What Is the Difference Between De Facto and De Jure Discrimination?

De jure discrimination means “of the law” and is discrimination enacted through law by the government, while de facto discrimination means “by the facts” and occurs through social interaction, according to Princeton.edu. De jure and de facto discrimination are both forms of racial prejudice.

According to Princeton.edu, de jure and de facto discrimination were at their highest before and during the Civil Rights Movement in America from the 1950s through the 1960s. An example of de jure discrimination is the Jim Crow Laws, which were laws enacted in the 1870s that limited people of color in America. They outlawed interracial marriage, created separate water fountains for whites and African Americans, and decreed that African Americans had to sit at the back of the bus. Because the Jim Crow Laws were passed by the government, they are de jure.

According to USLegal, de facto discrimination frequently occurred in schools. Even if a school was not legally segregated, violence towards African American students or teachers favoring white students would perpetuate the segregation. Neighborhoods were segregated not by law, but by the social and financial expectations that whites and African Americans should be separated. De facto discrimination does not occur from government legislation, but rather from social norms and prejudices.