Racism is a system of racial prejudice plus power. Racism as a system refers to the ways in which a society’s laws and institutions privilege one racial group over another. For this reason, racism occurs when a group with more privilege or power in society discriminates against a group with less privilege or power.

Xenophobia is prejudice against people from different countries, cultures, or religions. Islamophobia, or hatred of Muslims and Islam, is a form of xenophobia. Anti-immigrant sentiment is another form.

It is everyone’s job in society, not just those who are being discriminated against, to speak out against racism and xenophobia.

Washington D.C. Protest against racism, 2017 (Image by Stephen Melkisethian via  Flickr )

Washington D.C. Protest against racism, 2017 (Image by Stephen Melkisethian via Flickr)

Teaching Materials

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A preview of the When They See Us discussion guide is available here.


Primary Source Documents

Signing of the convention (via  UN Photo )

Signing of the convention (via UN Photo)

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination defines racial discrimination as different (negative) treatment towards a person or group as a result of their national or ethnic origin. This discrimination restricts the human rights of the person/group. Learn more >

Additional Resources

25 Mini-Films for Exploring Race, Bias and Identity With Students
Curated by The New York Times, this list contains short films ranging from 1 to 7 minutes long, all dealing with race and bias. It also includes tips for talking about race in the classroom.

Charlottesville Syllabus: Readings on the History of Hate in America
Created with educators in mind, this list contains essays and articles dealing with racism in the United States. Topics include: institutional racism, immigration, and racism again indigenous populations.

Defining Racism Beyond its Dictionary Meaning: A System of Power, Privilege, and Oppression
Sociologist Nicki Lisa Cole, PhD, examines the seven types of racism and the ways that they are manifested in society.

A Guide to Responding to Microaggressions
Microaggressions are subtle insults toward a person of an oppressed or marginalized group. Microaggressions are often racial in nature, but can also be used to insult women, people in the LGBTQ+ community, individuals with disabilities, and others.

Southern Poverty Law Center
The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry in the United States through advocacy, litigation, and education. Their website has many reports and resources on racism and extremism in the U.S.

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
Information from the United Nations and its current projects related to racism and racial discrimination.

Why Does Privilege Make People So Angry?
A short video by MTV’s Decoded that explains privilege and some common misconceptions surrounding the term.