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Difference between Racism, Discrimination and Prejudice

The racism it is the belief that people belong to different races and that one race is superior to the others.

The discrimination it is the action based on prejudice and happens when there is differential treatment towards someone for being part of a group, category or class.

racism discrimination Prejudice
definition Racism is the belief that members of a race have specific characteristics, abilities, or qualities attributed to that race. Discrimination is differential treatment (unfair or negative) directed towards a person for belonging to a certain class, group or category (such as ethnic origin, gender and age). It is an actionable prejudice. A prejudice is a preconceived opinion about a person or a group, which is not based on previous experience, nor is it based on an objective reason.
reason It is the result of prejudice, the cause of which can be antipathy or hatred towards people with different physical characteristics, such as skin tone, customs, traditions, language or place of birth. It is caused by the prejudice that exists towards people of different age, gender, ethnic group, abilities, sexual orientation, educational level, marital status or family background. Based on the lack of knowledge, training received and social dynamics of the group of those who maintain it.
Consequences It can lead to discrimination or racial prejudice. It leads to the rejection and exclusion of a certain group of people, causing social exclusion, bullyingracial segregation and other similar practices. It can lead to racism or discrimination against a certain group.
Demonstration It can be a belief or attitude. It is an action, based on a prejudice. It can be a belief or attitude.
Nature Conscious and unconscious. Conscious and unconscious. unconscious
examples When a person believes that an individual has violent tendencies based on their skin color or ethnic group. When men and women have the same professional and academic qualifications to do a job, but there is a wage inequality that favors men. When someone considers that people from a social or poor neighborhood are dangerous to live there.

What is Racism?

Racism is the belief that members of a race have specific characteristics, abilities, or qualities and that these characteristics determine their superiority.

Racism takes the form of actions, social beliefs, practices and policies against individuals for being members of a specific race.

Characteristics of racism

  • It can be individual (personal beliefs and assumptions) or systemic or institutionalized (segregation policies of a State).
  • The idea of ​​race is used to categorize and divide people and groups.
  • It proposes the superiority of one group over another, as well as of their respective members.
  • Many physical differences are based on phenotypic traits, such as skin or hair color.
  • Racial or ethnic stereotypes are used to delimit the social status, type of work, educational level and other variables, that an individual has.
  • It promotes racial segregation, both explicitly and subtly.
  • Condescension and presumption of inferiority about the abilities of members of another racial group (eg, believing that members of one race do not have the same intellectual capacity as members of another race).
  • It promotes an atmosphere of ignorance or indifference about the cultural practices, traditions, and social problems of other racial groups.
  • Maintains a bias on the negative aspects of other groups. For example, holding that members of a certain group have a stronger natural inclination towards crime and violence because of their race.
  • Those who practice racism do not recognize the prejudice on which it is based or the consequences it has on those who suffer from it.

Kind of racism

  • Individual racism: personal opinions or actions, offenses and explicit attacks that one person commits against another on the grounds of race, with the intention of causing harm.
  • Racial discrimination or segregation: is the separation of groups through a process of social division.
  • Systemic or institutional racism: racial discrimination by governments, corporations, religious and educational institutions, or other large organizations that influence people’s lives.
  • Racism and civil rights: in this area there is the historical, economic or social disparity caused by past racism. Its repercussions reach the current generations, manifesting in racist attitudes and unconscious actions of people.
  • Cultural racism: it occurs when cultural values ​​and practices are defined by members of a racial group, such as the standard of “high culture” or “true art,” while ignoring or even eliminating cultural practices and perceptions about the art of other groups.

Learn more about the Difference between racism and xenophobia.

What is Discrimination

Discrimination is the expression of prejudice in an action. It happens when there is differential behavior towards members of a group, usually negative, on the grounds of origin, sex, group membership, sexual orientation, age or any other affiliation.

Discrimination involves the rejection of members of a different group, through unfavorable, different, offensive or exclusionary treatment.

A person does not necessarily commit a discriminatory act when they are prejudiced or racist, because for it to be discrimination, that person must commit some action.

Characteristics of discrimination

  • Because it is the expression of prejudice, negative discrimination is not based on any objective reason.
  • It involves different types of exclusion or segregation, for example, separating groups based on skin color or religious beliefs.
  • There are forms of positive discrimination, usually from an institutional or policy perspective, offered to populations that have been affected by some form of negative discrimination. An example is the reservation of access quotas to educational institutions or public places for minorities or women.
  • It can be direct: a person is discriminated against because he is one way, depending on the perspective of the person who discriminates.
  • It can be indirect: when there is a treatment that may seem neutral to all people, but ends up negatively affecting a person or group.
  • It can be expressed as harassment or caning.

Type of discrimination

  • By age: access to jobs, studies or other opportunities for personal and professional development is limited due to a person’s disability.
  • For physical disability: a person is discriminated against because of their physical characteristics, limiting their professional possibilities or personal development.
  • Gender or sex: it is generally given against women. For example, it occurs when there is wage inequality or the ability of women to carry out certain activities is questioned and limited.
  • Racial or ethnic origin: it occurs against an individual or group because of their racial or ethnic origin. Racial segregation, limited access to workplaces and abusive and violent treatment by the authorities are examples of this type of discrimination.
  • Xenophobia: when a person is discriminated against or rejected for being a foreigner.
  • religious: stands against someone because of their religious beliefs. Access to services is denied, freedom of expression is limited, offense is taken or violence is used against anyone who has a different creed.

What is Prejudice

The word prejudice refers to a preconceived attitude that is held about an individual or group, without any objective facts or reasons to motivate it.

This word is often used to refer to a negative attitude that someone has about members of a certain group. For example, when someone considers an individual or group to be different or inferior because of their ethnic or racial origin, gender, nationality, social status, sexual orientation or religion.

Characteristics of prejudices

  • If it is negative, it is derogatory, against someone or something; when it has a positive character, it can manifest itself as a preference for something or someone.
  • It can present itself on an emotional level, such as holding negative feelings towards a person simply because they are considered a member of a group.
  • It can be presented at the behavioral level, generating behaviors that can lead to violence or discrimination.
  • It can be presented at a cognitive level, based on beliefs or stereotypes, and ignoring objective facts.
  • It is resistant to change, even if there is evidence that a perspective about someone is incorrect, the prejudice generally remains.
  • It has a social origin and is affected by intergroup relations.
  • How a prejudice is adopted and maintained is unique to each individual.

Types of prejudice

  • Racism: the belief that members of one group share specific characteristics that make them inferior to another group.
  • Sexism: the supposed idea that members of one sex are inferior for being that sex. It is generally directed against women by men.
  • Homophobia: antipathy, contempt, aversion or hatred of people with a different sexual orientation, specifically towards homosexual people.
  • Religious discrimination: valuing or looking down on a person or group because of their religious beliefs.

See also:

Catherine Chen

Reviewed by Caterina Chen

Graduated in 2006 in Communication Sciences from the University of the Americas, with post-title in Management Strategies and Control from the University of Chile in 2008.

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