Definition Essay on Racism

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Racism has become one of the most important issues around the world in the past few decades and still affects millions of people. This issue brings division among different cultures and also affects those who are already going through economic stress or other issues, thereby placing people in possible life-threatening situations. This ongoing problem of racism has been reported in various forms and affects individuals whether they are adults or children. All across Europe, this issue causes the denial of various ethnicities and religions.

To begin with, the United Nations defines racism as “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” (“International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination”). Knowing the true definition not only helps people understand what racism is, but also understand what is being affected such as the freedom of a person and also the social structure of society can change where one society would consider themselves superior to the other.

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The fact that racism is a global issue, it can be related to different countries and continents around the world. One example would be the United States of America which has seen many reported cases of violence and harassment under the racism category. With that, it can allow us to not look at racism any differently as they all end up the same way. A statement by the French MEP states, “ It is absurd to consider that racism is an exclusively American scourge. It gangrenes all over the world and in Europe in particular,” French MEP and co-chair of the European Parliament Anti-Racism”. Considering the statement made by the French MEP, knowing the statistical perspective of the two continents does not necessarily reflect one worse than the other but reflects the suffering that is caused by this poison. And to learn the harmful effects this poison holds on us humans (Beyond the US: Police Brutality, Structural Racism Are a Problem in Europe Too).

Racial discrimination studies regarding different races such as Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latino Americans found an increase in poor mental and physical health among adults. For example, according to Paradies, African Americans have an increased stress associated with racism which can cause an increase in high blood pressure (Racism as a Determinant of Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis).

Furthermore, various studies have been done on whether racism has any correlation with causes of death or new health problems such as heart disease, kidney problems, or even diabetes. According to these reports, racism is in fact one of the causes of death. As stated by various authors that have combined the health issues based on racism, “Racial disparities in health in the U.S. are large and pervasive. For most of the 15 leading causes of death including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, liver cirrhosis, and homicide, African Americans (or blacks) have higher death rates than whites (Kung). Other data indicate that almost 100,000 black persons die prematurely each year who would not die if there were no racial disparities in health” (Black-White Inequalities in Mortality and Life Expectancy).

In addition, a survey done by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has summarised the overall use of violence and harassment that has occurred due to racism has been on the rise in many parts of Europe where some countries such as the United Kingdom had a 21% reported cases of racism among them 3% included physical violence or assault from police officers. In addition, one of the countries with the highest amount of harassment and violence was Finland with a total of 63% of harassment and 14% of physical violence which was towards black people (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Pg 2).

With the survey done by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, it is clear that racism is not located in one specific country but around almost every continent Europe is an example of where countries in Europe are showing an increase in harassment and physical violence due to a person's race or religion.

Moving on to another form of racism that has sparked chaos among different countries and people, which is Islamaphobia or anti-Muslim protest. As a result, it has become another issue in the racism category which is mainly targeting the religion of Islam because of unfortunate events that have occurred around the world such as the attack on the World Trade Center. Furthermore, in Europe for example Islamophobia has reached its peak and the reason for its increasing hate comes down to various possibilities which have been stated by the Open Society Foundation.

“In recent years, Islamophobia has been fueled by public anxiety over immigration and the integration of Muslim minorities into majority cultures in Europe. These tensions have been exacerbated in the aftermath of the economic crash of 2007 and the rise of populist nationalist politicians. They have also been aggravated by high-profile terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim extremists” (Islamophobia in Europe)

In addition, not only has Islamaphobia increased in Europe, but also discrimination among African descent who have come to Europe for a better life or to find work. Given the increase in African descent population of approximately 15 million people which makes them one of the largest communities in Europe, the African community faces various types of discrimination such as violence, bias, school bullying, refusal of health care, and or bias among health care staff (Introduction, ENAR).

Consequently, the effects of racism are detrimental whether it is physical violence or harassment due to a person's race or religion. For example, in Europe there have been many reports of racism among black people of African descent, and also of Islamophobia which has brought a lot of violence whether it is hate speech or physical violence. It also comes at a cost of lives as many people unfortunately die or suffer from illnesses caused by racism. Whether it's adults or children all of them get affected in different ways which can become a lifelong problem or it may even cause death.

Furthermore, racism can affect children and their well-being in many ways. A study has shown that children who are constantly in a state of stress can remain in that state and cause deterioration of brain development. It can also have lifelong effects such as difficulty learning and poor mental and physical health (Racism and Child Health).

In addition, racism not only affects one person but can affect the whole family. One of the forty articles based on children's health has reported that as children grow up in a household where the members of the family are affected by racism can bring up poor parental psychological function and decrease the parenting behavior with their child. Another study that was done showed how food insecurity, poor financial stability, and lack of child healthcare can affect children. But, when racism enters this listing it makes the situation worse as now the family needs to deal with more things than usual putting pressure on the family. (Racial discrimination as a moderator of the links among stress, maternal psychological functioning, and family relationships, Modifiable risk and protective factors for depressive symptoms in low income African American mothers)

When summing every cause up, it can be clearly said that we humans are facing a public health epidemic that has been on the rise affecting more people, not just black people or only affecting one religion. As stated by Mills, “We are living in a racism pandemic, which is taking a heavy psychological toll on our African American citizens. The health consequences are dire. Racism is associated with a host of psychological consequences, including depression, anxiety, and other serious, sometimes debilitating conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders. Moreover, the stress caused by racism can contribute to the development of cardiovascular and other physical diseases. The impact of these repeated horrific incidents is inflicting trauma on the broader African-American community. Research shows, for example, that compared with whites, blacks feel more negative stereotype threats and more racial profiling when interacting with the police”(We Are Living in a Racism Pandemic).

Given the situation of racism, it has spread worldwide and views of racism can have a different meaning from person to person. With that, the practice of fighting racism should be done in a manner that is common across the world where all the steps taken are similar to not confusion. The first way is to call out all forms of prejudice and hate speech. As stated by Furguson, “There has been a disturbing increase in hate speech among Americans and Europeans in recent years, often blaming immigrant and minority groups for the difficulties of their own countries. If you overhear someone telling a racist joke, speak up and let them know stereotyping isn't harmless. Let your children know they should feel free to do the same”(5 Ways to Fight Racism and Xenophobia).

Another way described by Gachet was that “All strategies in this respect should at least comprise measures in the areas of legislation, awareness-raising, education, positive action and participation. While legislation alone is not enough to combat racism and racial discrimination, the law is obviously a cornerstone. In Europe, the greatest advances in recent years have been made in the legal sphere. Many Member States have embarked on reforms to supplement their anti-discrimination legislation at a national level”(Combating Racism and Racial Discrimination in Europe).

To conclude, racism has truly become an epidemic that has started to take a heavy toll on anyone's health who has been affected by racism whether it is adults or children from different races and ethnicities. Knowing that racism can affect everyone, it can become an interdependent problem where even if the adults are targeted the children are also affected. Overall, any denial of race or religion can be clearly stated as racism and if this continues, it can start costing the lives of innocent people only because of the way they look or what they believe in. For that, all people of different races or ethnicities must unite in a way where they can respect one another and also respect different religions.

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Definition Essay on Racism. (2024, January 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
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