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Racism: A Very Short Introduction (1st edn)

Racism: A Very Short Introduction (1st edn)

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Racism: A Very Short Introduction incorporates the latest research to demystify the subject and to explore its history, science, and culture. But what actually is race? How has racism come to be so firmly established? Why do so few people actually admit to being racist? How are race, ethnicity, and xenophobia related? How has racism evolved since its earliest beginnings? It seems paradoxical that it still exists despite scientific discrediting of the notion of ‘race’ with the latest advances in genetics. From subtle discrimination in everyday life and scandals in politics, to incidents like lynchings in the American South, cultural imperialism, and ‘ethnic cleansing’, racism exists in many different forms, in almost every facet of society.

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  • Essays On Race
  • Non-Fiction
  • Anti-Asian Racism
  • Faculty Resources on Anti-Racism This link opens in a new window
  • Streaming Videos
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  • Unpacking the Intersections of Race and Racism within Catholicism
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Cover Art

  The Heart of the Uprising in Minneapolis , by Luke Mogelson.  New Yorker , June 15, 2020.

A look at how the response to the murder of George Floyd is connected to the history and future of the black community in Minneapolis.

1619 Project , New York Times 2019. 

A series of essays that examine the ongoing legacy of slavery from economics to health care to politics.

Making Black Lives Matter in the Mall of America , by Erik Forman.  New Inquiry , June 3, 2016.

A look at how race and labor intersect with modern commerce.

The Case for Reparations , by Ta-Nehesi Coates.  The Atlantic , June 2014.

How the historic debts from slavery, Jim Crow laws, housing discrimination and unequal pay must be redressed. 

How to Cool It , by James Baldwin.  Esquire , July 1968. 

A classic essay that, sadly, could have been written about current circumstances – racism, police brutality, and unequal opportunities for Black America. 

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Black History Month: What is it and why is it important?

Black History Month - A visitor at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

Black History Month is an opportunity to understand Black histories. Image:  Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

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racism essay pdf

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A hand holding a looking glass by a lake

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Stay up to date:, economic progress.

This article was originally published in February 2021 and has been updated .

  • A continued engagement with history is vital as it helps give context for the present.
  • Black History Month is an opportunity to understand Black histories, going beyond stories of racism and slavery to spotlight Black achievement.
  • This year's theme is African Americans and the Arts.

February is Black History Month. This month-long observance in the US and Canada is a chance to celebrate Black achievement and provide a fresh reminder to take stock of where systemic racism persists and give visibility to the people and organizations creating change. Here's what to know about Black History Month and how to celebrate it this year:

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Black history month: key events in a decade of black lives matter, here are 4 ways businesses can celebrate black history month, how did black history month begin.

Black History Month's first iteration was Negro History Week, created in February 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, known as the "father of Black history." This historian helped establish the field of African American studies and his organization, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History , aimed to encourage " people of all ethnic and social backgrounds to discuss the Black experience ".

“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” ― Carter G. Woodson

His organization was later renamed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and is currently the oldest historical society established for the promotion of African American history.

Why is Black History Month in February?

February was chosen by Woodson for the week-long observance as it coincides with the birthdates of both former US President Abraham Lincoln and social reformer Frederick Douglass. Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery. Woodson also understood that members of the Black community already celebrated the births of Douglass and Lincoln and sought to build on existing traditions. "He was asking the public to extend their study of Black history, not to create a new tradition", as the ASALH explained on its website.

How did Black History Month become a national month of celebration?

By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the civil-rights movement and a growing awareness of Black identity, Negro History Week was celebrated by mayors in cities across the country. Eventually, the event evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History month. In his speech, President Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.

Since his administration, every American president has recognized Black History Month and its mission. But it wasn't until Congress passed "National Black History Month" into law in 1986 that many in the country began to observe it formally. The law aimed to make all Americans "aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity".

Why is Black History Month celebrated?

Initially, Black History Month was a way of teaching students and young people about Black and African-Americans' contributions. Such stories had been largely forgotten and were a neglected part of the national narrative.

Now, it's seen as a celebration of those who've impacted not just the country but the world with their activism and achievements. In the US, the month-long spotlight during February is an opportunity for people to engage with Black histories, go beyond discussions of racism and slavery, and highlight Black leaders and accomplishments.

What is this year's Black History Month theme?

Every year, a theme is chosen by the ASALH, the group originally founded by Woodson. This year's theme, African Americans and the Arts .

"In the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression, the African American influence has been paramount," the website says.

Is Black History Month celebrated anywhere else?

In Canada, they celebrate it in February. In countries like the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Ireland, they celebrate it in October. In Canada, African-Canadian parliament member Jean Augustine motioned for Black History Month in 1995 to bring awareness to Black Canadians' work.

When the UK started celebrating Black History Month in 1987, it focused on Black American history. Over time there has been more attention on Black British history. Now it is dedicated to honouring African people's contributions to the country. Its UK mission statement is: "Dig deeper, look closer, think bigger".

Why is Black History Month important?

For many modern Black millennials, the month-long celebration for Black History Month offers an opportunity to reimagine what possibilities lie ahead. But for many, the forces that drove Woodson nearly a century ago are more relevant than ever. As Lonnie G. Bunch III, Director of the Smithsonian Institution said at the opening of the Washington D.C.'s National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016: “There is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history. And there is no higher cause than honouring our struggle and ancestors by remembering".

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Racism Sample Essay, with Outline

Published by gudwriter on January 4, 2021 January 4, 2021

Racism in the past and racism today -This is another interesting topic on racism. It offers some interesting insights into how racism was perceived and manifested in various social spheres during the 19th century and how it is different today. You can explore how racism is changing its face. (3 pages)

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Racism Essay Outline

Introduction

Thesis: Racism always has and is still one of the most prevalent social problems affecting the American population and other European countries. It is essential to evaluate how racism has transformed since the 19th century to modern-day forms.

Paragraph 1:

Racism was openly accepted in the 19th century.

  • The whites were superior to the people of color.
  • People of color were slaves to the whites.
  • Slave trade was a legal business.

Paragraph 2:

Modern day racism is hidden but very prevalent in the society.

  • Laws were put in place to end slavery and stop racial discrimination, but no efforts have been made to implement them.
  • American laws favor the whites.

Paragraph 3:

In the 19th century, people of no color had no rights.

  • They were the property of white merchants.
  • They were highly mistreated.
  • They had no freedom of movement.

White people had the right to kill people of color.

Paragraph 4:

Today, there are laws aimed at giving people of color fair treatment, but these laws are ways of justifying the end of racial discrimination.

  • The American criminal justice system treats the whites more reasonably than the people of color.

Paragraph 5:

In the 19th century, people of color had no rights to own property.

  • Today people of color have the right to own property but only in areas free of the white population.
  • People of own color property in areas with low value, while whites own property in valuable areas.

Paragraph 6:

Brutality on people of color was acceptable in the 19th century, but there laws prohibiting the practice today.

  • The police have continued to subject people of color to brutal treatment without facing the wrath of the law.
  • Police brutality is an act of modern racism.

Paragraph 7: 

Even though there are laws protecting the rights of people of color to equal employment and treatment at the workplace, such laws are hardly applied.

  • There still exists workplace discrimination, especially in the United States.
  • Workplace discrimination can take many forms and can take place in various settings.
  • A restate of the thesis statement
  • A summary of the main points
  • A take-away  statement made based on presented facts or information 

Read an essay on Rhetorical Analysis of “Civil Disobedience,” by Henry D. Thoreau .

Racism Essay –  Racism in the Past and Racism Today

Racism has always been and still is one of the most prevalent social problems in the United States and across Europe. It is a social vice that has powerful roots in society, and its elimination has almost proven impossible. Many believe that the world society has worked towards ending this vice, but there is still evidence of racial discrimination in interactions between whites and people of color. The reason that pushes people into believing that racism has ended is that it has changed over the years and taken new forms. It is thus essential to evaluate how racism has transformed since the 19th century to modern-day forms.

In the 19th century, racism was open and acceptable in the American society. During this time, the whites were treated as superiors to people of color (Jahoda, 2009). People of color were a source of labor and servants to the whites. The acceptable name for people of color in the 19th century was slaves (Jahoda, 2009). Slave trade was a multimillion-dollar business that was practiced freely in most parts of the world in the 19th century (Jahoda, 2009). Even people of color themselves knew that they were treated as being inferior to the whites. They could however not oppose this treatment as governments were in support of the situation. As such, racism was an ordinary and acceptable practice during the 19th century.

However, today racism is hidden but very prevalent in the society. After civil rights movements rose in the 19th and 20th centuries and pushed for the emancipation of people of color from slavery, governments acted and ended the practice. Laws were put in place to end it. Policies were made to ensure that people of color had equal rights as whites (Brown, 2004). However, fewer efforts if any have been made to ensure that indeed people of color enjoy the same rights as the whites. The American law still favors whites over people of color (Brown, 2004). In the past, racism was an open practice. However, today it is hidden, and one has to look deep inside social interactions to spot racial discrimination.

In the 19th century, people of color had no rights as they were considered as property of their masters. They were exposed to inhumane treatment such as being beaten overworked (Mosse, 1995). They were not allowed to own property and had no freedom to do as they pleased. During these years, the lives of people of color were dependent on the choices of their owners (Mosse, 1995). Whites had the right to kill people of color who went against their rules. People of color were aware of what would happen to them if they acted against the command of their masters.

In the modern day world, people of color have rights that warrant them equal treatment as whites, but these laws are just a way to justify the end of racial discrimination. In the past, no laws prohibited racial discrimination, and therefore people of color had no issues with the treatment they received from whites (Brown, 2004). However today, with such laws in place, people of color would expect fair treatment, but this has not happened since the 19th century. The American criminal justice system evidences this unfortunate reality. People of color are still treated more harshly by the law than their white counterparts (Brown, 2004). In case a white and black person commits murder, they will be given different sentences with the white person getting a fair one.

In the 19th century, people of color had no rights to own property as they were regarded as property of whites. However, when slavery came to an end, they were given the right to own property. However, these laws allowing for property ownership by people of color did not bring an end to racial discrimination in property ownership (Jahoda, 2009). Whites could not allow people of color to own property in areas where they (whites) resided. History shows that whites cautioned real estate dealers from allowing people of color to own homes in such areas (Jahoda, 2009). The value of land or property owned by people of color would fall, while that of property owned by whites would rise. Today, there are residential areas owned by whites only and people of color can never be allowed to own property in such areas.

Brutality on people of color was a common practice in the 19th century. However, laws were later put in place to stop such treatment (Mosse, 1995). In spite of this, brutality on people of color has continued to spread not just among ordinary white persons but also through the police force. Today, African-American men die as a result of police brutality than from attacks by average white persons, the now famous May 2020 George Floyd’s case being a good example. The American justice system exonerates all-white officers suspected of killing innocent black men (Bonilla, Dietrich & Hall, 2008). Most African-American men live in fear of the police, who are supposed to protect them than they fear white supremacists. Police brutality is one of the most common forms of modern racism.

In yet another reality, even though there are laws protecting the rights of people of color to equal employment and treatment at the workplace, such laws are hardly applied. There still exists workplace discrimination, especially in the United States. Workplace discrimination can take many forms and can take place in various settings, including office buildings in city centers as well as offices in rural villages. Both men and women can suffer from workplace discrimination based on their sex, political opinions, religion, social origin, national extraction, skin color, or race. Noteworthy, discrimination at work denies people opportunities and prevents society from benefitting from what these people could do. In this respect, elimination of workplace discrimination contributes to a better working environment.

Racism continues to be a social threat to people of color in the United States and European countries. Laws put in place to protect these people from racial discrimination are hardly implemented. The police and the justice system are the number one perpetrators of racial discrimination. The only difference between racism in the 19th century and modern-day racism is in the way that it manifests itself.

Bonilla, E., Dietrich, D. R., & Hall, R. E. (2008). Racism in the 21st Century R .

Brown, D. A. (2004). Fighting racism in the twenty-first century.  Wash. & Lee L. Rev. ,  61 , 1485.

Jahoda, G. (2009). Intra‐European racism in nineteenth‐century anthropology.  History and Anthropology ,  20 (1), 37-56.

Mosse, G. L. (1995). Racism and nationalism.  Nations and Nationalism ,  1 (2), 163-173.

Explore a list of the trendy to the most interesting human resources topics .

Racism in the Workplace Essay Outline

Thesis: Racism in the workplace occurs in the form of direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, victimization, intersectional discrimination, and multicultural discrimination.

Direct discrimination is when a person is treated less favorably as a result of their race, their perceived race, or the race of another person they are related to.

  • Discriminating against someone because of their perceived race is known as discrimination by perception.
  • Discriminating against someone because they are related to another person of a given race is known as discrimination by association.

Indirect racial discrimination is when a working rule, policy, or procedure affects everyone yet disadvantages one group or person owing to their race.

  • It may be less visible than direct discrimination.
  • It applies to any workplace policy, practice, or procedure.
  • Examples are dress code standards and work arrangements.

Racial harassment is when a person encounters offensive behavior based on race.

  • Racist language is the most typical instance of racial harassment in the workplace.
  • It generates an unpleasant, intimidating, demeaning, humiliating, or insulting environment.
  • A person is also considered harassed if they witness a racial harassment incident aimed at someone else.

Victimization occurs when someone receives unfavorable treatment because of their involvement in a discrimination complaint.

  • A person might suffer victimization because they complained of racial prejudice.
  • The vice may also happen to someone gathering data in anticipation of filing a complaint.
  • They could also be victimized because they backed up another person’s complaint.

Intersectional discrimination is discrimination against a person’s personal traits or identity.

  • Examples of the traits include gender, sex, color, class, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and physical appearance.
  • Working Black women have fewer opportunities to meet with senior executives, receive less sponsorship and mentorship, and have fewer training opportunities.
  • Only 4 percent of U.S. C-suite female executives are women of color, and only 1 percent are Black women.

Multiracial persons may encounter microaggressions and/or discrimination related to their ethnic and racial mix.

  • Microaggressions are unintentional, implicit social behaviors or utterances that offend and prejudice others.

Take a look at this informational  death penalty essay .

Racism in the Workplace Essay

Discrimination is the denial of equitable treatment to people based on group membership. Racial discrimination, or racism, is a system of oppression and dominance with a long history that divides and organizes society in a manner that structurally disadvantages particular minority groups based on their assigned race or ethnicity. It is critical to distinguish between racism and other types of discrimination and prejudice that do not stem from the mistreatment of ethnic or racial minority groups. Even though the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII illegalizes workplace discrimination based on national origin, religion, sex, color, and race, racial discrimination still plagues the workplace. Racism in the workplace occurs in the form of direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, victimization, intersectional discrimination, and multicultural discrimination.

Direct discrimination is when a person is disadvantaged and given less favorable treatment as a result of their race, their perceived race, or the race of another person they are related to. Discriminating against someone because of their perceived race is known as discrimination by perception (Triana et al., 2015). For instance, a racist customer may be served by a Korean-born employee after which the customer may mistake the employee for a Chinese. The customer may, unfortunately, later complain to the leadership organization not to be served by a Chinese again. This constitutes a serious case of discrimination by perception. It is because of the customer’s skewed perception that they racially discriminate against the otherwise innocent employee. Discriminating against someone because they are related to another person of a given race is known as discrimination by association (Triana et al., 2015). This other person could be a colleague, friend, or family member of the racism victim.

Indirect racial discrimination is when a working rule, policy, or procedure affects everyone yet disadvantages one group or person owing to their race. ‘Everyone’ could refer to all employees in an organization or any other set of employees, such as all employees in a specific job or team. Indirect discrimination may be less visible than direct, and may not be intentional in some instances. It applies to any workplace policy, practice, or procedure, whether documented or not. Examples may include dress code standards, work arrangements such as working remotely, the criteria used in hiring, terms, and conditions, and how employees are chosen for layoffs (Colella & King, 2017). A practical example of indirect discrimination is when a cleaning company lists “good written English skills” as one of its criteria for layoffs despite the job not requiring writing. Here, people would get unfairly laid off for lacking English writing skills despite impressive job performance.

Racial harassment is when a person encounters offensive behavior based on race. Racist language is the most typical instance of racial harassment in the workplace. For an act to qualify as harassment, it must have either generated an unpleasant, intimidating, demeaning, humiliating, or insulting environment for the person or violated their dignity (Conley, 2016). A behavior can be considered harassment if it yields one of these outcomes even if that was not the intention. It is also harassment if it never resulted in one of these outcomes but it was intended to (Conley, 2016). The legislation against harassment also applies in situations whereby an individual is harassed because they are perceived to belong to a race they do not belong to. In the same breath, a person is considered harassed if they witness a racial harassment incident aimed at someone else, but ends up harassing them as well.

Victimization occurs when someone receives unfavorable treatment because of their involvement in a discrimination complaint. The legislation also shields a person from victimization when another person believes they are connected to a complaint. A person might suffer victimization because they complained of racial prejudice or they are gathering data in anticipation of filing a complaint. They could also be victimized because they backed up another person’s complaint, made a statement, or provided proof that refuted another person’s complaint, or someone else believes that they have carried out or are considering any of the aforementioned actions (Colella & King, 2017). Being labeled a troublemaker, being excluded, or not being permitted to do certain things are examples of how someone could be victimized. Practically, victimization could involve an employee receiving warning emails from their boss to stop supporting another employee’s racial discrimination complaints. That employee would be muzzled into withdrawing his choice to speak against racial discrimination at their place of work.

Intersectional discrimination is discrimination against a person’s personal traits or identity. Examples of the distinguishing factors here may include gender, sex, color, class, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and physical appearance. For instance, research reveals that working Black women have fewer opportunities to meet with senior executives, receive less sponsorship and mentorship, and have fewer training opportunities (Bagalini, 2020). Compared to their white counterparts, these all lead to fewer opportunities for them to advance their careers. Because of this, while only 21 percent of C-suite executives in the United States are female, only 4 percent are women of color, and only 1 percent are Black women (Bagalini, 2020). This example has two implications. One, the world of work still does not give equal leadership opportunities to men and women. Two, of the few leadership opportunities accorded to women, over 95 percent are occupied by white women, leaving women of color and Black women at a significant disadvantage.

Multiracial persons may encounter microaggressions and/or discrimination related to their ethnic and racial mix. Often, microaggressions are unintentional, implicit social behaviors or utterances that offend and prejudice others. Compared to direct verbal discrimination, they are less explicit (Greig, 2015). Microaggressions are not easy to identify and when they happen, the victim is often chided as being overly sensitive or touchy. That is, microaggressions are often considered “harmless” by those involved when in reality, they cause as much harm as other forms of racial discrimination. Multiracial microaggressions can take many different forms, such as invalidating one’s race, excluding and isolating them, objectifying them, assuming that multiracial persons are monoracial, denying the existence of the multiracial phenomenon, and pathologizing multiracial identity (Greig, 2015).

Workplace racism may occur in many different ways, including directly, indirectly, in the form of harassment, and through victimization. It could also be intersectional or multicultural. Direct discrimination is when someone is explicitly denied equal privileges as others due to their race. Indirect discrimination is when someone is disadvantaged by organizational policy or rule. Harassment is when someone is racially offended or abused based on his race. A person could also be victimized for speaking up against cases of discrimination. On its part, intersectional discrimination is when a person’s attributes are used to prejudice him. In multicultural discrimination, a person may be racially discriminated against due to being of a mixed race. Whatever the form, workplace discrimination is harmful both to victims and organizational success. It should thus be adequately addressed.    

Bagalini, A. (2020, July 22). 5 ways intersectionality affects diversity and inclusion at work . World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/07/diversity-inclusion-equality-intersectionality/

Colella, A., & King, E. (2017). The Oxford Handbook of workplace discrimination . Oxford University Press.

Conley, H. (2016). Gower Handbook of discrimination at work . Taylor & Francis.

Greig, A. (2015). Understanding the stressors and types of discrimination that can affect multiracial individuals: Things to address and avoid in psychotherapy practice. Psychotherapy Bulletin, 50 (2), 56-60.

Triana, M. Jayasinghe, M., & Pieper, J. R. (2015). Perceived workplace racial discrimination and its correlates: A meta-analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior , 36 (4), 491-513.

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  1. Racism explained in 9 seconds

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    19. 20. dilemma (Myrdal, 1944, it needs justification. According to We llman (1993) of inequality is an ascribed inequality, and its justification constitutes the heart of racist. thinking - a ...

  22. Black History Month: What is it and why do we need it?

    Black History Month is an opportunity to understand Black histories, going beyond stories of racism and slavery to spotlight Black achievement. This year's theme is African Americans and the Arts. February is Black History Month. This month-long observance in the US and Canada is a chance to celebrate Black achievement and provide a fresh ...

  23. Racism Sample Essay, with Outline

    Example 1 Racism Essay Outline Introduction Thesis: Racism always has and is still one of the most prevalent social problems affecting the American population and other European countries. It is essential to evaluate how racism has transformed since the 19th century to modern-day forms. Body Paragraph 1:

  24. Racism Essay .pdf

    Racism Racism has been going on for a long time and today there is still issues that involve acts of racism, like group Racism has been a issue that most people overlook today and racism is still a problem in today's generation due to the negative stereotypes, the psychological mind that leads to racism, and how blacks and whites and other group...