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Differences between racism and stereotypes

 I think people confuse racism with stereotype.

rac·ism

noun

  1. prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

“We don’t hire Asians because we need diversity in our company. We already have too many Asians.” is a racist policy. It’s discriminatory.

Meanwhile, a statement “All Asians play piano and are good at math” is not racist, it’s a stereotype. There’s no discrimination there. This is a racial stereotype about asian people, and stereotypes do come from truth, that’s how things become a stereotype in the first place.

The problem with stereotypes is that you are making a generalization about a broad group of people that might not apply to everyone. While that might be truth to a large portion of Asians it’s not true for all of them, of course. This is why stereotypes bother some people (although I personally do conform to a stereotype because that’s who I am).

So before we call someone racist, let’s be clear on what is racist and what is a stereotype.

Btw, the same thing applies for sexism and misogynist. These words get thrown around so much these days people forget what they mean.

“Misogynist” means you are a person who hates women. So something like “Playboys are misogynists because they sleep with a lot of women” is totally false. Playboys actually love women, they don’t hate them.

Sexism means you are discriminating someone based on sex. So “We don’t hire women because we think men are better at programming ” is a sexist policy.

Whereas, “women are better at taking care of children and cooking” is a gender stereotype, not sexist.