Racism prevails in society when individuals believe one race is superior to another by virtue of economic advantages or specific achievements they have made. The subordinate group experiences a tremendous amount of prejudice in many cases simply due to a lower economic standing in society. The presumed superiority or inferiority of members of a society is often used to justify the imbalanced distribution of wealth, power and prestige throughout the world. In addition, groups at the top of the social hierarchy believe they can justify the unequal distribution of societal rewards as a result of the innate differences among these groups.

Racism and prejudice are thought to be most prevalent in societies where physical differences are most pronounced. This can be exhibited by the differences among citizens, such as between individuals with black or white skin color. Racism commonly refers to races of people, but it can also involve different ethnic groups around the world. For example, racism affects Jews or French Canadians as much as African Americans. These racist stereotypes pertaining to people of different races and ethic backgrounds and an unequal distribution of power in context of social hierarchy creates a society where racism flourishes.

Lawsuit filed due to racism in the workplace:

One prime example showing the importance of conducting diversity training in an organization originated from the blatant charges of racism at Texaco. In 1994, six black employees of Texaco filed a lawsuit contending racism. Workers believed they were discriminated against in regard to promotions and pay increases, simply as a result of their race. Negotiations to settle the Texaco discrimination lawsuit stalled, until a startling new piece of evidence emerged in the form of a recording incriminating Texaco executives. This recording was made in 1994 at a meeting with top executives of Texaco where they discussed the pending litigation regarding black employees. In this meeting executives used racial epithets against African Americans and discussed whether or not to destroy key documents related to the court case. During this recorded meeting, executives at Texaco blatantly referred to the African American plaintiff’s in the case as ‘black jelly beans’. Uproar from civil rights leaders regarding the racism prevalent in the company eventually led to Texaco settling the case out of court. The decision by Texaco officials to finally settle the case stemmed directly from the recording and threats by civil rights leaders to organize a boycott against all Texaco products.

How to stop racism in the workplace:

  • HR personnel should examine hiring practices to ensure equality for all employees.
  • Supervisors should immediately discipline up to and including termination for employees who email or communicate racist jokes or insults.
  • Encourage dialogue among all employees regarding racism and the harmful affects it can have on other employees.
  • Develop a clear discrimination policy to ensure racism is not a part of your organization.

How to stop racism in schools:

  • Immediately object and discipline student who communicate racist jokes and insults. Discipline and educate students on the harmful effects racism has on individuals.
  • Invite guest speakers to talk to your students regarding racism.
  • Show videos and movies depicting the harmful affects racism can have on individuals in society.
  • Develop lessons throughout the year to examine prejudice and stereotypes that can be harmful to individuals.
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