiring, apartment rentals and admission to clubs.
What is meant by discrimination? stereotype? prejudice?
DISCRIMINATION is the denial of equality based on personal characteristics, such as race and colour. Discrimination is usually based on prejudice and stereotypes.
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 are often negative.
PREJUDICE literally means to "prejudge" based on preconceived ideas about others. No law can prevent prejudiced attitudes. However, the law can prohibit discriminatory practices and behaviours flowing from prejudice.
What are the effects of racial discrimination?
Racism poisons the atmosphere of trust we need in order to live in peace and harmony. Racist jokes and racial discrimination leave their victims feeling helpless and fearful. Racial discrimination also has a negative impact on workers' productivity and economic per-formance. In contrast, a greater acceptance of our social diversity contributes to social harmony and economic well-being.
Do I have a responsibility to speak out against racism?
Yes, you do. Otherwise, your silence may be interpreted as tacit approval of discrimination. You have the right, as well as the responsibility, to speak out against racism.
What can I do to combat racial discrimination?
Some countries have legislations against racist acts. In New Brunswick, Canada for example, you can file a complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission. If another person files a complaint, you can support him or her by cooperating with the investigating officer.
In addition, you can combat racism in the following ways:
A. Suggested activities for the community
- Take part in activities marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination every 21 March.
- Join organisations 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 organisations can work together to promote positive race relations.
- Suggest that your community develop a policy statement against all forms of racial discrimination.
B. In schools
- Object to racist jokes and insults.
- Organise an intercultural music or film festival.
- Invite guests to speak on racism and human rights.
- Organise 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 organisations 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.
- Organise a lunch time 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.
The Human Rights Act of New Brunswick (Canada) prohibits discrimination on many grounds, including race, colour, religion, national origin, place of origin and ancestry. The areas where discrimination is prohibited include:
- all aspects of employment;
- leasing and sale of premises;
- accommodation, services or facilities available to the public;
- membership in labour unions and professional, business or trade associations;
Source: A Primer from the Human Rights Commission of New Brunswick, Canada, Website: <http://www.gov.nb.ca/hrc-cdp/e/sayno.htm>, New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, 1998.
Essay/Term paper: Racsism
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Racism is a certain kind of prejudice, based on faulty reasoning and
inflexible generalizations toward a specific group. The word prejudice
comes from the Latin noun praejudicium, which means a judgment based on
previous decisions formed before the facts were known. If a person
allows their prejudiced beliefs to block the progress of another, it is
discrimination. Those who exclude all members of a race from certain
types of employment, housing, political rights, educational
opportunities, or a social interactions are guilty of racial
For centuries conflicts have taken place among three main races,
Caucasian, Asian, and Negro ranging from snobbish social exclusion, to
state- sponsored genocide. Racism is an unmerited fear or dislike of
a people because of their ethnic heritage. When colour is not a reason,
other reasons such as language, religion, nationality, education, sex,
or age become the reason of prejudice.
Sociologists, historians, anthropologists and archeologists believe
racial discrimination happens more often and most harshly when two
groups with different skin colours and unique physical features come
into contact with each other and the two compete for the same thing.
History shows that all attempts at a racial dominance result in
conflict and avoidance. But, some communities without disturbed
racial conflict can take advantage of all its citizens potential and
move toward elimination.
Our hate is caused by witnessing the behaviour of the Ku Klux Klan, our
unfavourable feeling toward a person without actual facts and the verbal
abuse that we get almost every day of our lives (if not us, then there
is someone in the world being hurt right this very minute.). The most
effective way which I believe this issue can start to be stopped is by
talking it out rationally without involving racism at that point in time
and bringing everybody together as equal as the next.
Africans were brought to the colonies and forced to work a lifetime for
no wages. The master took all the profits to save the small amount he
used to provide food, clothing and shelter for his slaves. Without
being able to read or write, the first Africans in America had no
defence against the refusal of their people. The dehumanization of the
African-American slave stands out as one of the most brutal and savage
torture in history.
Not being able to defend yourself against the hurt that people can put
a person through, can scar you for life. We need to see what the
world is doing to each other and instead of turning to violence or some
other kind of defence to get even. It would be easier if we just come
together as one and help the people who are discriminated against in
understanding that they are not what person"s say they are.
From birth to about age twelve, children collect information
about their world. They learn from many ways including their school,
family, neighbours, friends, and the community. They also get
information from books, movies, television, and other media. From this
information they gain beliefs, attitudes, and opinions.
(An opinion is a belief that is stronger than impression and less
strong than positive knowledge.)
Attitudes are feelings and emotions held toward a person, idea, or
Attitude, opinions and the way we treat people are based on our
beliefs. If beliefs are prejudiced, then our attitude and behaviour
will be the same. Racism is a belief based on faulty reasoning,
misconceptions, and generalizations. Stereotyping is an exaggerated
belief associated with a group. It is produced by name calling, racial
slurs, and jokes.
Victims of prejudice often develop a faulty belief in the same way
children learn to be prejudiced. They learn to protect themselves by
creating self defences essential to their survival. A slur directed at
a particular ethnic group is likely to get these results in a
confrontation: pain, anger, shame, hostility, guilt and embarrassment.
Students admitted that they had used racial slurs when angered. I have
noticed in our own school, that the students tell racial jokes and used
ethnic names but they say that they don"t mean what they say it"s just
for humour"s sake.
Race hatred often leads to violence. People whom form groups to
defend America from a minority takeover fall into the category of
extremists. There are gangs in America today who walk the streets
measuring out a perverse form of justice to a whole race by choosing
an innocent person of such race to beat or kill. Such gangs are usually
powerless as people, so they seek strength in numbers. People with
shared hatred gain a pseudo power within the organizational structures
of such groups as the neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.
Race hatred, permitted to gain unlimited power, will be disastrous.
The state - sponsored genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany is an example
of what happens when people who hate gain power. Hitler"s extermination
took the lives of six million human beings for no other reason than they
It started in little ways, an ethnic joke, stereotyping that was never
challenged, then restrictions, loss of jobs, loss of civil rights, loss
of voting rights, and the loss of life.
Racists have very specific beliefs about their own groups and others.
Columnist Ellen Futterman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says, We are
guilty of race prejudice. We might go out of our way to avoid certain
words and phrases in our everyday speech only to find ourselves laughing
at a racial or ethnic joke later. Even though we may say that we could
never be racist or prejudice against a certain type of person, (I"m not
saying we are), it is interesting how someone can just say something
hurtful and not even realize what has been said.
What can be done to stop racism? A famous document from the Johnson
era, called the Kerner Report, stated that there must be strategies for
action that can produce progress and make good the promises of American
democracy to all citizens urban and rural, white and black, Spanish
surname, American Indians and every minority. We can"t expect only the
people of colour to take a stand in the elimination of racism. This
issue includes each and every one of us whether it is black, white,
orange, yellow, Australian, Russian, Ukrainian, or Irish.
If you have been called names that are directed to your colour, race,
the way you talk, act, or walk, you have experienced racism. (Based on
the lives of human rights leaders, there is no single way to take a
stand. Each person has to decide whether to take a leadership role or
to follow a leader, whose beliefs or goals he or she shares.
Taking a stand against racism and discrimination is not casual
involvement. It is a total commitment).
Racism is an emotionally charged subject. If you have ever been
discriminated against, you know it is difficult to think or act calmly.
The first reaction is to attack. But it is only fair when taking a
stand against racism or discrimination that you state your case
directly, fairly, and accurately, using facts, and evidence to support
your claims. Before you can take a stand against racism and race
discrimination, you need to know what it is, how it develops, and how to
recognize it in you and others. According to Alfred Fleishman, St.
Louis newspaper columnist, Racial prejudice is one of the scourges of
our society. And when it grows and lurks, especially where it is not
even noticed, the danger is even greater.
Up to the point of life which we are in now, we don"t even realize
what we say, the jokes we tell or the music we listen to. Some think
of some major issues as a joke but really there is always someone
being hurt whether they show it or not.
Today we stand for equality, justice and freedom. Where Canada and
America stand on racism and discrimination today and tomorrow is where
we stand because we are what is needed to stop the hate.
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