A breakdown of LU's definition of racism, as used in our Loughborough University Race Equity Strategy (LURES)

The definition of racism in The Loughborough University Race Equity Strategy (LURES).

(1) Explicit or implicit discrimination, inequality, harm, violence, and abuse of (2) minoritized groups by members of a (3) dominant group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin (e.g. (4) Sinophobia), or religion (e.g. (5) Islamophobia, (6) anti-Semitism). Includes overt incidents as well as subtle interactions or behaviours which accumulate to cause harm. Ascertaining an individual’s racist intention is not fundamental to the acknowledgement of racism.

An explanation of The LURES definition of racism.

1. Explicit or implicit discrimination

Explicit racial discrimination refers to treating a person/people differently and less favourably in an overt or unequivocal way because of their race, ethnicity, or nationality.

Implicit discrimination refers to racism that may be the result of systemic, institutional practices or embedded cultural norms. Implicit racism tends to be less obvious, can be less deliberate and may occur out of a lack of awareness or is unintended but can be just as impactful as overt discrimination.

The Equality Act refers to some types of explicit and implicit discrimination as direct and indirect. Both are unlawful regardless of intent.

2. Minoritized and marginalised groups

Minoritized groups is a term that refers to the way in which racial groups who are fewer in number and have less power are generally treated less favourably than the dominant group. Being part of a minoritized group is not a fixed characteristic. Racial groups can be in the minority in a particular geographical area but be in the majority in other places in the world and racial groups can be greater in number in some places and still hold less power and be subject to discrimination. In this way groups that are larger or significant in number can also be marginalised e.g., women.

This is a group definition so does not apply to all individual experiences.

 3. Dominant group

The dominant group is a term that applies to racial groups that are larger in number and/or, generally have more societal power and are less disadvantaged as a result e.g., dominant groups are generally more advantaged in terms of housing, health, education and employment. This is a group definition so does not apply to all individual experiences.

4. Sinophobia

This example refers specifically to discrimination against Chinese people and Chinese culture on national and racial grounds. Sinophobia is a type of xenophobia i.e., the prejudicial and discriminatory treatment of people from other countries.

5. Islamophobia

Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness

(This is as defined by the All-Party Group on British Muslims 2019 and is explained by The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in Defining Islamophobia: Comprehensive report amplifies what it is, what it isn’t and why it matters).

6.  Antisemitism

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 individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities

(This is the international Definition of antisemitism | European Commission (europa.eu)|, which has been fully adopted by Loughborough University).

The above definitions are not exhaustive, for instance there could also be explanations of racism experienced against the expression of other types of religion, not listed, or against travelling communities. As our understanding of racism develops, there are likely to be an increasing number of identified explanations of racism based on cultural and religious difference.

General explanations of types of racist behaviour.

Systemic or institutional racism

Systemic racism describes the way in which an organisation’s policies and cultural practices habitually exclude or advantage specific racial groups and result in discriminatory outcomes.


Stereotyping involves attributing the same innate characteristics to all members of a group, regardless of individual differences.  It is often based on misconceptions, incomplete information, and false generalisations.  In most cases, stereotypes assume negative characteristics about a group but even stereotypes that seem positive are ultimately harmful. If we accept stereotypes perceived as ‘positive’, it follows that we will accept negative stereotypes too.

Racial profiling

Racial profiling is supposedly undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection and relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin rather than on reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or different treatment with an underlying assumption that the individual has perpetrated an offence.

Victim blaming

Victim blaming is the racism that occurs when people of colour or other racialised minority groups are blamed for their experience of a crime (whether that crime is racially motivated) such as physical, verbal, or sexual assault.

Some specific examples of microaggressions

  • Assigning levels of intelligence based on race e.g., expressing surprise at how articulate a person of colour is or assuming an Asian person will be good at sciences solely based on race
  • Colour blindness – statements that indicate that a white person does not want to acknowledge race e.g., “when I look at you, I don’t see colour”
  • Denial of the specific experience of racism e.g., “as a woman I know what it feels like to be discriminated against”
  • Myth of meritocracy e.g., “everyone can succeed if they work hard enough”

Some of this content on micro aggressions has been adapted from: Wing, Capodilupo, Torino, Bucceri, Holder, Nadal, Esquilin (2007). Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice. American Psychologist, 62, 4, 271-286