Racism is the process by which systems and policies, actions and attitudes create inequitable opportunities and outcomes for people based on race. Racism is more than just prejudice in thought or action. It occurs when this prejudice – whether individual or institutional – is accompanied by the power to discriminate against, oppress or limit the rights of others.
Race and racism have been central to the organisation of Australian society since European colonisation began in 1788. As the First Peoples of Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have borne the brunt of European colonisation and have a unique experience of racism. The process of colonisation, and the beliefs that underpin it, continue to shape Australian society today.
Racism adapts and changes over time, and can impact different communities in different ways, with racism towards different groups intensifying in different historical moments. An example of this is the spike in racism towards Asian and Asian-Australian people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Racism includes all the laws, policies, ideologies and barriers that prevent people from experiencing justice, dignity, and equity because of their racial identity. It can come in the form of harassment, abuse or humiliation, violence or intimidating behaviour. However, racism also exists in systems and institutions that operate in ways that lead to inequity and injustice.
The Racism. It Stops With Me website contains a list of 'Key terms' that unpack some of the different ways that racism is expressed.
Read more: https://itstopswithme.humanrights.gov.au/commit-to-learning
What is racism? (PDF)
What is racism? (Word)