What Is Racial Prejudice?

Racial prejudice can be defined by either making an adverse judgement or opinion based on race or having an irrational hatred or suspicion based on racial or religious group's stereotypes. Racial prejudice in society has the potential to be a damaging factor in even the most normal settings.

In the United States, racial prejudice still exists at all walks of life. Passive racial prejudice may lie in the assumption that a man with dark skin and an African name must come from Africa, despite facts to the contrary. This is an experience that can often be experienced by racial minorities in the United States.

Racial prejudice can also lead to institutional racism, such as what happened to Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor in 1941. Popular opinion at the time held that even second-generation Japanese Americans were potentially spies for the Japanese Empire due to a perceived lack of loyalty. This led to the institutional and systematic internment of Japanese Americans into detention camps during World War II.

A 21st-century example of racial prejudice comes in the form of racial profiling against Muslims and Arabs after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. An egregious case occurred in 2011 when an Ohio woman of Arab and Jewish descent was removed from her flight simply due to her ethnicity.