Difference Between Racism and Discrimination

Psychologically speaking, the social relationships between human beings are strictly complicated and difficult to understand and explain. Since ancient times, human beings, almost equally, have had to endure different conflicts and rejections for being or thinking differently.

Therefore, these problems that have been manifesting within society respond to different names that have been attributed to them to differentiate one from the other. Such is the case of racism and discrimination, two terms that are closely related but refer to two different things. The purpose of this article is to show the most outstanding differences between these two words.


We can affirm that racism is considered a discriminating attitude. This is because racism considers other people who are not of the same race, as beings inferior to them. Generally, a person despises another for some singular characteristic that differs from what, from his point of view, he considers as a pattern -normal-.

Many times this pattern is associated with skin color. Therefore, it can be seen that racism intentionally seeks to diminish or abrogate the human rights of the person who is discriminated against for having a different skin color or also for being of a different race.


Discrimination is any attitude in which other human beings are belittled. These acts include but are not limited to exclusion, distinction and consideration as inferior or worthless beings. This may be due to differences in race, religion, nationality, gender, disability, among many other reasons.

In general, depending on the reason for which another is discriminated against, it will be called in a different way to refer to it, such is the case of xenophobia -when a foreigner is discriminated against-, machismo -when a foreigner is discriminated women for being considered inferior-, to name a few.

For all the aforementioned and in case there were any doubts, we can summarize the main differences between racism and discrimination in the following table:

Racism Discrimination
Racism is characterized by the rejection that one person has of another person who is of a different race. Discrimination is any act that has as its object the rejection or contempt of any person, due to a reason of almost any nature.
Racism was legalized in some countries such as the US, with laws that separated white people from people of color. Some acts that could be considered as -discriminatory- are still in force, given that even in some religions and countries women are limited to certain trades and therefore, they are limited in their work.
The racist considers that a person is inferior to himself because of race. Discrimination sees another person as inferior for one reason among many.
Frequently the racist rejects another because of her skin color. Among the most common acts of discrimination we have racism (race), xenophobia (foreigner), machismo (woman) and homophobia (rejection of homosexuals), among others.

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