Racial discrimination laws are regulations that prevent people from being treated unfairly because of their race. These laws may pertain to utilizing public transportation, financing, or access to public resources. Such laws are commonly needed in societies where racism has been identified as a problem. While protection may be extended to members of the racial majority, it is most often minorities who benefit the most from this type of regulation.
Racial discrimination laws tend to be based on the ideas that all people are created equal and should be treated equally. The prevalence of racism, however, highlighted a need for anti-discrimination laws, which act as mandates requiring that people be treated fairly. It is commonly held that racial discrimination is not only problematic for the individuals that directly experience it, but that society in general can suffer when racism is allowed to thrive in a public manner.
To prevent the suffering of individuals, racial groups, and societies, racial discrimination laws now exist as part of the legislative codes in many countries. Prior to the existence of these regulations, minorities were commonly treated unfairly when doing things such as seeking employment, trying to obtain housing, and enrolling in schools. It has been necessary to not only implement racial discrimination laws that allow people access to items such as public funds or decent jobs, but it has also been necessary to have laws that dictate how people are treated in relationships that have already been established. For example, a person may be hired but without racial discrimination laws to protect him, he may be unfairly passed over for promotions.
In most instances, minorities receive the greatest benefit from racial discrimination laws. This does not mean, however, that members of a racial majority are less entitled to protection. If, for example, a prominent African-American corporation refuses to hire an individual solely because he is white, the aggrieved individual may be able to seek justice just as an African-American could if he had been subjected to such discrimination. The specifics of racial discrimination law and who it applies to can vary from one country to another.
Racial discrimination law may exist at various levels of government. In the United States (US), there are federal discrimination laws. Additionally, such laws tend to exist at the state level and often at local levels as well. Although the intention of these laws is generally good, they may sometimes have limited effects, since they do not actually change peoples' thoughts but rather criminalize certain acts. For justice to be administered for these crimes, there must be proof and proving that a decision was based on racial prejudice is often difficult.