Race/Color Discrimination & Work Situations

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

Race/Color Discrimination & Harassment

It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person's race or color.

Harassment can include, for example, racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person's race or color, or the display of racially-offensive symbols.

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Racism is a closely held belief that differences among racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement. This usually involves the belief that a persons own race is superior to another, therefore giving that person a right to dominate individuals and/or groups of another race because they are seen as inferior. 

In addition, racism involves treating someone unfavorably because they are of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race such as hair texture, skin color, complexion, and certain facial features. Racism

can also involve treating someone unfavorably because the person is married to, or associated with, a person of a certain race or color. Racism can even occur between people of the same race or color.

Racism also exist in the form of a policy, system of government, etc., usually identified as systemic racism. Systemic racism also includes the policies and practices within established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups.

Other forms or manifestations of systemic racism may not be as readily obvious to some, usually those privileged by the system.



hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Types of racism

Individual racism 

refers to an individual's racist assumptions, beliefs or behaviours and is "a form of racial discrimination that stems from conscious and unconscious, personal prejudice" (Henry & Tator, 2006, p. 329). Individual Racism is connected to/learned from broader socio-economic histories and processes and is supported and reinforced by systemic racism. 

Because we live in such a culture of individualism (and with the privilege of freedom of speech), some people argue that their statements/ideas are not racist because they are just "personal opinion." Here, it is important to point out how individualism functions to erase hierarchies of power, and to connect unrecognized personal ideologies to larger racial or systemic ones. (That is, individualism can be used as a defensive reaction.) This is why it is crucial to understand systemic racism and how it operates.

Systemic racism

includes the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups. It differs from overt discrimination in that no individual intent is necessary. (Toronto Mayor's Committee on Community and Race Relations. Race Relations: Myths and Facts)

It manifests itself in two ways:

  1. institutional racism: racial discrimination that derives from individuals carrying out the dictates of others who are prejudiced or of a prejudiced society

  2. structural racism: inequalities rooted in the system-wide operation of a society that excludes substantial numbers of members of particular groups from significant participation in major social institutions. (Henry & Tator, 2006, p. 352)

Some forms of systemic racism may be more explicit or easier (for some) to identify than others: the Indian Residential School System in Canada; Jim Crow Laws in the US; the exclusion of African-American golfers from elite, private golf courses in the US; the way that "universal suffrage" did not include Indigenous North American women (nor did Indigenous men receive the vote until 1960, unless they gave up their status/identity as Indigenous).

Some Canadian examples of systemic racism include: the 1885 Head Tax, the 1923 Exclusion Act, the 1897 Female Refugee Act, passed in Ontario, which criminalized 'immoral' and 'incorrigible' acts conducted by women if they were found to be pregnant out of wedlock or drunk in public. 

Other forms or manifestations of systemic racism may not be as readily obvious to some, usually those privileged by the system.


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