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Race and Racism

Defining Racism

In the wake of the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s, racism has come to be seen as having three dimensions. Prejudice refers to unfounded and usually negative beliefs and attitudes about racially defined groups and individuals: stereotypes, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and the like. Discrimination directs attention toward preferential or detrimental actions taken toward racially defined groups and individuals because of their race. Finally institutional (or structural) racism refers to the endemic character of racial injustice and inequality. As a social structure racism is understood to be a product of the systematic allocation of resources, privileges, and rights differentially by race: it is distributed across the whole range of social institutions both historically and in the present, and it does not require intention or agency to be perpetuated.

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