Types & Forms of Racism

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Racism is an everyday occurrence that is complex and rooted in a history of colonization of exploitation and othering of racialized peoples.

To address and conquer racist ideologies, behaviours, practices and policies, we must first gain a deeper understanding of what racism is, the different types of racism and how it operates and is maintained and sustained in our society.

Additionally, it is equally important to acknowledge that racism has been constructed over the course of centuries and requires not only intellect and strategy to confront, but emotional energy and commitment in the engagement of Anti-Racism work.

Understanding types of racism

Racism is rooted in the history of capitalism and colonization by European nations. Race was socially constructed to support the justification for Europeans to exploit and dehumanize “other” nations and peoples, racism became the outcome of that behaviour. Racism is a generalizing definition of racialized peoples in a negative light, rooted in the biological differences (race) for the purpose of subjugation and establishing and maintaining certain political, social and economic advantages and privileges of the dominant group (white/European descent). Racism leads to racialized peoples experiencing social and physical hostilities and assaults.

Individual Racism

Individual racism is a combination of one’s attitudes, along with behaviours. Racist attitudes of the individual include the belief that one race better than another race. This is manifested in discriminatory behaviours rooted in bigotry, intolerance hatred and may be expressed overtly, or through microaggressions.

Institutional/Systemic Racism

Institutional racism is created through policies, practices and procedures. Sometimes it is clear to identify the racism ingrained in the policy etc. Other times it is subtle and requires more study and interrogation to uproot (i.e., talent acquisition processes).

Systemic racism refers to laws, rules and norms that have been interwoven into the social fabric of society (i.e., immigration laws, wage gap/education disparities between the dominant group and the equity deserving population).

Cultural/Ideological Racism

Cultural/Ideological are values embedded in dominant culture (i.e. the concept of beauty within western culture is Eurocentric. Or, another example is the way in which Indigenous ways of knowing were disregarded and seen unfit for the education of indigenous children, leading to the establishment of residential school system).

Ethnic Racism

The powerful and numerous collection of racist ideas, attitudes, behaviours, practices and policies that create inequality between racialized ethnic groups and uphold racist ideologies about racialized peoples.

Learn more about what we're doing to address different forms of racism at George Brown

Anti-Asian Racism

Anti-Asian racism is racism that is directed towards people of Asian descent and includes biases, prejudices, attitudes and beliefs, stereotyping, discrimination, and harassment. 

Anti-Black Racism

Anti-Black racism is prejudice, attitudes, beliefs, stereotyping, and/ or discrimination directed at individuals who are Black. It is rooted in their unique history and experience of being treated as property and as objects to be surveilled and controlled. Anti-Black racism should also be understood as policies and practices rooted in Canadian institutions, such as education, health care, and justice, that mirror and reinforce these beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping, and/or discrimination toward people of Black African descent.

Anti-Indigenous Racism

Anti-Indigenous racism is the ongoing race-based discrimination, negative stereotyping, and injustice experienced by Indigenous Peoples within Canada. It includes ideas and practices that establish, maintain and perpetuate power imbalances, systemic barriers, and inequitable outcomes that stem from the legacy of colonial policies and practices in Canada.1

Anti-Muslim Racism

Anti-Muslim racism refers to acts of prejudice directed toward individuals who are or who are believed to be Muslim and/or who follow the Islamic faith.


Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.