Racism is a way of looking at and judging people based solely on their outer appearance, particularly skin color or ethnicity. Throughout history, racists believe the group they belong to is superior to other groups of people. Racism leads to unfair treatment and sometimes violence. At the very least, racism builds walls between people. While many forms of racism are identifiable, some are not.
Listen for language that portrays people as different. While name calling may be racist, so is the use of any nicknames or labels based on appearance. Jokes about race or ethnicity are another example of racist language.
Recognize that stereotypes, whether positive or negative, are racist. When you believe a group of people is lazy or dishonest, you hold a racist belief. Yet so is the belief that one group is more athletic or smarter.
Watch for bullying when victims appear or act differently based on their culture. For example, bullies may target people who wear certain clothing based on their religion. Recognize that violence and even intimidation are extreme results of racism. Understand that separating people due to race is segregation. The posting of "whites only" signs in U.S. and South African history are the most obvious example of segregation. Today’s segregation continues in a less obvious ways in some private clubs and golf courses.
Know that limiting educational, job or housing opportunities is an illegal form of racism called discrimination. Discrimination cases continue to be tried in the court system.
Be aware that stopping someone to question them based on their outward appearance is called racial profiling. This is most evident when law enforcement individuals stop someone in their car or at a security checkpoint because of his skin color or ethnicity. Racial profiling is another form of racism. Realize that a belief of superiority is a form of racism that can lead to enslavement or the death of large groups of people. Slavery in the United States is one example. These beliefs sometimes result in genocide, the systematic extermination of a group of people. Nazi Germany encouraged genocide against people who were Jewish. More recently, genocide has also been discovered in some African countries.