Racial discrimination is treating people differently through a process of social division into categories not necessarily related to races. Racial segregation policies may officialize it, but it is also often exerted without being legalized. Researchers, including Dean Karlan and Marianne Bertrand, at the MIT and theUniversity of Chicago found in a 2003 study that there was widespread discrimination in the workplace against job applicants whose names were merely perceived as "sounding black". These applicants were 50% less likely than candidates perceived as having "white-sounding names" to receive callbacks for interviews. In contrast, institutions and courts have upheld discrimination against whites when it is done to promote a diverse work or educational environment, even when it was shown to be to the detriment of qualified applicants. The researchers view these results as strong evidence of unconscious biases rooted in the United States' long history of discrimination (i.e. Jim Crow laws, etc.)
Institutional racism (also known as structural racism, state racism or systemic racism) is racial discrimination by governments, corporations, religions, or educational institutions or other large organizations with the power to influence the lives of many individuals. Stokely Carmichaelis credited for coining the phrase institutional racism in the late 1960s. He defined the term as "the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin".
Maulana Karenga argued that racism constituted the destruction of culture, language, religion and human possibility, and that the effects of racism were "the morally monstrous destruction of human possibility involved redefining African humanity to the world, poisoning past, present and future relations with others who only know us through this stereotyping and thus damaging the truly human relations among peoples."
Historical economic or social disparity is alleged to be a form of discrimination which is caused by past racism and historical reasons, affecting the present generation through deficits in the formal education and kinds of preparation in the parents' generation, and, through primarily unconscious racist attitudes and actions on members of the general population. (e.g. A member of race Y, Mary, has her opportunities adversely affected (directly and/or indirectly) by the mistreatment of her ancestors of race Y.)
A hypothesis embraced by classical economists is that competition in a capitalist economy decreases the impact of discrimination. The thinking behind the hypothesis is that discrimination imposes a cost on the employer, and thus a profit-driven employer will avoid racist hiring policies.
Although this hypothesis may be accurate in some parts of the world in others it is the opposite. Although a capitalist economy would avoid discrimination in order to avoid extra cost, this can be avoided in other ways. A capitalist company for example may use racist hiring policies as it deviates towards the "cultural norm". These "norms" albeit unquestioned are evident within society. In a predominantly white society when hiring a person of colour into a position of management this may then cause disputes, and damage communications between other employers. Thus the company would be economically put in a deficit because of the discrimination of other companies, as they invoke discrimination and isolate that company. Although this may be a radical, over exaggerated point of view, it portrays how pervasive racism is and how company[who?] will some time deviate towards racist hiring policies in order to henceforth be not isolated, thus preventing the company from going into an economic deficit. (Burton 2009:1)
Declarations against racial discrimination
In 1950, UNESCO suggested in The Race Question —a statement signed by 21 scholars such as Ashley Montagu, Claude Lévi-Strauss,Gunnar Myrdal, Julian Huxley, etc. — to "drop the term race altogether and instead speak of ethnic groups". The statement condemnedscientific racism theories which had played a role in the Holocaust. It aimed both at debunking scientific racist theories, by popularizing modern knowledge concerning "the race question," and morally condemned racism as contrary to the philosophy of the Enlightenment and its assumption of equal rights for all. Along with Myrdal's An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944), The Race Question influenced the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court desegregation decision in "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka".
The United Nations uses the definition of racial discrimination laid out in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted in 1966:
...any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, 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.(Part 1 of Article 1 of the U.N. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination)
In 2001, the European Union explicitly banned racism along with many other forms of social discrimination in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the legal effect of which, if any, would necessarily be limited to Institutions of the European Union: "Article 21 of the charter prohibits discrimination on any ground such as race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, disability, age or sexual orientation and also discrimination on the grounds of nationality."