Racial Discrimination Overview

Racial Discrimination is defined by the United Nations as:

 “… the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

The definition was released by the United Nations in its Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The United Nations does not define the term racism. Racial discrimination can occur at any time and to anyone by another person or corporation. There are two major forms of racial discrimination; institutional and economic.

  • Institutional racism: institutional racism is defined as racial discrimination by governments, corporations, educational institutions, or other large organizations with the power to influence the lives of many individuals.
  • Economic racism: economic racism is defined as historical economic or social disparity that affects current generations through deficits in formal education and through primarily unconscious racist attitudes and actions on members of the general public.

Racial discrimination has occurred repeatedly throughout the history of mankind and it has happened all over the world. Racial discrimination occurred in the United States during the Civil War and most notably during the decade of the 1960s when race riots were occurring all over the Southern part of the country. During the decade of the 1960s the Ku Klux Klan became more prominent and more dangerous. World War II also saw a ton of racial discrimination when Adolf Hitler and Nazism took over Germany. Hitler wanted the perfect race, called the Aryan Nation, and tried to force his beliefs and the beliefs of the Nazi Party on all of Europe during World War II. Almost every racial group in the world has faced some sort of racial discrimination throughout the history of the world.

Racial discrimination still occurs today and it occurs in the workplace, in schools, in the medical field and in a variety of other professions. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects Americans from employment discrimination on the bases of race and color, as well as national origin, sex, and religion. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides protections for Americans against certain racial discrimination acts:

  • Recruiting, Hiring and Advancement: All job requirements must be uniform and consistent when they are applied to people of all races and colors.
  • Harassment/Hostile Work Environment: Offensive conduct is prohibited by Title VII. The conduct prohibited is racial slurs, ethnic slurs, derogatory comments, and racial jokes.
  • Compensation and Other Employment Terms, Conditions, and Privileges: Title VII prohibits discrimination involving compensation of employees and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.  
  • Segregation and Classification of Employees: Employers are not legally allowed to assign employees to a specific group based on their race or color.
  • Retaliation: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits the retaliation of their co-workers or their employers because they oppose discrimination or because they participate in EEOC proceedings such as filing a charge, testifying, assisting or otherwise participating in an agency proceeding.
If you feel you have been discriminated against or have questions about discrimination, contact a lawyer who can help.
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