Rank-ordering and discrimination have been features of many societies throughout much of human history. However the concept of race based in differences of inherited characteristics like skin color only emerged in recent centuries.¹
The concept of race has been used to justify the most appalling policies of discrimination and murder. Science has shown, however, that there is no evidence to support the existence of biologically different human races. There is much more genetic variation within each so-called racial group than there is between them.²
Racism is manifest in the tendency to stereotype and marginalize whole segments of populations who are perceived as inferior, or, in some cases, a threat. Racism can take many expressions, including open hatred, indifference, or lack of care. As a result of racism, people are denied opportunities for full participation and advancement in many facets of society. Racial division may be hidden, yet still embedded in institutional
life in ethnocentric, class, colonial or xenophobic systems. In many places around the world, racism still denies people access to income, health care, justice, housing, education, employment, human rights and human security.
For many people, decades of racist structures and prejudices have created inter-generational effects and disadvantages. This can be so entrenched in institutions and culture that people can unwittingly perpetuate racial division.
While blatant expressions of racial prejudice are often easily recognized, there are more subtle forms that are recognized only with effort. Addressing racism requires initiatives related to laws, systems, organizational structures and a genuine change in the mind and behavior of individuals.