Racism is the belief that a particular race is inferior or superior to another and that a person’s biological characteristics predetermine his or her moral or social traits. Those who hold racist beliefs can see other races as subhuman; such as how white Europeans saw black Africans during the period of slavery in the New World.
Racism takes different forms in many countries, depending on cultural, religious, economic, or historic factors. Although it still exists in the modern world, slavery is widely condemned. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations convention that commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination. All parties of the Convention are required to outlaw hate speech and criminalize membership in racist organizations.
Racism has existed throughout human history and has influenced wars, slavery, and legal codes. Racism displayed by Western powers towards non-Westerners has significantly impacted history and is most notoriously seen in the enslavement of Africans. Racism shaped the early history of the United States and affected many events throughout the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, including dividing the country in its early years between “free states” and “slave states.”
Unfortunately, racism is not unique to one part of the world. Because the level of racism in a country cannot be measured as precisely as something like population, a survey needs to be conducted. The World Values Survey asked respondents from more than 80 countries dozens of questions, including one that asks respondents to identify types of people they would not want as neighbors. The researchers reasoned that the more people of a single country who respond that they would not want a neighbor of a different race, the less racially tolerant you could call that society.
Generally, the least racially tolerant countries were in Africa and Asia, while the most tolerant countries were Latin countries, Scandinavian countries, and the United Kingdom and its former colonies (the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand). The exceptions to this are Venezuela, where income inequality sometimes divides along racial lines, and the Dominican Republic, likely due to its proximity to Haiti. The United Kingdom and its former colonies are typically what are known as “melting pots” – home to people from all over the world with diverse mixes of race and culture.
There are also outliers. Pakistan has several factors that coincide with racial intolerance, such as low economic and human indices and sectarian violence; however, only 6.5% of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This is lower than the numbers of Germans and the Dutch.
When it comes to measuring the racial tolerance of countries, it is difficult to do so accurately. Several metrics need to be used to see how tolerant each country is, as there is a large difference between being okay with someone of another race being allowed in one’s country and marrying into one’s family. Additionally, some groups interpret the question by targeting a specific group instead of just different races in general. For example, Vietnam scoring particularly intolerant could be because they are less tolerant toward the race that first came to mind, the Chinese. They are less tolerant of this race than they are of other races in general. Lastly, it is very likely that people lied when answering the question in the survey.
Below are the least racially tolerant countries in the world.