individual racism | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Policing

Individual racism is racism stemming from a person’s attitudes and beliefs about other races.

Individual racism refers to the personal beliefs and attitudes held by an individual that lead them to discriminate against people of a different race. This can manifest itself in many ways, from using racial slurs to intentionally excluding individuals from social activities or job opportunities. It can also include holding negative stereotypes or prejudices against a particular race.

Individual racism is often considered to be the most visible and obvious form of racism, as it involves the actions and beliefs of a single person. However, it is important to recognize that individual racism can have significant consequences for the individuals and communities affected by it.

Individual racism can be overt or covert. Overt racism is the most visible form of individual racism and includes blatant acts of discrimination or prejudice, such as using racial slurs or making derogatory comments about a particular race. Covert racism, on the other hand, is more subtle and includes actions or attitudes that may not appear to be discriminatory at first glance but still contribute to racial inequality.

A range of factors, including upbringing, personal experiences, and cultural values often influence it. For example, individuals who grow up in racially homogenous communities may be more likely to hold negative attitudes toward people of different races. Similarly, individuals who have experienced discrimination or prejudice may be more likely to hold negative attitudes towards people of the race that discriminated against them.

It is important to note that this type of racism does not occur in a vacuum and is often supported by larger systems and structures that perpetuate racial inequality. For example, individual racism may be reinforced by laws and policies that disproportionately impact certain racial groups, such as racial profiling or the school-to-prison pipeline.

Addressing individual racism requires a multi-faceted approach that includes education, dialogue, and action. This can include initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion, as well as policies and programs that address the root causes of racial inequality. It is also important to recognize and challenge individual instances of racism when they occur, whether they are overt or covert.

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Last Modified: 04/08/2023


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