Racism and Its Effect on Society

Throughout world history, governments have violated and ignored the human and civil rights of their citizens. In some instances, they demonstrated this disregard through customs, etiquette, and racial caste systems that denied human dignity and respect. In most cases, in addition to these customs, segregation rules and laws were established.

Governments have also endorsed the extermination (ethnic cleansing) of entire classes or races of people. Racism is devastating to a country and its culture. Racism causes tremendous moral, cultural, and economic suffering to a country. When the seeds of hatred and ethnocentrism are planted and fostered in society, it negatively affects every area of life.


Jim Crow set the tone in America.

In a relevant example, white supremacy in America extends over centuries, and even the abolition of slavery could not end racism. Instead, it permeated throughout society in other ways in a racial caste system known as Jim Crow.

More than a set of laws, it was a way of life that kept people of color from exercising their rights as full citizens. Jim Crow sent a message that whites were superior to other races, particularly the black race, in all ways, including behavior, intelligence, morality, and social status. The laws were so pervasive that they regulated every aspect of life, including socialization, sexual relations, marriage, housing education, entertainment, use of public facilities, and voting rights.

Those that took a stand against white supremacy risked threats, intimidation, violence, and murder. Legalized racism from federal and state governments continued in the United States until the late 1960s. Yet, even in the 21st century, legislators continue to pass racially discriminatory laws as evidenced by the 200+ segregation cases the Department of Justice is currently pursuing.

"Segregationist policy taxes all citizens not only on a financial level but on a civil, mental, and emotional level with reduced property values, a strain on community relations, tension and violence, depression and anxiety, the desperation of being deprived of the most basic of needs, the threat of arrest and conviction, and the confusion of changing law in rapid succession. The cost of ignorance and abuse is way too high; and Americans simply cannot afford the bill anymore." (Lugo, 2014.)

When Racism is Allowed to Thrive

Racism does not allow for a collective contribution of its citizens, which is a critical component of a country’s development and success. If a class of people is not allowed to be educated, they cannot make important contributions to society in technological, economical, and medical arenas. The denial of quality education to certain groups of people only serves to obstruct the economic progress of a nation.

If a class of people is not allowed to participate culturally, we fail to understand and appreciate our differences and similarities. We become increasingly ethnocentric. We fail to develop socially, unable to get along with our fellow man. No matter how hard a society might try to separate classes or races, the bottom line is that, eventually, we will, at least on some occasions, share the same space. Therefore, it is imperative that we are accepting, not merely tolerant, of others. The connotation for tolerance is that one must acknowledge the other, whereas acceptance encourages complete participation and fellowship.

Racism destroys our morality. No matter what a person’s culture or religious belief, racism is based on hypocrisy. To illustrate this point, the Christians have a commandment, issued by Jesus, to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Most religions have similar philosophies governing their social morality. Yet, there is the hypocrisy in going out into the night to burn crosses or participating in hate crimes. Racism is powerful enough to undermine their Golden Rule and turn it upside down.

Many times we, as societies and individuals, think that racism will dissipate on its own; so, we ignore it, repeatedly. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., made a profound statement in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”:

"When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see the tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people, you will understand why we find it difficult to wait (for change)."

His message is so clear that racism is most damaging to the children in the society in which they live.

The pathology is dehumanization. The cure is humanism.

Share your opinion

What method is most effective in reducing racism and discrimination?

  • Multi-Cultural Education or Cross-Cultural Education
  • Multi-Disciplinary Education
  • Affirmative Action Programs without quotas
  • Policy and Legislation
  • Home upbringing
See results without voting

What the Future Holds

"The issues of slavery, segregation, and discrimination cannot be viewed within their own individual time capsules. To gain proper perspective, these issues must be viewed collectively as devastating to our culture and threatening to democracy." (Lugo, 2014.)

I do not claim to have the ultimate answer to or a cure for racism. Evidently, neither does the world around me since racism raises its ugly head more times than one can count and in more ways than one can imagine. Even one act is intolerable for us. One cannot regulate thought or feeling through legislation. Only certain actions can be regulated, like the assurance of voting rights, the dismantling of racist policies, and punishment for those who perpetuate violent attacks and commit civil rights violations.

It may be bold to say that sometimes legislation serves to hide racism. People will find a way to practice it. For example, an employer could still feasibly say one person is more qualified than another but could be, in reality, favoring one race over another. Laws cannot force people to allow their children to play with the children of a race they may feel is inferior. Laws cannot stop people from cursing and shouting racial slurs at one another.

It is my sincere hope that one day, little by little, humanity will learn from the many tragedies that have been perpetuated in the name of racism. The rise of multicultural education is a great way to start. We need to understand the psychological, historical, and individualistic dynamics of racism first and then encourage others to take a stand against it publicly.

It serves no purpose to claim to believe in something and not have the courage to practice it. It serves no purpose to limit anti-racism to one’s refusal to participate in racist acts because it shows a lack of responsibility and ownership in one’s community.

We must be bold and persistent. We must take a stand and make a commitment to ourselves, our children, and our society to oppose racism when we see it and to seek for ways to eliminate it. The human community cannot afford to lose one more member to the evils of racism.

Works Cited

Associated Press. "AP poll: U.S. majority have prejudice against blacks." USA Today. Oct. 27, 2012.

Becker, Kylen. "10 Charts Show How Racist America Really Is." Independent Journal Review.

George, Charles. Life Under the Jim Crow Laws. San Diego. Lucent. 2000.

Letter from Birmingham Jail. (n.d). The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

Lugo, Liza. How Do Hurricane Katrina's Winds Blow?: Racism in 21st Century New Orleans. ABC-CLIO. 2014.

© 2012 Liza Lugo JD

Comments 42 comments

HSchneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

Excellent Hub. Racism is a cancer on society. It limits the productivity of the oppressed group and robs them of their humanity. I believe it is slowly changing in this country as evidenced by our younger generations. We must continue to have dialogues about this subject individually and as a nation. This way we can develop empathy with others. That way racism will wither on the vine.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

JSChams, Thanks for referring me to your hub. Racism is not only about the State/Nation keeping one group under is also about individuals and how they relate to one another. And, of course, we know that racism occurs in many other countries around the world. I appreciate you taking the time to read & comment. Happy New Year to you.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

HSchneider, thank you for your thought provoking comment. "You've got it" in a nutshell. Happy New Year.

geminitrudy profile image

geminitrudy 4 years ago

Very nicely said. I think if people were forced to move and adapt to different cultures, as we do in the american military, they would become educated on a personal level and become more tolerant of differences in others.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

If you like this hub, read my related hub "Affirmative Action: Is it still necessary in the 21st Century?" at:

Nati C profile image

Nati C 4 years ago

I'd be very interested in your opinion on the subject of racism being taught to early in school. You can find my thoughts on my page.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Like any other subject, teaching on the subject of racism must be done at an appropriate age level. I think it's important to be done at the elementary school level. In teaching about American History it's important for children to the truth about how different groups of people have been treated in the past, what contributions they have made to America, and what the climate is like today. Posing questions to students that instill critical thinking is an invaluable skill. For example, "what do you think about how they were treated...why do you you think they were treated that are people treating them it better? Is it the same? Is it different? How is it different? How is it the same? I know many high school students that had no idea it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry until the Supreme Court decided in Loving v. Virginia (1970) that antimiscegination laws were unconstitutional. And....that was after I was born.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Nati C, Thanks for taking the time to read my hub and comment. I appreciate it.

feenix profile image

feenix 4 years ago

Hello, lawdoctorlee,

This is a useful, awesome, interesting and very informative article.

Unfortunately, racism and bigotry are aspects of human nature that will never cease to exist. However, it is very important for all of us who are concerned to keep right on speaking out against those conditions.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Feenix, thank you for taking the time to read my Hub and comment. I appreciate your encouraging words. You're right about continuing to speak out against such conditions as long as they continue to exist; and, if it should ever end in this world, to continue to speak out against it so it doesn't happen again - anywhere.

LHwritings profile image

LHwritings 4 years ago from Central Texas

The USA, with its historic legacy of slavery, is an intensely racist society, and this racism has been resurging openly with (1) the election of a black president and (2) the economic crash and rather hopeless economic outlook for the future. This causes people to look for scapegoats, and vulnerable racial and ethnic groups are prime targets.

The most vulnerable groups currently are (1) undocumented immigrants, particularly Latinos, and (2) Muslim Americans (citizens and others). However, racist attacks on other minorities — particularly blacks and Jews — are also on the rise. (I discuss some of this in my recent article on Islamophobia.)

Racist bigotry — especially aimed at blacks and Muslim Americans — is rampant on the Internet, and evident in a number of postings in HubPages. It's important to keep in mind your own warning: "We must take a stand and make a commitment to ourselves, our children, and our society to oppose racism when we see it and to seek for ways to eliminate it."

I voted your article Up and Interesting.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

LHwritings, thank you for taking the time to read my Hub and commenting. I love what you said. I will read your article on Islamophobia, sounds interesting! Thanks for the vote up! You might want to read my Hub "The Current Status of Black America." It addresses your comment here. Keep on Hubbing :-) This is a great way to write about the truth of racism and speak out against it.

kateperez profile image

kateperez 4 years ago from pasadena, tx

I have one question:

when the majority is treated in a negative and disparaging way by a minority, is that also racism?

What is your perceived definition of the term racism?

I'm truly interested in hearing your response.

Just to put it out there, to me, racism is anyone, of any color, of any "minority" or "majority" status in an area being treated in a negative manner by someone of another race.

We do know that not only "white people" perpetrate racism, right?

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

kateperez, thank you for taking the time to read this hub and for your comments. The definition of racism is a belief that there are inherent differences in human races, and usually that translates into one race believing they are superior to any other. (See Otherwise put, race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race (See Merriam-Webster online). So when a majority is treated in a negative and disparaging way by a minority, that is not necessarily racism. It could be for many other reasons (politics, for example). Of course we know that not only "white people" perpetrate racism - consider what has happened in Rwanda, Chad, Sudan. "White people" have not only perpetrated racism on "blacks" either. They have done so to each other - consider Hitler and the Nazi party, Milosovich in Bosnia and Serbia, the Spanish Inquisition....the list goes on. History is full of examples.

Joeythegrreat 4 years ago

Wow good hub!!! I am about to do a hub kinda similar to this, I am going to follow you and hopefully you could follow me and read mine one day.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Joeythegrreat, thank you for taking the time to read this hub and for your comments. Thanks for the following :-)

Sanxuary 3 years ago

In my lifetime I would say that racism has been unlearned most of the time. Growing in a small town no one had any idea how to act around different people. They were the opposite and would normally glorify people different then the social norm. That is what bored people do. Still they were clueless and discriminating in a way that was mostly because they had no idea. Things have changed some what but still they are the same. I left this area and became more Worldly but definitely had no idea how to act at first. My weaknesses at the time were not overt but I was the one outside group norms. Referring to such things as theirs was probably my biggest pit fall. Returning years later I changed and noticed the differences since. One guy talking to a minority was discussing assuming gangs were a minority problem but no one was informing him otherwise for example. There are plenty of examples excluding race where people are trapped in mind sets that make no sense. For example if you never drive on the poor side of town you never notice the poor. One of course assumes other things dependant on if you our rich or poor. Instead all people are still people trying to live with what they have. The economic crash has definitely changed a lot of these people for better, even if it is a tough lesson.

Braindoodle profile image

Braindoodle 3 years ago

Hi Lawdoctorlee,

Lately, I write about the same things. People become defensive at the mention of race. Many think it does not exist, or deny its existence, others think we are lazy.

Now I re-frame discrimination/racism/stereotypes as white privilege. That term does capture it all when you think about those without white privilege.

Nice post about a topic that needs to be discussed. -Angela

Sincerely 3 years ago

Racism really exists and it is really emotionally damaging on the part of the person that was discriminated. But the more sad part, is that, the racist person sees racism as just acceptable.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 3 years ago from New York, NY Author

Sincerely, thanks for taking the time to read this hub and for your comment on the issue. Hope you are enjoying Hub Pages.

Xav Ier 2 years ago

This really was a very informative article. It reminded me of when I lived in a neighborhood that had all kinds of races and ethnicities in it.

2 years ago

i totally agree with the guy before me i had a really gr8 experience with those kind of people but not a horrible 1

anonymous 2 years ago

hi, thanks for this post! it's really meaningful and well presented

Aniger47 2 years ago

The one and only goal of racism is to harm others unlike the racist. Racism kills many people, physically, emotionally, economically and mentally. In most states, the criteria for initiating an involuntary mental health examination is that the judgment of a person is so impaired that his/she is unable to understand his/her need for treatment and as a result of his mental state his continued behavior can reasonably be expected to result in harm to himself/herself or others. The definition of mental illness (according to Massachusetts) is a substantial disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation or memory which grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life. There are some members of the Republican/Tea Party that exhibit signs/symptoms of those similar to individuals having a mental health issues. Many of them are very much out of touch with reality and the difference between right and wrong when it comes to race relations. As civil servants, the agenda should always be to assist in running the country in the best interest of ALL the people, but because of this illness/disease, members of The House of Representatives are unable to perform as required in their presently held positions. Racism, is in fact, a mental health issue and society needs to recognize it as such. It has NOT been recognized up to this point as a mental health issue due to the fact that many affluent individuals share this illness. If we look to history we will find that many of the slave owners were wealthy men and became wealthier as a result of slave labor. These men passed down their wealth, along with their toxic racist thoughts and perceptions, from generation to generation. This also was the case with the overseers and hired field hands. America has never dealt with this health issue. It is one of the root causes of deterioration in America. Racism and discrimination must be dealt with. It is tearing down the very fibers of America. If the U.S. is to move forward in healthcare and keep its citizens healthy, we must eradicate racism. It is very toxic to all. There are some white Americans that feel that on racial issues, they can take the law into their own hands. Look at those demonstrating against the immigrant mothers and children. Did you see any other nationality protesting against them? Due to the allowance of racism in this country, some people that share this hatred, this illness, has continued to get sicker and sicker. Children are being killed by armed adults. Is this the America that we need or want? Is this the ideology that we want for our children? If so, it is sick. We should not tolerate it on any level! Whatever your race, wake up NOW! Racism is a sickness and it is killing all of us, not just physically, but also on a mental, emotional, moral and ethical level!

Sanxuary 2 years ago

I do not believe that you can fight racism. I believe that you have to fight policy. The news out of Ferguson is all about racism but you can not change a racist without policy. Its the policy of deadly force that needs to be changed and then you can determine if you have lousy cops or actual racist. Why would anyone shoot an unarmed person who is fleeing for his life? Where was the need for deadly force? This example has happened so many times and deadly force with no purpose has crossed plenty of barriers besides race. Poor people and those with criminal histories are more likely to be shot. Mental illness ends plenty of lives each year and it often continues once you our incarcerated. The local jails in my area have had more people die in custody then on the street.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 21 months ago from New England

Amazing hub ! I think we have to also accept and remind ourselves that racism was inherited TO America , as was also the whole idea of the abolitionist's movements . A lot of people will have us believe that racism is an American by-product , part of our GNP if you will . I love this hub and the dialog that is also soo necessary !

Those that believe America is behind the eight ball should count up and show us other nations that have "Affirmative Action " like we do here , that legislate financial aids based on the minorities , They might also show us how a country that is less than three hundred years old, in itself !, has advanced the levels of dialog about racism to almost eliminate it completely , fought an entire Civil War , and helped developed a media of such free speech as to keep that dialog alive , seemingly , forever .

I just love Morgan Freemans answer to the question

" Mr Freeman , what do you think we Americans should do about racism today ?"

His answer : " We've got to stop talking about it " . {I think he meant so much } .

Keep up the awesome hubs !......Ed

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 21 months ago from New York, NY Author

ahorseback (Ed), I am so appreciative of your support in reading my work and for your comments. Hopefully, the first paragraph of this hub emphasizes that racism is not an American phenomenon.

Unfortunately, this pathology (racism), I fear, is encoded into the DNA of humanity. The 20th Century demonstrates the extent of that pathology given that 140 million were killed in genocidal campaigns around the world (Europe, Asia, and America). Some of these campaigns were conducted by governments and some by terrorist organizations.

Morgan Freeman is one of my favorite actors of all time; still, I disagree with his quote. You cannot change what you refuse to acknowledge. That is true for any area of life. It's not how often we have the conversation about racism but the context in how to heal from it that should be addressed. No doubt we, as Americans, have made many great strides to overcoming the legacy by having the right kinds of conversations (i.e. the Civil Rights Movement and dismantling institutionalized segregation). But that was just the beginning.

Blessings to you & yours.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 21 months ago from New England

I am wondering as many do , just how much of the discussion today, in America in particular , is well founded , the hype that is , I can't help but think that many of the alarm calls to the very existence or not of racism are generated by a media too engrossed in sensationalizing lesser incidents of minority problems . An imbalance ,if you will ,of importance ? Any opinion my new friend ?

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 21 months ago from New York, NY Author


The media has a way of sensationalizing EVERY story it comes upon (foreign policy, elections, local news, crime, sports, entertainment news, etc.) and the issues related to American race relations is no different.

I don't know that there is a way to determine how much of the discussion is well-founded but I will say this: if we are discussing facts and truth about our history and our present and, if we are honestly seeking ways to remedy the situation, then all of it is well-founded.

sallybea profile image

sallybea 21 months ago from Norfolk

Having grown up during the Apartheid era in South Africa I found this and the opinions expressed here more than a little interesting. Racism is no longer just white against black. A new form of racism seems to be developing and one can't help wondering if the human race is capable of learning how to live in harmony.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 21 months ago from New York, NY Author

Sallybea, thank you for reading this hub and for your comment. Most certainly, racism is not "white against black." As I mention here, America's Jim Crow era and the aftermath is merely one example. More than 140 million people in the 20th Century have been killed in genocidal campaigns around the world: Europe, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and Kuwait are other forms of racism that are not "white against black." I would like to believe that the human race is starting to learn how to live in harmony. There have been significant strides in international human rights and civil liberties in constitutional democracies.

Wishing you much continued success in 2015. Blessings to you and yours.

Kiss andTales profile image

Kiss andTales 21 months ago

Thank you lawdocterlee for this subject hub! The words that racism is taught is really true, I believe it is taught in the first beginnings of where a child has learned his beginnings about life and people in the home first.

So sad that people can not see that we are all a mixed generation of people. We have some of every nation mixed in our blood here in the US,

And many other countries have similar situations. God Almighty knew we would be different shades like the different personalities we all have.

He knew that we would be in verities . But what we all have in common is the inner parts of a heart and soul,

When traggerties happen shades do not come in rescue the heart does it what matters . There will be no place for racism under God's New Goverments !


Reference Bible Re 7:9 After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands.

Reference Bible Mt 24:14 And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.

Nations of people will unite in peace in the time of the end ! This starts with each and every person to do our part.

Reference Bible Isa 2:4 And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.

This is happening now !

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 21 months ago from New York, NY Author

Kiss and Tales, thank you so much for taking time to read this hub and for sharing your views and comments. Indeed, what we all have in common is the heart and the soul, which is all that matters in my book. We all have value - men, women, adults, and children, Christian or not, red, yellow, brown, or white. We are human beings. All deserve respect and dignity.

I hope the new year brings you many blessings.

Kiss andTales profile image

Kiss andTales 21 months ago

Thank you lawdoctorlee looking forward to reading more of your hubs!

brian 21 months ago

I want to change my skin color to black. I think black skin makes you look stronger, is good for protection, gives you more flexibility on what you can and can not say. The commercials always show the black man stronger and cooler than the white man. I am surprised more white men don't want to be black skin in this era.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 21 months ago from New York, NY Author

Brian, thank you for taking the time to read this hub and for your comment. Be who you are because color does not matter. Color does not make one stronger or better. It is your inner core that will allow you to be flexible, your mind will guide you in what to say and learn, and it is your attitude that determines your coolness. Relish in the wonderfulness of yourself. May the new year bring you many blessings.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 21 months ago from New England

I still believe that the biggest influence that racism has had of recent , in our society is that of the effect of racism 150 to 300 years ago , slavery and it's influence's both positive or negative , on all our society and cultures , For the greatest part racism today is far more about the exploitation of historical slavery , in other words , How much mileage can I get out of using racism for MY cause . Whether that cause is to sell newspapers or to gain affirmative action causes for me or my people . The let's all "Cry wolf " syndrome has become the definition of racism today . And why ? because" it pays ", unfortunate but true . ....great discussion hub !

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 21 months ago from New York, NY Author

ahorseback, thanks for taking time out of your day to read my work and for commenting. Few would argue that slavery did not have a huge influence on racism in American society. Some might argue the reverse - that it is racism that permitted slavery. Whatever kind of enslavement exists, wherever that may be in the world (because it is still a human rights issue), it is rooted in the belief that the enslaved somehow deserves to be in that position because he or she is less than human.

Although slavery was officially abolished in America in the 19th Century, African-Americans were relegated to second-class citizenship well into the 20th Century via segregation policies, domestic terrorist attacks, and denial of voting rights. In 21st Century America, minorities are still discriminated by law in housing. The Department of Justice is currently working to dismantle these policies.

I will say this, there are instances where people "cry wolf", as you point out in your comment; however, there are also a myriad of scenarios where prejudice and discrimination are now more carefully hidden. Discrimination is difficult to prove if it is not blatant.

I hope that people will understand that affirmative action is not about skin color; in fact, skin color is not even mentioned in official affirmative action policies. Affirmative action is designed to include people who have been historically excluded in employment or educational programs. That can be based on ethnicity, gender, religion, or other factor. The purpose of affirmative action is to " review the qualifications of all applicants and employees to ensure qualified individuals are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner when hiring, promotion, transfer, and termination actions occur." The Department of Labor provides a sample of an affirmative action program at the following URL:

Glad you found "Racism and Its Effect on Society" as a "great discussion hub." Wishing you and yours many blessings.

2 weeks ago

nice article.

4.5 ratings out of 5

XYZ 2 weeks ago

nice and informative article!!!!!

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 23 hours ago from New York, NY Author

Thank you for taking the time to read this hub and rate it. Wishing you and yours many blessings.

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 23 hours ago from New York, NY Author

XYZ, thank you for taking the time to read this hub and for your positive feedback. Wishing you and yours many blessings.

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