Ethical Flaws of Racism

Racism represents an important ethical issue. After plenty of research, researchers have pointed out the relative neglect of racism as an ethical issue. Johnstone and Kanitsaki (2010) reflected that the preventable harms racism inflicts on ethnic and racial minorities will remain difficult to identify and manage. It could not be done unless racism is framed and addressed as a pre-eminent ethical issue. Anticipation, prevention, and remediation are the crucial components to bring improvement and change.

Racism as a historical and contemporary system of inequity is an embodiment of injustice. It happens when not giving due attention to the unfair disadvantage of certain groups. Neglect of racism and subsequent perpetuation of systematic disadvantage trample the conceptualization of justice based on human well-being. As unfair treatment of human beings based on race, ethnicity, and color, it needs to be evident that racism is primarily a core of ethics.

Racism is ethically indefensible as it fundamentally tramples on justice, equality, and human dignity by imposing bias and inequity based on unfair socially constructed differences among people. Individuals can be considered racist for beliefs and behaviors passing as racialized disrespect. Different aspects of racism have been understood as racism without racists. a

Racism mainly persists for the very reason that it serves the interests of racial majorities. Thomsen (2017) argued racism is an ideology and an injustice. It entails attitudes, stereotypes, and beliefs in racial categories. However, it is easier to locate the ethical flaws of racism when racism is conceived as an injustice rather than being understood as an ideology. Three reasons have been explored as major ethical failings of racism: disrespect, unfairness, and harm.

Mainly, the ethical flaw of racism lies in its inherent nature of being disrespectful towards a particular group of people. Racism as disrespect is conceived as the lack of respect for the worth and conditions of a specific group. Another ethical flaw of racism lies in its unfairness. Discrimination on the grounds of race and ethnicity is a fundamental flaw in a well-ordered liberal society. Last but not least, causing harm to the target groups is poisoning the ethical flaw of racism. Racism harms those who experience it, making it an ethically objectionable phenomenon regardless of underlying beliefs and attitudes.

Whether intentional or unwitting, a neglected attitude towards racist existence as a systemic form of both injustice and privilege highlights and increases the harmful effects of racism, meanwhile justifying it. Racism has profound social impacts on the population because it imposes unfair and unnecessary inequities that harm the health and well-being of ethnic and racial minorities. Thus, an ethical discourse of racism is an issue that needs urgent consideration to address the persistent systematic disadvantage and disparities experienced invariably by racial and ethnic minorities.


Johnstone, M. J., and Kanitsaki, O. (2010). The neglect of racism as an ethical issue in health care. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 12(4), 489–495.

Thomsen, F. K. (2017). Discrimination. Oxford research encyclopedia of politics. Oxford University Press.

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