Racism and Oppression

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Oppression is a broad term which encompasses thoughts and feelings of prejudice and discrimination to a certain group or groups of people. This may sound startling but even in advanced countries such as America; the crude form of oppression still exists to this day. Oppression comes in various forms. The resulting effect of oppression, however, all leads to inequality of treatment and loss of opportunities for some groups of people.

Prejudice refers to a negative attitude towards a certain group or groups formed without previous knowledge or reason. Prejudice is a major component of oppression.  Discrimination, on the other hand, is the act of making personal distinctions in treating a specific group. Discrimination is often manifested in excluding or denying opportunities or fair treatment to the targeted group.  Oppression is often apparent in cases of prejudice and discrimination.

Racism is oppression experienced by a certain group due to race, skin color, ethnicity or physical traits limited to the group. America’s long struggle of oppression through racism is evident in its history of discriminating Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians and other minority groups.

Racism exists in three levels: personal or individual racism, institutional racism and cultural racism.  Personal racism pertains to a person’s prejudice on a certain group because of race or skin color. Institutional racism refers to policies of institutions such as school, businesses and other establishments that could limit opportunities of certain groups due to race or skin color. Institutional racism is oftentimes unintentional. Cultural racism pertains to standards or cultures that contribute disadvantages to a certain race or skin color.

Practices of racism can be as explicit as intimidation, graffiti or physical violence. It could also be done implicitly such as ethnic slurs or in the form of tasteless humor. Methods of hiring, apartment rentals, educational or company policies could sometimes inadvertently contribute to racism too.  Either way, racism contributes to unfair treatment and loss of certain opportunities to the target race or group.

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