a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
Also called in·sti·tu·tion·al rac·ism [in-sti-too-shuh-nl rey-siz-uhm, -tyoo-], /ˌɪn stɪˈtu ʃə nl ˈreɪ sɪz əm, -ˈtyu-/, struc·tur·al rac·ism [struhk-cher-uhl rey-siz-uhm], /ˈstrʌk tʃər əl ˈreɪ sɪz əm/, sys·tem·ic rac·ism [si-stem-ik rey-siz-uhm] /sɪˈstɛm ɪk ˈreɪ sɪz əm/ . a policy, system of government, etc., that is associated with or originated in such a doctrine, and that favors members of the dominant racial or ethnic group, or has a neutral effect on their life experiences, while discriminating against or harming members of other groups, ultimately serving to preserve the social status, economic advantage, or political power of the dominant group.
an individual action or behavior based upon or fostering such a doctrine; racial discrimination.
racial or ethnic prejudice or intolerance.
- rac·ist, noun, adjective
- an·ti·ra·cism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use racism in a sentence
He will embrace an overdue dialogue on race and enact new policies to address systemic racism.
This sleight of hand positions race as the problem, allowing companies to absolve themselves of responsibility for racism.What’s missing from corporate statements on racial injustice? The real cause of racism. | Amy Nordrum | September 5, 2020 | MIT Technology Review
There are reasons why I don’t keep England as my home anymore, and the main reason is racism.Tan France Goes Deep on Racism and When He Almost Quit ‘Queer Eye’ | Eugene Robinson | September 3, 2020 | Ozy
Structural racism influences voting in more direct ways as well.Levi Strauss CEO: We can’t solve racial inequality if gun violence and voter disenfranchisement persist | jakemeth | September 1, 2020 | Fortune
We haven’t taken a stand to get out the vote because of how it contributes to structural racism in this country.Levi Strauss’s Chip Bergh on why he’s taking his most direct stance yet against structural racism | Ellen McGirt | September 1, 2020 | Fortune
Cosby conspiracy theorists share a perspective born of a long, pained history of American racism.
One blames black Americans as a race; the other, racism as a social structure.
The rule of law, you see, buckles, bends and sometimes crumbles under the weight of racism, sexism, and classism.
They believe that these two people died because of a racism that permeates our society.
And it was such casual racism by people in the halls of power.Ava DuVernay on ‘Selma,’ the Racist Sony Emails, and Making Golden Globes History | Marlow Stern | December 15, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The rejection of black units could not always be ascribed to racism alone.
The Double V campaign against fascism abroad and racism at home achieved considerably less than the activists had hoped.
To achieve it they would have to fight the racism common in many segments of American society as well as bureaucratic inertia.
These men were probably blind to the racism implicit in their policies, a racism nurtured by military tradition.
Turning its back on the overt racism of some southern communities, the Army unwittingly exposed an example of racism in the west.
British Dictionary definitions for racism
the belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and that this endows some races with an intrinsic superiority over others
abusive or aggressive behaviour towards members of another race on the basis of such a belief
- racist or racialist, noun, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cultural definitions for racism
The belief that some races are inherently superior (physically, intellectually, or culturally) to others and therefore have a right to dominate them. In the United States, racism, particularly by whites against blacks, has created profound racial tension and conflict in virtually all aspects of American society. Until the breakthroughs achieved by the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, white domination over blacks was institutionalized and supported in all branches and levels of government, by denying blacks their civil rights and opportunities to participate in political, economic, and social communities.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.