Subtle Racism: What It Is and How Can Society Fight It?

by | Jan 24, 2024 | Racism | 0 comments

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Racism continues to be a pressing issue in modern society. While pursuits have been executed to decrease it, there remain instances of deceptive and subtle racism that need more recognition.

While humanity can be social, they can also be intolerant of each other – a paradox that ultimately captures people’s complexities. They’re part of an intricate, interconnected structure that relies heavily on cooperation. This imagery might contradict how the world has physically developed, from one massive island fragmented into separate lands. However, for the world to exist and thrive, people have recognized how crucial it is to help each other.

The world is better when people collaborate. This is an age-old sentiment passed on from generation to generation, reflected in timeless quotes that proliferate within society. Yet despite this recognition and constant reminder, people can still be prejudicial, especially against each other.

To be completely honest, people can be xenophobic, racist, and biased by nature. While this is only from a fraction of the population, it can contribute to an even bigger problem.

The Bigger Picture, the Problem With Discrimination

When humans function better as one, any perception or act of separating them can be detrimental.

However, it’s believed that people are subconsciously wired to do so.

As social as they can be, humans can also be selective. They actively classify those around them and nitpick how they interact with each other. With this, they can act according to these biases, fracturing the existing bonds among humanity. They say xenophobia is humanity’s natural tendency to fear strangers or those who are different than them. This means they’re expected to isolate themselves and be prejudiced against those who are different. But this doesn’t necessarily make them inconsiderate and insensitive toward these individuals.

It’s a pretty logical concept to follow. But somehow, people find this hard to practice.

While it’s safe to say that xenophobia can be a natural human instinct, others can be overt in how they express this fear and behave as discriminatorily as they can. This is what births racism, a narrow and specific practice that doesn’t only snap unity apart but also hurts individuals in the process.

This concept is best depicted in the book by Marvin Blake entitled Why. It follows the story of two sisters one black and one white, who, despite being from the same family, experience extremely varying circumstances. Their story reflects how different races are often treated with distinction, capturing the injustice and subservience of one against the other.

This is the problem regarding how extreme people can express and categorize themselves. They hurt and reduce other people’s value simply because they’re different. While it may seem as though overt racism is what hurts society the most, other underlying practices can have a more significant impact.

Subtle Racism, When Doing Less Is Damaging More

Racism is as prevalent now as it had been before.

Regardless of society’s progress or the movement individuals raise against it, subtlety will remain in the patterns and behaviors people exhibit. As unfortunate as it sounds, racism may as well be deeply engraved in humanity’s nature based on how persevering it is.

However, while all choices that can be perceived as racist are inherently wrong and evil, there is one that stands out. It may seem as though this form of racism is the least of society’s concerns, but it is the other way around. Subtle racism may be less evidenced, but this doesn’t make it less destructive. It’s its subtlety that makes it more dangerous and evasive to initiatives that are meant to alleviate such a problem.

Subtle racism is any discriminatory behavior concealed and often hidden behind seemingly innocent choices. Veiled under a sense of goodness and innocence, the consequence weighs the heaviest on its victims. Those who are victimized by subtle racism may feel discomfort and injustice, but they may also feel like it’s useless to speak up about it. This is because such behaviors are often covert, with perpetrators possibly unaware of their biases.

Subtle racism can be a byproduct of how society has groomed its citizens to think that such extreme categorization is natural. And if anything, any behavior that expresses this is tolerable.


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