Difference Between Racism and Prejudice

Main Difference – Racism vs Prejudice

Both racism and prejudice have caused numerous problems in the society. But, there is a difference between racism and prejudice. Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, and therefore, some races are superior to others. Prejudice is a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Prejudice can be defined as one of the causes of racism. This is the main difference between racism and prejudice.Difference Between Racism and Prejudice - infographic

What is Racism                                                                   

Racism is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. In simple words, it is the hatred of one person by another or the belief that one race is superior over the other. This so-called superiority or inferiority of race is measured by skin color, language, customs and traditions, place of birth or any other factor that purportedly reflects the basic nature of individuals.

Racism can be present in social actions and practices, or political systems. It can cause actions such as xenophobia, otherness, segregation, hierarchical ranking, and related social phenomena. This concept of racism has existed throughout the history of mankind, and it has resulted in slavery and wars.

Difference Between Racism and Prejudice

What is Prejudice

Prejudice is an undeserved, often negative attitude towards an individual based on that individual’s membership in a social group. What we mean by the term membership in a social group is factors like race, gender, age, caste, political opinions, religion, etc. But it is important to know that it is a predetermined view or judgment that is not based on facts or experience. Such preconceived ideas about a race can result in racism.

Prejudice is often caused by lack of knowledge and trust in a different social group. For example, people often tend to display a negative attitude towards individuals that belong to a different group and display a positive attitude towards those who belong to their own group. Individuals display dislike, hostility, and unjust behavior towards other social groups based on prejudice.

Prejudice is not an inherent belief or concept; we acquire it from those around us. Although it is not an inherent concept, it is difficult to change prejudices since they have been learned from childhood.

Main Difference - Racism vs Prejudice

Difference Between Racism and Prejudice


Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, and therefore, some races are superior to others.

Prejudice is a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.


Racism is a result of prejudice.

Prejudice can result in racism.


Racism is caused by dislike and hatred.

Prejudice is mainly caused by ignorance.


Racism has more destructive results than prejudice.

Prejudice is less destructive than racism.

Image Courtesy:

“Segregation 1938b” by John Vachon for U.S. Farm Security Administration – Library of Congress[1]. Licensed under via 

“Racial Political Campaign” (Public Domain) via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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