A little glossary of race defintions and concepts

Definitions and concepts 


Racism
can be broadly defined as the types of behaviours, practices, beliefs and prejudices that

underlie avoidable and unfair inequalities across groups in society based on race, ethnicity, culture

or religion. Race-based discrimination is behaviours and practices that result in avoidable and

unfair inequalities across groups in society.2 This definition encompasses not only racial violence

or illegal forms of discrimination (‘direct’, or overt), but subtle forms of exclusion as well (‘indirect’,

or covert, hidden).

Racism can occur at three conceptual levels, which overlap in practice:

–  interpersonal racism – racist interactions between people

–  internalised racism – the incorporation of racist ideologies within the worldview of an

individual who experiences racism which may have an effect on how they regard and/or

behave toward themselves, members of their group and those from other groups

–  systemic or institutional racism – formal policies, practices, processes and conditions that

serve to increase power differentials between racial, ethnic, cultural or religious groups.3, 4

Racism can be direct (or overt) or indirect (covert or hidden).

Direct racism is based in differential treatment that results in an unequal distribution of power,

resources or opportunities across different groups, such as a refusal to hire people from a

particular ethnic group.

Indirect racism is equal treatment that impacts groups differently and therefore results in an

unequal distribution of power, resources or opportunities across different groups. An example of

indirect racism is a policy that requires all employees to have their head uncovered while working.

While the policy is the same for all employees, it adversely affects the opportunities of those who

wear head coverings for religious or traditional reasons.

Source: Glossary and definition derived from VICHEALTH: Building from our strengths, see page 7 and 8

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