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Racism And Ethnocentrism – What You Need To Know


Racism And Ethnocentrism

 Racism is predilection and discrimination based on race. It is simply the oppression and unfair treatment of people belonging to a certain race.

The term racism comes from the word race; race refers to people who have the same physical and cultural similarities.

Racial groups were mostly developed to categorize and rank human beings. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s culture or ethnicity is better than other cultures. Ethnocentric people tend to feel their culture is the correct way of life.

While there are plenty of differences between the two, the major one includes;

Racism mostly evolved in the 18th and 19th centuries to justify slavery and oppression of non-white people. In contrast, Ethnocentrism evolved due to believing one’s culture is better and is the correct way of life.     

There Are Major Differences Between Racism And Ethnocentrism, Such As;

  • There are many forms of racism, such as systematic racism, indirect and direct racism. All these forms of racism bring about discrimination, genocide and elicit racial hatred.

On the other hand, Ethnocentrism is brought about by a failure to understand different cultures and does not necessarily bring about racial hatred or genocide.

  • Racial discrimination is strongly linked to the color of skin and mostly affects people of color. The whites are greatly advantaged and enjoy privileges that people of color cannot enjoy.

Ethnocentrism does not bring about privileges or various advantages just because you belong to a particular culture.

  • While ethnocentrism affects individuals belonging to different cultures regardless of their racial group. (The individuals can be all whites or non-whites, but they have different cultures).

Racism affects racial groups. People can belong to the same race but have different ethnicities.

  • Racism is mostly used as a defensive mechanism by troubled people who blame the minority for their losses. Some racial groups tend to blame the minority for their disadvantages and bad brakes.

Ethnocentrism, however, is not used as a defensive mechanism but for reasons based on heritage.

  • Racism brings about loss of confidence and pride in one’s culture, thus forcing people to segregate or assimilate. In contrast, ethnocentrism brings about a sense of pride and confidence in one’s culture.
  • Racial discrimination is heightened by individuals who see society as hierarchical and need to be on top of the hierarchy. On the other hand, ethnocentrism is not heightened by society hierarchy, but rather one’s a strong belief in his or her heritage.
  • Ethnocentrism tends to connect people in a society bringing about a shared sense of community pride, enhancing unity and peace. On the other hand, racism brings conflict and prejudice, leading to loss of self-worth.
  • Ethnocentrism is also known as cultural ignorance meaning the individual is aware of his or her intentions. While with racism, the individual might not be aware of his intentions; this is known as indirect racism.
  • Ethnocentrism structure is mainly made up of cultural and ethnic traits, while racism structure is made up of biological traits.
  • Racism appears in the form of different forms, such as systematic racism. This is instructional racism, indirect or casual this is unintentional racism, and direct this is intentional racism, while Ethnocentrism doesn’t take any forms.
  • Ethnocentrism tends to major on people’s culture and ethnicity, while racism majors mostly on race, that is, the physical characteristics. Physical characteristics can be skin color, hair type, among others.
  • Racism is deemed a reaction that racism occurs when certain racial groups feel threatened by another racial group.

This can be as a result of jobs where the majority feels they are losing their jobs due to an increase in the minority who are taking their jobs. Ethnocentrism is deemed as a sense of pride in cultural heritage.

  • Inherited genes mainly bring about racism and biological factors, while ethnocentrism does not focus on the biological side but the cultural factors. Meaning racism is determined by skin color, hair among other inherited characteristics.
  • Racism is deeply rooted in society, and the negative impact is greatly reflected in the various institutions compared to ethnocentrism.

It is clearly seen in some institutions that the top is made up of a particular racial group, and this is also visible in politics whereby most of the politicians belong to a particular racial group. Most of these people belong to the same race but different ethnicities.

Some Of The Similarities Include;

  • Racism and ethnocentrism bring about division among people. Ethnocentric people avoid socializing with other people from different cultures, while racism leads to racial segregation whereby the minority groups isolate themselves.
  • Both racism and ethnocentrism culture attitudes of superiority. Some individuals consider their culture and heritage or even their race superior. Ethnocentrism is also visible in some of the countries; some countries deem themselves superior to other countries.
  • Racism and ethnocentrism bring about frustration. A perfect example is where the majority racial groups regard the minority as a threat or reason for their losses.

Ethnocentric people may also get frustrated once they interact with other cultures due to culture shock.

  • Racism and ethnocentrism limit cooperation among individuals. Due to pride, most individuals find it difficult to cooperate with different ethnic or racial groups.
  • Racism and ethnocentrism can lead to one feeling less of a human. Some of the individuals belonging to the minority groups tend to feel l unappreciated or even unwanted.
  • Both racism and ethnocentrism bring about conflicts. This is due to division and racial hatred among the different groups.
  • Racism and ethnocentrism lead to stereotyping. Racism occurs due to a false belief about a certain racial group, while ethnocentrism tends to bring about false beliefs about different cultures.
  • Both racism and ethnocentrism encourage bias. Ethnocentrism encourages cultural biases like language bias, ethical concepts of a particular culture. In comparison, racism encourages racial biases such as discrimination and racial prejudice.
  • Both racism and ethnocentrism can be revealed through people’s attitudes. It does not necessarily entail violence.
  • Both racism and ethnocentrism revolve around power. The different racial groups tend to fight for power. This aspect is also seen among ethnocentric people.

The majority tend to be on top of the societal hierarchy while the minority is at the bottom. Ethnocentric people try to make other ethnic groups follow their culture as they deem it powerful and best.

  • Perception affects how we see and understand things. Perception contributes to racism and brings about ethnocentrism. The majority perceive themselves as superior and good hence discarding diversity and other people’s points of view.
  • Both racism and ethnocentrism bring about misunderstandings; this is due to a lack of knowledge and failure to want to understand different cultures or races.

Ethnocentric people find other people’s cultures bad and fail to understand their practices, while racists fail to learn about other racial groups and their ways, thus bringing about misunderstandings.

Modern Day Examples Of Racism And Ethnocentrism

Racism might take different modern forms, for example:

1. Systematic racism

This is whereby various institutions, including schools, hotels, hospitals, and courts, favor the white people leaving out the people of color.

A perfect example is where various institutions employ white people, giving them the top jobs regardless of their minimum qualifications. In contrast, people of color who have higher qualifications are given lower jobs.

Some sanitation also reserve places only for white people, excluding people of color. History taught in schools tends to give more attributes to a particular racial group leaving out the rest of the racial group’s attributes.

2. Indirect racism

Indirect racism is unintentional; that is, the person conveying a racist message is not aware that the message is racial.

For example;

  • A person cracking jokes about one’s background or even asking uncomfortable questions about one’s background bearing in mind the person wasn’t raised there.
  • Avoiding sitting near a black person due to the person’s skin color.
  • A person making fun of another’s skin color.

3. Direct racism

This is intentional, and the person conveying the racist message is fully aware that the message is racial and could hurt the other person’s feelings.


  • A person blogging negative blogs about a particular ethnic group
  • A person speaks offensively to another person about his or her race.
  • Where a person posts negative comments online regarding a particular ethnic group.


Racism and ethnocentrism may be deeply rooted in the 21st century, but we can always try to do better so as to stop this vicious cycle.

This can be achieved by learning and understanding the different racial and ethnic groups. This enables us to understand their different points of view.

Holding diversity meetings may also come in handy and promote unity; a people united can never be defeated.

We should stand up for each other embrace our differences, cultures, and races. Laws will not solve this problem; it is up to us to be humane and support the minority groups so as to create a better tomorrow.

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