Racism

A multi-faceted phenomenon which isn’t going away

Racism today is a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon. The face of racism has evolved over the last decades and has taken many different forms.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,

“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.”

There is only one race, the human race.

“The scientific material available to us at present does not justify that inherited genetic differences are a major factor in producing the differences between the cultures and cultural achievements of different peoples or groups…  for all practical social purposes, ‘race’ is not so much a biological phenomenon as a social myth.  The myth of ‘race’ has created an enormous amount of human and social damage”

UNESCO statement, 1950, quoted in “White Man’s Country: Racism in British Politics”, Robert Miles and Annie Phizacklea, London, 1984

Racism occurs on a number of levels, including individual, cultural, institutional. From the Stephen Lawrence inquiry emerged much of the current thinking and understanding of institutional racism.  Institutional racism can be described as the network of institutional structures, policies and practices that create advantages and benefits for the majority ethnic group and discrimination, oppression and disadvantage for people from targeted racialised groups and minority ethnic groups.  The advantages created for the dominant group are often invisible to them.