WHAT IS RACISM?
ENAR Ireland understands RACISM as: Any action, practice, policy, law, speech, or incident which has the effect (whether intentional or not) of undermining anyone’s enjoyment of their human rights, based on their actual or perceived ethnic or national origin or background, where that background is that of a marginalised or historically subordinated group. Racism carries connotations of violence because the dehumanisation of ethnic groups has been historically enforced through violence.
In other words, racism is when an individual, group, structure or institution intentionally or unintentionally abuse their power to the detriment of people, because of their actual or perceived “racialised” background.
It’s important to understand that racism is an ideology from a colonial past which “holds one race superior, while another inferior” in the words Bob Marley in his song ‘War’.
The above understanding follows from international and civil society definitions:
- International law
The United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) defines racism as: ‘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.’[i]
- National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI, 2007)
Irish civil society organisations use the working definition drafted by the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) which defines racism as:‘A specific form of discrimination faced by minority ethnic groups based on the false belief that some ‘races’ are in essence superior to others because of different skin colour, nationality, ethnic or cultural background’.
[i]UN International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), (1969), Article 1