Simple Definition of racism
: poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race
: the belief that some races of people are better than others
Examples of racism in a sentence
The recording career of the Henderson band was brief … due partly to the racism of booking agencies that didn't take on black acts until the mid-'30s, when Henderson's career was on the downswing. —Greg Tate, Vibe, April 1995
Today, Hawaii has one of the most diverse populations anywhere. Each group has its own stories of prejudice and opportunities limited by racism. —Jill Center, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 Mar. 1995
the racism that was the basis of apartheid
<Hitler's declaration of his belief in a “master race” was an indication of the inherent racism of the Nazi movement.>
The History and Dictionary Meaning of racism
Racism appears to be a word of recent origin, with no citations currently known that would suggest the word was in use prior to the early 20th century. But the fact that the word is fairly new does not prove that the concept of racism did not exist in the distant past. Things may have words to describe them before they exist (spaceship, for instance, has been in use since the 19th century, well before the rocket-fired vessels were invented), and things may exist for a considerable time before they are given names (t-shirt does not appear in print until the 20th century, although the article of clothing existed prior to 1900).
Dictionaries are often treated as the final arbiter in arguments over a word’s meaning, but they are not always well suited for settling disputes. The lexicographer’s role is to explain how words are (or have been) actually used, not how some may feel that they should be used, and they say nothing about the intrinsic nature of the thing named by a word, much less the significance it may have for individuals. When discussing concepts like racism, therefore, it is prudent to recognize that quoting from a dictionary is unlikely to either mollify or persuade the person with whom one is arguing.
First Known Use of racism
RACISM Defined for Kids
Definition of racism for Students
1 : belief that certain races of people are by birth and nature superior to others
2 : discrimination or hatred based on race
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up racism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).