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Explain racism as a set of attitudes and racism as a system of power. How have race and racism inf

Explain racism as a set of attitudes and racism as a system of power. How have race and racism informed, affected, and influenced your life and your world view

Few of the references that you need to include

*Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. Racism without Racists: Colorblind Racism & Racial Inequality in Contemporary America. (Fifth Edition). Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. (RWR)

*Higginbotham, Elizabeth L. Race and Ethnicity in Society. (Fourth Edition), Wadsworth, 2015 (RES)



Race is a social phenomenon which is assigned to people of different groupings on the basis of similarities in their origin, background information, cultural heritage, physical characteristics and skin color. Racism is the trust in the superiority or inferiority of one race when compared to another. Racism thrives in systematically denying people opportunities on the basis of their race. Racism is also exhibited through feelings of resentment, spewing verbal and physical abuse towards other people simply because they do not belong to your race. The history of racism in the world is long and wide. Racism has been with us since time immemorial. Formation of colonies, unfavorable past trade practices such as slavery, gaining independence from colonizers, successive formation of governments and migration of people from one region to another have all been affected by racism (Paluzzi, 2016)

History of racism

In the United States, racism dates back to hundreds of years ago. In the 16th century racism was exhibited when a proclamation was made that only white people that had migrated to the United States of America had the eligibility to apply and be considered for citizenship of the United States. Without acquiring this citizenship, the people were denied certain fundamental rights. They could not participate in the voting. They were unable to acquire land and other properties. They had no responsibility of taking someone to court when they are aggrieved. They did not belong. They simply existed to serve their masters (Paluzzi, 2016)

In the late 16th century, a fallacy in terms of scientific discovery emerged in the Americas. Race was hence described on the basis of brain capacity. The high functioning people were the Europeans who belonged to the Caucasian race. These were the brainy ones. The second high functioning people were people of Asiatic origin. These people belonged to the mongoloid race. The people with the least brain capacity were the blacks who were racially assigned as Negroes. As we can see from the above descriptions racism ran deep in the past and people hated one another just because of their race. Of course the above descriptions have been proven to be wrong. It really doesn’t mean being white entitles you to a higher brain functioning and capacity compared to the black man. We have several Asia originated people who have performed well in different fields: social, scientific, economy and government (Paluzzi, 2016)

Unfair treatment was caused by a deeply embedded racism in the past. Negroes who were perceived to have committed crimes were never given time to defend themselves. They were hurriedly condemned and convicted of crimes. In most cases they were whipped and abused. Black people were not allowed to sit when they boarded public vehicles. Nevertheless this unfairness was not only widespread in the physical and emotional treatment. People of black descent earned significantly less amounts of cash compared to their counterparts from other races. They earned less despite the fact that they could have done better or worked better compared to the others (Loewen, 2014)Opportunities for career progression were not available to them. They served as laborers, and low cadre employees. It was unimaginable that a Negro could serve as a manager or worse still as a chief executive officer of a company. Even in the offices, blacks were supposed to act as servants to their white masters and nothing else was expected of them. If a black person tried to succeed and move out of this unfair racial position that he was put in by the whites, he was routinely pinned down. Superior qualifications of these people were overlooked on the basis of the color of their skin (Loewen, 2014)

Racism as a set of attitudes

Attitudes display feelings of people towards a particular subject. Racism as a set of attitudes is the feelings of people towards the subject of racism and towards people of other races. Racial attitudes develop in people over a period of time. People like this race or that race. People can be taught to have negative feelings towards other people (Zenefits, 2018) Children can be taught to hate other people who not look like them. Although some people argue that there are some attitudes which are in born, I believe that most attitudes are learned over time as children continue to grow. Nobody is born knowing that people who look different from them in terms of physical appearance is inferior. No white child is born knowing that a black person is bad and vice versa. What normally happens is they are taught by the people they live with. They also learn this through observation. Children from a young age are taught not to play with these or those kids because they are bad. Some white kids are taught not go near a black person (Maria, 2016)

Black kids are taught to keep off white police officers because they may get shot at the slightest provocation. These negative attitudes will become ingrained in the lives of these children and they will grow up hating other cultures and other communities because they do not look like them. Black children will suddenly adopt a self-defense mechanism towards security officers of American descent (Maria, 2016)

There have been several assumptions on the attitude by different people. It has been assumed simply that as time passes by, attitudes of Americans and other communities towards racisms have had a significant shift. However, there are complications in this than what meets the eye. It has not been easy to change these attitudes though. However, the latter parts of the nineteen century have seen a significant shift in the attitudes held by the white people towards racism. White people have continued the support of other races in many different ways. They want these races to have and experience a more superior life and a more equal life. Advocates have been proposing that there should be equality in the learning institutions, equality in the economic freedom and achievement and equality in the accessibility of the different job opportunities which are available to be done by all the people regardless of their social standing (Maria, 2016)

However in as much as there has been some attitude change in accessibility of different opportunities necessary for growth, a complete attitude shift has not been easy. Research through surveys has proven that it has not been easy for white people to truly accept blacks as equals. Long periods of being racially stereotyped have made it difficult for black people to believe that they are truly equal to the white people.

A wide held attitude is that racism is not racism if it is not being meted out against a black person. It has been assumed that white people do not suffer racism due to the widely held beliefs which support these notions. Racism is not any wrong thing being done to you by a person. Some people erroneously believe that if they are not comfortable with someone because of what they have said or because of what they have done then that is racism. People have an attitude of confusing racism with prejudices. If someone doesn’t like the way you have prepared a certain meal because he or she believes that white people or black people for that matter cannot prepare well cooked meals then simply put that is called prejudices and it cannot be assumed to be racist (Richards, 2019)

Attitudes towards racism need to change but not through a quick fix mechanism. They take time and they need to come from within. Nelson Mandela, the famous black anti-apartheid hero once said that, “No person is born hating another person. ‘People are taught to hate. If people are taught to hate then they can be taught to love for love comes naturally to the human heart than hate.”

Racism as a system of power

In terms of the concept of race and power of the people, the government has always had a role in the shaping the racial profiles of different people in the world. Governments in the past promoted racism because it was the most popular concept. A system of ruling which did not support racism was most likely voted out by the people in power. The struggle for determination of civil rights and certain fundamental liberties was premised on the principles of making sure that slavery, segregation and racism remained intact. (Sandra, 2013)

The people who were highly racist were popular and rich people. These people wielded a lot of power and political bargain. They influenced many decisions and made people to hate others. These people spread the idea that promoting equality among people of all races was going against the culture and traditions of the society. They made racism a way of live, a way of culture and a system of ruling. Governments did not have any other options rather than giving them their full support. Governments enacted rules which subjugated people of color to untold suffering. The then elites, who were white were also rich and funded the governments. These people also owned corporations and they were not compelled to put up any rules which favored the rights of the minority workers. Racists have used political power to silence the minorities from advocating for their rights. In some cases few black people were put in positions of power so that the general black population feels part of the government. However, electing these black people to positions of power did nothing to improve the living conditions of their people. Some were elected as mayors, governors and senators. Henceforth, these positions did not translate to higher opportunities and more improved access to jobs and education. Racism as a system of power was essential in the spread of knowledge.

Racists used their political power to spread a wrong doctrine that racism was good and was an essential part of ruling. They used public gatherings and speeches to spread the ideas that blacks did not deserve to participate in activities such as voting because they are not true Americans. They incited other people who would otherwise not been haters to start hating on other people. They used their power to silence the voice of the minority who were not in support of racism. Since they wielded too much political power, it was easy for them to commit atrocities against the colored people and go unpunished. It was easy for them to throw people in prison without following the rule of law or the due processes. Political racism ensured that the whole system was compromised from the way up to the bottom (Sandra, 2013)

Black people did not expect to find justice in the court system especially if the black person was the plaintiff and the white person was the defendant. Rulings in court will certainly go either way and he had nowhere to go and appeal. Since political power affected the distribution of resources, people who belonged to the race which was hated grew up and languished in poverty where they had nobody to assist them get the much needed resources to advance in their lives and also in their careers. As a result, resentment against the ruling government grew among the black community. They hated the treatment they were being given. They resented being seen as lesser people and lesser human beings. They did not like the fact that fundamental human rights acquisition was a favor being given to them which they did not deserve. As a result, black movements and protests emerged and calls for social and political emancipation grew. Learning about race and racism has really changed my view of the world concerning certain things. I am now able to understand that nobody is born into a particular race or a country. Nobody chose to be born black or white or vice-versa. We all found ourselves where we are because nature said so. I know that where a person is born does not really matter. What matters is their efforts (Sandra, 2013)


This essay has tackled several issues concerning racism. It has explained what the difference between race and racism is and the descriptions of racism from the prism of the attitudes that people have towards a particular race and the influence of power and prestige on the race. Proponents of racism give economic power, social freedom and political capital to the race they favor at the expense of the race they hate. If your race is loved, you will have an advantage to progress but if you belong to the ‘bad” race you will be at a disadvantage and you will not succeed. It has also revealed that racism has shaped the power and the history of power over the past two centuries. There is also evidence that racism can come to an end but we all have to change our attitudes towards racism. Governments and other leaders can actually do more to compact this problem of racism.


Loewen, (2014). Histories of the race construct

Retrieved from: on 8/5/2019

Maria, K, (2016). A portrait of African American and white racial attitudes

Retrieved from: Accessed on 8/5/2019

Paluzzi, (2016). Race VS racism

Retrieved from: on 8/5/2019

Richards, D, (2019). Can black people be racist?

Retrieved from: on 8/5/2019

Sandra, H, Richard, H, Nathaniel W, (2013). Race, Power and Policy.Dismatling Structural

Racism Retrieved from: on 8/5/2019

Zenefits,(2018). Are people born with a negative attitude or they acquire it?

Retrieved from:

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