What is Race Discrimination?

wiseGEEK Writer

Race discrimination is part of racism, and it can be said of racism that it uses race or ethnicity as criterion for judging inferiority or superiority of other people. Race discrimination may also be a legal term used to define ways in which people may or may not act. For instance the United Nations excludes “distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference” that can be based on “race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin.”

In Japan, there is racial discrimination against Koreans in large amount.
In Japan, there is racial discrimination against Koreans in large amount.

Other legal efforts created by countries may attempt to eliminate racism through civil rights laws. In the US, race should not be a point of consideration when hiring someone for a job, and it cannot be used to justify higher or lower pay, to segregate employees or to hold them to different standards. Like many civil rights laws, not only race but other things may be considered as non-discriminatory aspects of employment or treatment elsewhere. These could include gender, religious background, or sexual preference.

Race discrimination can start during teenage years.
Race discrimination can start during teenage years.

Statistics certainly bear out that racism may be routinely practiced in matters like hiring and pay amounts, and sometimes not even consciously. Certain studies have indicated that people may unconsciously express a marked preference for people of their own race and perceive them more positively, and clearly race discrimination can exist in overt forms too.

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Racial discrimination might occur among people of the same ethnicity.
Racial discrimination might occur among people of the same ethnicity.

It’s also quite clear that race discrimination does not merely apply to color. People can judge others based on shared religion, or ethnic background, and though in the US, white versus all other races racism might be most obvious, there is clear discrimination occurring between and among minority racial groups. In other countries where few minority groups exist, the problem may be even more striking. In Japan, for instance, racial discrimination against Koreans exists in large amount. This filters even to Japanese media, and the art forms known as anime and manga, where the villains in some of these pieces may have overt Korean features.

Unfortunately, when such race discrimination exists in large form, it is difficult for a culture to get rid of it, even when clear intention is to remove it. While media continues to depict other, and especially minority races, in an unfavorable way, the subliminal effect of this may be great. It can be the cause of unconscious racism because the cultural products of that society may constantly be at odds with legal attempts to change people’s thinking.

Race discrimination involves treating others differently on the basis of race.
Race discrimination involves treating others differently on the basis of race.

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Discussion Comments


Mutsy- John Stossel explained that this is what happens in college applications. Asian students because they are usually among the highest performing students that apply have to demonstrate even higher ability with respect to SAT scores.

Their black and Hispanic counterparts are actually given a lower qualifying score in order to get accepted.

Although the cupcake sale illustrated this point precisely, many people denounce the different prices for the cupcakes but they have no problems with the different discrimination law standards in college acceptance applications.

Discrimination is wrong regardless of which party is offended. Asian students should seek a race discrimination attorney because they should not be penalized because of their success.


I think that the quota forces the company to hire people based on race and not on ability.

The same is true of college admissions. Minorities with the exception of Asians are given preferential treatment instead of the white candidates.

In fact John Stossel, the Fox News contributor and former 20/20 anchor did a sociological experiment in a local mall.

He was selling some cupcakes and the price that was paid was based on your race. For example, if you were Asian you paid a premium of $1.50 on top of the standard price.

If you were black or Hispanic you would receive a discount of about $1.00. All of the people interviewed in the mall said that this pricing was wrong and that everyone should pay the same price. They felt that this violated the race discrimination laws.


Employment race discrimination is a serious offense that most companies will not tolerate.

Race discrimination in the workplace can take many forms. Employment race discrimination can also include off colored jokes that portray people of other races unfavorably.

Many companies have a zero tolerance towards workplace discrimination and may fire an employee on the spot that engages in such jokes.

Other companies might participate in employment race discrimination at work based on the representation that they have in their employee pool with respect to race.

Many companies have to fill out research data that determines how many minorities the company as a whole represents. The companies must reach a minimum percentage according to the EEOC race discrimination standards in order to avoid legal action.

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