Racism is destructive. It disempowers people by devaluing their identity. It destroys community cohesion and creates divisions in society. It is the opposite of the democratic principle of equality and the right of all people to be treated fairly.
An understanding of the nature of racism is essential in order to recognise and counter it successfully. Racism is a global phenomenon which is influenced by a range of historical, social, political and economic factors. It takes different forms in different contexts and as a result has been defined in many different ways.
Racist attitudes may be manifested in a number of ways including common expressions of racial prejudice towards and stereotyped assumptions about other cultures as well as more extreme forms of prejudice such as xenophobia. These beliefs are reinforced by prevailing social attitudes towards people who are seen as different and are often a reflection of the values which underpin social relations and institutional practices.
These attitudes and beliefs find expression in racist behaviours, both in the actions of individuals and in the policies and entrenched practices of institutions. Where these behaviours involve unequal power relationships between individuals or groups from different cultural backgrounds, racist actions on the part of members of the dominant culture have the effect of marginalising those from minority groups.
Examples of racist behaviour include ridicule, racist abuse, property damage, racial harassment, racist propaganda, racial vilification and physical assault. It also includes practices that exploit or exclude members of particular groups from aspects of society. Extreme examples of racist behaviour include ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Millions of people have been denied or stripped of citizenship in their own countries solely because of their race, national descent, and gender. In many countries, children born in their motherÃÂs country are denied her nationality because women can not...