Racism and prejudice both very much exist in the US as they do around the world. I do not believe that it is as prevalent as it once was in the US. I believe we have made a lot of progress but we aren’t there yet. We will never completely eradicate racism or prejudice.
Meriam Webster defines racism as the following:
1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race 2a: a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles b: a political or social system founded on racism 3: racial prejudice or discrimination
Meriam Webster defines prejudice as the following:
Definition of prejudice
(Entry 1 of 2)1: injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights especially: detriment to one’s legal rights or claims 2a(1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b: an instance of such judgment or opinion c: an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics
Definition of prejudice (Entry 2 of 2)
transitive verb 1: to injure or damage by some judgment or action (as in a case of law) 2: to cause to have prejudice
Children are born with neither racism nor prejudice. They are taught and learned behaviors. As children grow they naturally compare themselves to each other. Who is taller, runs faster, smarter, popular, more attractive etc. My own son used to compare the color of his skin to other kids when he was little and in daycare. He is mixed race and fairly light skinned. Comparing ourselves to others is one of the ways we develop cultural norms and behaviors. We discover what is successful as far as actions and attitudes and what is not. We discover who others think is the most attractive or popular. Comparison is not a bad thing. It’s how we learn. It’s how we drive ourselves to be better. It’s how we compete in sports, school, and for employment. The results we learn are where we develop prejudices. We ALL have prejudices. We will never entirely rid ourselves of prejudice. People tend to gravitate towards people who are similar to themselves in some way. They build each other up through their similarities. If we aren’t careful, it’s easy to fall into the behavior of negativity and prejudice towards any other group. It’s not necessary to tear down another group or someone different from yourself in order to build up your group or yourself. When we fall into that trap, that’s where the harm exists. We are not all supposed to be the same. Differences are good.
Racism is learned. Small children do not care to what race another child belongs. Sometimes racism is learned from being taught that your own race (whichever one that is) is superior to any other race. Sometimes racism is learned from being treated poorly by members of another race or through negative experiences with another race. Racism is difficult to combat once it is learned. Racism causes prejudiced behavior. Members of any race can practice racism.