Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Racism refers to ideologies, actions, and policies that create and maintain a system of social inequality based on race (socially constructed categories on the basis of physical characteristics imbued with social significance). As a social problem, racism has been connected to substantial inequalities between whites and African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos/as in such areas as life expectancy, education, employment, health, housing, income, poverty, and wealth. These disparities have remained remarkably consistent in the United States in recent years. Racism is also manifest in unequal access to and treatment by criminal justice, health care, political, and economic institutions, as well as in the impact of policy decisions (e.g., housing, transportation, and location of environmentally hazardous sites). On a societal level, analysts connect racism to the loss of human potential, the economic costs of poverty- and inequality-related social problems, and the social conflicts stemming from segregation and division. As Michael Omi ...