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What is Racism?

Racial group

A group of people defined by race, colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. All racial groups are protected from unlawful racial discrimination.



Racism is used to describe a whole range of myths, ideas and attitudes that are used to justify placing a particular racial group(s) in an inferior position to another. A set of attitudes and behaviour towards another racial or ethnic group based on:


  • The belief that natural difference in physical characteristics (such as skin colour, hair type, face shape, etc.) corresponds directly to differences in personality and ability.

  • The social and economic power of members of one racial or ethnic group to enforce and enact such attitudes and behaviour towards others.


Indirect Discrimination



The application of a provision, criterion or practice that puts people of a particular race or ethnic or national origin at a particular disadvantage and cannot be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.


The concept of 'provision, criterion or practice' covers the full breadth of formal and informal practice. Practice may be defined as the customary ways in which an intention or policy is actually carried out. It includes attitudes and behaviour that could amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping. To find discrimination it will be sufficient to show that a practice is likely to affect the group in question adversely.


Religion or belief

Occurs if one person (A) applies a provision, criterion or practice, which s/he to other persons not of B's religion or belief, but which puts B at a disadvantage when compared with those others, and which cannot be shown to be proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.


Institutional racism

Institutional racism is concerned with racial discrimination which has been incorporated into structures, processes and procedures of organisations, either because of racial prejudice or because of a failure to take into account the particular needs of Black and minority ethnic people.



The definition of harassment introduced by the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 applies when the discrimination is on grounds of race or ethnic or national origins, but not colour or nationality. Harassment on grounds of colour or nationality amounts to less favourable treatment and may be unlawful direct discrimination.


A person harasses another on grounds of race or ethnic or national origins when he or she engages in unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of:


  • violating that other persons dignity; or
  • creating an intimidating or hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.



This has a special legal meaning under the Race Relations Act. It occurs if you are treated less favourably than others in the same circumstances because you have complained about racial discrimination, or supported someone else who has. A complaint of racial discrimination means that someone has:


  • brought proceedings under the Race Relations Act against the discriminator or anyone else
  • given evidence or information in connection with proceedings brought by another person under the Race Relations Act
  • done anything under the Race Relations Act or with reference to it
  • alleged that a person has acted in a way which would breach the Race Relations Act.


The complaint does not need to expressly claim discrimination when making the complaint.


Information accessed from - http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/


As Britain welcomes people of many different nationalities and ethnic origins, it is natural that people of different cultures will interact. The quality of life of some people in the community can be undermined if they are denied access to employment or services - such discrimination can be intentional or unintentional. Racial discrimination impacts on different communities in different ways.


Anti-Racist Magazines

Until 2003, CARF was Britain's only independent anti-racist magazine, documenting resistance against racism - from black and refugee organisations, monitoring groups, anti-deportation campaigns, football fans, and much more.


The CARF group now supports the work of the IRR news network and has transferred its publishing efforts to this outlet where, we hope, the news and analysis which made CARF magazine a success will continue to find an audience.


The CARF group is not aligned to any political party or tendency. It is composed of individuals from many walks of life: designers, lawyers, journalists, students, race relations workers all of whom share a commitment to fighting racism.


Access the magazine and more information at - http://www.carf.org.uk/


Other Anti-Racist magazines include: http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/


The Council for Racial Equality in Cornwall

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