We already have a tag of "Racism" but dictionary definitions of this seem to vary and many/most place emphasis on motive and belief system. Some definitions appear to say that racial discrimination (treating someone differently by reason of their race) is only Racism if it is motivated by a belief by the discriminator in the superiority of their own race compared to the race of the other person they are treating differently.

I'm not saying that Racism should or should not be defined in that way - the English language is whatever it is. But it means that Racism as a term can be used by different people in different ways sometimes very narrowly. For example if Racism requires belief in racial superiority then not all racial segregation is necessarily be Racism - though clearly racial segregation is always Racial Discrimination (because it involves different treatment on the basis of race).

So a tag of Racial Discrimination would be more useful (perhaps in addition to Racism).

This question is an illustration of the misunderstandings which can arise. The questioner asks

Why did "inter-racial" marriage attract disapproval even from African-Americans?

and uses the tag Racism

To the questioner the Racism tag imports the idea of racial superiority and that explains the even from African-Americans phrase.

But commentators are understanding Racism to mean racial prejudice without the idea of superiority (another meaning of Racism) and so don't understand why the questioner says even from African-Americans.

  • Would it really be useful to have both tags? Could you think of a question which should clearly be tagged as "Racism" but not as "Racial Discrimination" and another where "Racial Discrimination" would be a wrong tag but "Racism" would be correct? Do you think that the decision when to use which tag would be obvious to everyone? If not, then it's more of a use-case for tag synonyms.
    – Philipp Mod
    Nov 23, 2021 at 12:59
  • Personally I would tend to avoid Racism because you can end up with question begging and imprecision. I would rather say "Racial Discrimination motivated by belief in racial superiority" if that is what I wanted to say rather than try to capture the idea with Racism. Best not to elide the description of what is happening with the motivation but to deal with them distinctly.
    – Nemo
    Nov 23, 2021 at 13:06
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    Answers to this question politics.stackexchange.com/questions/8277/… ended up being question-begging because the questioner and some answers were using the term differently - initially without realising that. Some answers were along the lines of "affirmative action is by definition done from good motives (wouldn't be affirmative if not done for good motives) whereas a racism is by definition done from bad motives (would not be racism is done for good motives) therefore by definition there cannot be any overlap.
    – Nemo
    Nov 23, 2021 at 13:14
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    So far your arguments seem to be in favor of a tag rename from "Racism" to "Racial-discrimination" instead of two separate tags. When the term "racism" is indeed ambiguous, then we should perhaps not use it as a tag at all and use less ambiguous tags instead.
    – Philipp Mod
    Nov 23, 2021 at 14:04
  • I agree with that for the future. My only query would be what to do with existing tagged questions but I guess changing all existing Racism tags to Racial-Discrimination would be OK since Racism is a subset of Racial-Discrimination.
    – Nemo
    Nov 23, 2021 at 14:29
  • @Nemo - See, merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism and dictionary.com/browse/racism. By those definitions "racial discrimination" is included in (i.e., a "subset" of) racism.
    – Rick Smith
    Dec 6, 2021 at 15:01
  • Your first link has quite a narrow definition. It seems to include racial discrimination but only if it is systematic -- e.g. by a government. The second link includes racial discrimination but only as one definition at the bottom of the list.
    – Nemo
    Dec 6, 2021 at 15:05

2 Answers 2


Why not just broaden the scope of the tag? According to Wikipedia:

Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another. It may also mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity.

Then the updated tag excerpt would read (something like):

Questions related to the prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism based on race or ethnicity. Both the beliefs that one's own race is superior and racial discrimination in general are covered.

This way, all race-based discrimination is covered by one tag. It makes little sense to me to split different definitions of racism across different tags, that only adds confusion and hampers findability. Furthermore, there would be a lot of overlap because those policies which are founded on the idea that one race is superior will also be racial discrimination.

Then I would also suggest that isn't used when a question is about racism alone. So would only be added in addition to if the question covers other types of discrimination as well, again to improve findability.

Tag selector
About Use tag
Race or ethnicity
Age, gender, or other
  • I think "ethnicity" is a good word to include. It appears in the first sentence of the proposed definition and it could be included in the second sentence as well - "racial/ethnic discrimination in general". Race is a problematic word because it has its origins in the idea of polygenism which was considered scientific in the 18th Century but has long been considered pseudoscience. Although race has long been discredited as a biological concept it lives on as another word for ethnicity but the original pseudoscientific idea of race sometimes makes a comeback in racial superiority.
    – Nemo
    Nov 23, 2021 at 21:49
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    Based on your answer, I added a table to identify which tags to use for various "discrimination" questions. Of course, feel free to do whatever with the edit.
    – Rick Smith
    Nov 24, 2021 at 17:48
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    I changed the excerpt for the [discrimination] tag to mention [racism] and [antisemitism]. I also updated the excerpt for the [racism] tag.
    – Rick Smith
    Dec 4, 2021 at 14:31

You say you see a problem with the racism tag but how exactly would racial-discrimination be any different? It has all the same connotations as racism but is just saying it in a different manner. Personally I don't see a need for that tag or how it would apply to a question and the racism tag would not.

  • Put it this way. In the United Kingdom, at least, virtually nobody believes in racial superiority. Almost everyone would dismiss the idea as risible pseudoscience. But plenty of people dislike people who are different from them. There are virtually no Racists (as defined in the excerpt) in the UK but plenty of people who discriminate on racial grounds.
    – Nemo
    Nov 23, 2021 at 15:50
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    @Nemo In my experience people don't just dislike people for being different that there are underlying reasons for those beliefs. But regardless tags need to be defined with a wider audience then a single country.
    – Joe W
    Nov 23, 2021 at 15:58
  • agree with you single country point. But do people in general in the US actually conceive Racism as being limited to those motivated by belief in racial superiority? There can't be many of those even in the US!
    – Nemo
    Nov 23, 2021 at 16:00
  • @Nemo Just because someone claims they don't think of racial superiority doesn't mean that is actually true. It isn't that hard into convincing yourself to believe something about yourself in order to not see flaws.
    – Joe W
    Nov 23, 2021 at 16:03
  • But now that we have DNA sequencing it is surely virtually impossible to believe that there are distinct races and that one is superior to others, surely?
    – Nemo
    Nov 23, 2021 at 16:08
  • @Nemo I think you are overthinking this, the people that are holding these beliefs are not going to be swayed by DNA testing. There are plenty of strongly held beliefs that can easily be disproven by science but that doesn't cause people to change their minds.
    – Joe W
    Nov 23, 2021 at 17:10
  • Can you give an example of something disproven by science but which a significant proportion of people still believe?
    – Nemo
    Nov 23, 2021 at 17:13
  • @Nemo Pretty sure you just gave one but I also never said anything about how many believe in it. A quick example would be flat earthers when people knew that the earth was round for thousands of years and we now have pictures of it from space in addition to all the other proof we have.
    – Joe W
    Nov 23, 2021 at 17:15

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