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Concepts of Racism


This article begins with some comments about the words “racism” and “racist” and their strategic use by anti-racists. It points out what this tells us about anti-racism and looks at why the anti-racist strategy succeeds. The second section examines ten concepts of racism with a view to making out a morality of race. The conclusion is that the only requirement of such a morality is that racial discrimination in institutions be prohibited. But anti-racists want more of such discrimination, not less.


To state the obvious, the word “racism” has great power to condemn. Whatever the word denotes, it is wrong, so wrong that being guilty can bring great punishments, such as being ostracised and deprived of one’s livelihood. Not only that but punishments can be imposed on those who are merely accused. In 2021, Michael Vaughan was accused of racism by another cricketer. Despite denying the charge, he was promptly dropped from a slot on the radio by the BBC, which saw no need to ascertain the facts.[1] But what does the word denote? Given only the information that Michael Vaughan was accused of racism, what can we say about what he is supposed to have done? Nothing except that it presumably had something to do with race. This makes a nonsense of statements such as that racism has no place in our society or that we still have much to do in tackling it. What is it that has no place? What are we supposed to be tackling? No one knows because the word’s condemning power has overwhelmed its meaning to the point of obliteration.

We do, however, know that the list of things identified as racist gets longer every year, and we can name some recent additions to the list since anti-racists update us from time to time. We can say that it is now racist to enter a library, cycle in Hyde Park or walk in the hills, for anti-racists have declared that libraries, London’s cyclists and the English countryside are racist. We can say that it would be racist to study a 14th century manuscript, anti-racists having classified medieval scholarship as racist. We know that it is racist to look at birds through a pair of binoculars, go to church or describe oneself as the owner of one’s car because anti-racists have condemned birdwatching, Christianity and the concept of private property as racist. They have stated that having traditional values is racist, which means that it would be racist to be faithful to one’s spouse, and have said that it is racist merely to be white, or as anti-racists put it to partake of the attribute of whiteness. Above all, they say, it is racist, if one works in an institution such as a school, the National Health Service or the police, to treat everyone alike regardless of their race. This is the front line in the fight against racism today. The only acceptable thing to do is to give non-whites special treatment.

Such pronouncements tell us that for anti-racists the word “racist” has no fixed meaning. It is not a word like others but more like a weed-killer to be sprayed on whatever they want to get rid of. They also tell us what anti-racists want to get rid of, namely any white person who reads books and takes an interest in the natural world and history, especially if they are Christian and espouse values such as fidelity and justice. This person is the enemy of anti-racism, and so we see that to be anti-racist basically means to be anti-white.

We also see why the list of forbidden things keeps getting longer. The more white people submit to the attack, the more anti-racists are motivated to continue it and take it further, spraying the deadly word on things they had previously left alone in the garden of white culture.

Why do white people submit to the attack? How can they have stood by to see more and more of their culture reduced to dead wood by anti-racism? Partly it is because the consequences of being called a racist can be so severe that they have been prepared to do whatever it takes to avoid having the word attached to them, but it is also because they have not understood that they are being attacked. Crediting anti-racists with good faith and not considering the intentions of those who give them their ideas, they have thought that talk about racism is moral talk, aimed at wiping out evil, which anti-racists are somehow able to detect in more and more places. Being obedient and wanting to be good, when told that something is racist they have thought that it must be bad and have stopped doing it. They have not realised that they have been being cajoled, coerced and frankly fooled into renouncing much that was not bad at all, largely through the aggressive use of the word “racist”.

But however meaningless, although vicious, this word may be in the anti-racist usage, is there not a legitimate concept of what it is wrong to do regarding race? The word might have no moral content as anti-racists use it, but isn’t there a real morality of race? There is, which we can try to identify by looking at ten concepts of racism, only one of which, I will suggest, denotes something that really must not be done. True to form, the anti-morality of anti-racism requires us to do it.

Ten concepts of racism

1. The “racial epithet” concept

One thing Azeem Rafiq was reported to have accused Michael Vaughan of was calling him a Paki. This gives us the “racial epithet” concept of racism, according to which it is wrong to use an epithet referring to another ethnic group. But this is not a simple matter. Some racial epithets are considered offensive while others are not. For example, no one is offended when Australians are called Aussies, certainly not Australians, who use the epithet themselves. But nor are supposedly offensive racial epithets necessarily found offensive by the group concerned. Many Pakistanis call themselves Pakis just as Australians call themselves Aussies. This raises the question of who comes up with the idea that an epithet is offensive. It looks as though it could be some self-appointed arbiter who simply wants to create opportunities for people to claim to be offended, or to induce the sensitivity, so that we can think ill of the offender. This is surely true of “micro-aggressions”, a novel concept that enables black people to complain if a white person does something as innocent as asking them where they are from. There was simply a need to think of something new that white people could be accused of. In the case of racial epithets, perhaps the unseen arbiter simply designed a system in which the offended would always be non-white and the offenders white.

Clearly there are derogatory racial epithets, but no moral theory is needed to stop us using them. Common decency already causes us to refrain from using any derogatory epithets, racial or non-racial.

2. The “affinity-aversion” concept

Michael Vaughan was also reportedly accused of telling Azeem Rafiq that there were too many of his lot either at Yorkshire Cricket Club or in the country, it was not clear which. This gives us the “affinity-aversion” concept of racism, whereby it would be wrong not to want too many people of another ethnic group on one’s turf or more generally to express a preference for one’s group over others. This is a perfectly natural and unexceptionable sentiment, so if it is called racism and racism is wrong, the word is misapplied.

This concept is again loaded against white people. White people who engage in “white flight”, showing an affinity for living among their own kind, might be called racist, whereas the non-whites in the places they flee will not be called racist for preferring to live among their own kind. A white man who didn’t want his daughter to marry a black man would be called a racist, but a Muslim who didn’t want his daughter to go out with white boys would be seen as wanting to protect his cultural heritage. Even a Muslim who said that Muslims intended to take a white country over might not be called a racist, but a white person who said he wanted to retain it would be.

Racial affinity and aversion, otherwise known as ethnocentrism, can exist in any degree from strong to weak or zero. It can go into the negative, as in white anti-racists who are averse to their own race. The white race tends to be less averse to other races than are the other races. It is by nature more accommodating.

The “affinity-aversion” concept of racism was invoked by the commentator Emma Webb when in 2022, referring to the newly released census results, which reported that the white British were down to 36 per cent in London only twenty years after comprising 59 per cent of its population, she said that it was not racist to say that the rapidity of the change was socially disruptive.[2] It might be wrong, she implied, to object to the change on the grounds that the incomers were not white, but she wasn’t saying that; she was only concerned about the speed of the change. Perhaps the reason she disavowed racism under the “affinity-aversion” concept was not that she deplored it but so as to forestall attacks.

One reason for defending a person’s right to feel an affinity for their own race and an aversion to others, apart from the naturalness of the feeling, is that it is no one else’s business. If a girl expresses an affinity for her race in her choice of boyfriends, that is no one’s business but her own. Another reason is that racial affinity and aversion rarely have bad consequences. The usual way of expressing racial aversion is by avoiding the race to which one is averse. Against this, people might say: but racial aversion is dangerous. People have killed people of other races because they didn’t like those races. That is true, but the argument fails because the motive is not the problem; the problem is the crime. What has gone wrong is that the motive was not contained. After all, people have committed murder because they were insulted, because not enough mayonnaise was put on their burger or just to see what it was like. This does not mean that being offended by an insult, liking mayonnaise or curiosity are in themselves dangerous. No more is racial aversion.

3. The “prejudice” concept

For many people, “racial prejudice” means not liking members of another race. This is racial aversion, covered above (Concept 2). For others it means racial discrimination, covered below (Concept 10). What it actually means is prejudging people on the basis of their race. Prejudging people is bad. People should be given every chance to show us what they are like. If one sees a black man across the room at a party, dressed in suit and tie and conversing in a civil manner, and marks him down as a criminal because of his race, this would be prejudice because the judgement would be unsupported by any evidence. But in many cases what might look like prejudice is a conclusion based on evidence. If one sees a young black man with a gold tooth slouching in a city street with the waistband of his trousers round his backside and suspects that he is up to no good, the suspicion is justified. True, he could turn out to be a student of theology who hates knives and deplores drug dealing, but it is unlikely. One draws a provisional conclusion on the basis of the evidence presented. And if he turns out to be a student of theology, who suffers? One would simply have made a mistake.

4. The “stereotype” concept

A related concept of racism is that it is wrong to think in racial stereotypes. The trouble with this concept is that stereotypes tend to be true. The reason that the stereotype of the young black man as inclined to crime exists is that young black men are inclined to crime. If it is said that stereotypes do not apply universally, everyone knows this. Everyone who thinks of young black men as inclined to crime knows that not all young black men are inclined to crime. They are simply aware of the bad name young black men have made for themselves.

5. The “bigot” concept

A related concept is that of the bigot as a racist. The trouble here is that people who call people bigots rarely know what the word means. It means a person who hangs on to an idea despite all evidence that it is wrong. Bigots are fairly rare. Most people can modify their opinions in the light of contrary evidence. Generally, people called bigots by anti-racists just have opinions that anti-racists do not like, which could have been gained through long experience.

6. The “racial superiority” concept

For some people, racism means believing that one’s race is superior to the others. Such a belief is empty unless we are told in what respect the supposedly superior race is supposed to be superior. Is it supposed to be more athletic, to have a higher average IQ or to be better at finding its way unaided in the outback? Are we talking about a superior capacity to live at high altitudes, run fast or play chess? Secondly, as these examples show, the superiority of one race to another is often a purely factual matter and moreover entirely evident, rather than being a mere opinion. Australian Aborigines simply are the best at navigating unaided in the outback, nor does anyone hesitate to admit it, which shows that people will readily agree that their race is inferior to others in some ways as well as, they might say, superior in other ways. Nor is racial superiority or inferiority a problem. It is only because of a conditioned reflex that we react with horror to any mention of it.

It is worth distinguishing descriptive from evaluative superiority. To say that one thing is superior to another descriptively is just to say that it has more of a given attribute, thus to say descriptively that a ripe apple is superior to a less ripe one in ripeness is a mere tautology. The name of Lake Superior is meant descriptively, denoting the fact that it the biggest of the Great Lakes. It is not intended to mean that it is better. Evaluative superiority, on the other hand, where superior means better, comes in when the given attribute is valued. If one is looking for a ripe apple, then the riper apple is evaluatively as well as descriptively superior to the other one, meaning preferable. Therefore when one race is said to be superior to another by someone who values the attribute in respect of which the races are being compared, it is being said to be better in that respect. But again, so what? Some races are better than others at doing things we value. It is not the end of the world.

The idea that it is the end of the world or would be if we allowed ourselves to admit it does more harm than good. It makes people try not to notice things that there is no good reason for them not to notice or makes them give up their values lest they be taken to the dreaded value judgement. Who cares about intelligence anyway, they ask, rather than having to think that a more intelligent race is preferable to a less intelligent one. This is too high a price to pay. In the case of white people, it is their own race that they will do anything to avoid seeing as evaluatively superior to others. They must see the other races as the equals of their own or preferably its betters. They mistake an insistence on one’s race’s inferiority for a virtue.

7. The “world domination” concept

A seventh concept of racism is often joined to the “racial superiority” concept by dictionaries, which define racism as the belief that one race is superior to others and should therefore rule over them. Not only is the “racial superiority” concept vacuous if it is not said in respect of what attribute superiority is being claimed; there is no necessary link between it and the idea that an allegedly superior race should rule the world. Nor do many white people think that white people should rule the world, so if it is white people we are supposed to worry about there is little to fear.

8. The “cultural appropriation” concept

The “cultural appropriation” concept of racism barely deserves to be taken seriously. According to this, it is wrong to adopt a feature of another race’s culture. Black people who are bothered about cultural appropriation seem particularly to object to white people wearing their hair in “corn rows”. The idea came in with a special rule: only white people could be guilty, which was handy for black people, who might otherwise have been accused of appropriating the washing machine, the car, the telephone and the English language. The special rule also stops them being accused of cultural appropriation when they play white characters on the stage, in films or on television, as they do increasingly.

The double standard at work here was nicely illustrated by three events in 2018, which show how anti-racism can destroy a culture. In an annual fancy-dress pub crawl in Wales, some of those taking part were dressed as African beach traders and blacked up. This was thought to be so disgusting that a hospital for which the pub crawl raised £1,000 refused the money, and the event was abolished.[3] In the same month, also in Wales, an annual arts festival commended an opera in which the parts of workers at a Chinese takeaway were played by white people. This was such a grave transgression that the whole festival was not merely condemned but, again, abolished.[4] Yet when Joan of Arc was played by a mixed-race girl during celebrations in Orleans, this annual event was not abolished. Rather, those who objected to the misportrayal of their national heroine were denounced as racists.[5] Thus anti-racists managed to put an end to two innocent cultural events while defending a third that had been contrived to misrepresent the history of France.

9. The “empirical statement” concept

A ninth concept of racism refers to making empirical statements about race or the races, that is statements that are either true or false. This is a common and strongly-held concept, according to which it could be wrong to state a fact. The idea is seen most sharply regarding statements about the races’ average intelligence or their scores in IQ tests. As is well known, black people’s scores in such tests continue to be substantially lower than those of whites, which are a little lower than those of East Asians. Already by 1966 the second edition of Audrey Shuey’s book The Testing of Negro Intelligence could refer to 140 studies in addition to the 240 reviewed in the first edition, all pointing to the same conclusion. Since then, the finding has been repeated whenever such tests have been carried out, as when from 2015 to 2020 the average black score was much lower than the white, which was slightly lower than the East Asian, in tests of spatial awareness and ability to think logically and clearly taken by applicants to the Royal Air Force.[6] Other studies reveal differences in the races’ educational attainments as well their propensity to commit violent crimes, contract sexually transmitted diseases and do many other things.

But one does not need to read a scientific study to see how the races differ. One can just observe them, whether in Britain, America, South Africa or Nigeria. One can read a book and learn that when white people first reached Africa in the 15th century, they found people still living in the Stone Age with no written language, no building rising to two storeys and no wheel. One can look at the world chess rankings or compare the Notting Hill carnival with the Glyndebourne festival of opera. When it existed, one could buy a copy of New Nation, a black newspaper which one day in 1998 contained page after admiring page about gangsters, rap heroes and their crimes, and various black singers who had been murdered or convicted of murder. There was also a story about black parents queuing with their daughters outside a rap star’s hotel room in the hope of getting him to sleep with them.[7] Evidence of racial differences is all around us.

But according to the “empirical statement” concept of racism, to mention any of this evidence would be wrong. The races and the differences between them must not be described. The entire world of scientific research or common observation as it applies to race is condemned, and every effort is made to hush up what it tells us or would tell us. We only know about the RAF’s test results because they were leaked.[8] Instead, the very people who might have enlightened us, not only our journalists but our anthropologists, psychologists and even our biologists and geneticists engage in what in 1994, referring to psychologists’ treatment of intelligence-test results, Linda Gottfredson called “collective fraud”.[9] This, as she noted, was political correctness, to which academics were already so in thrall that they preferred a “scientific lie” to the truth.

Many people do not realise that political correctness is directly opposed to the truth, thinking that it only means something like being especially nice to certain groups. For example, a man about to make a statement about black people said that it would not be racist because it was scientific fact. He failed to see that political correctness or anti-racism as part of it wishes precisely to suppress statements of unwanted fact. Only what Linda Gottfredson called the “egalitarian fiction” can be spoken. Thus in 1969 when Arthur Jensen, at the time the world’s most famous psychologist, wrote a paper linking race with IQ, he was lambasted by the media and received bomb threats for years afterwards.[10] When James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix, said in 2007 that he felt gloomy about Africa’s prospects given the low African IQ, he lost his job at the research centre he had founded and with it his income. A few years later he had to sell his Nobel prize medal to help make ends meet.

The moral principle here is that it cannot be wrong to make a true statement or a statement one sincerely believes to be true. It can be socially inept, and tact may be needed, but tact should not overrule truth-telling in the sciences or the workings of institutions. Polite fictions need to be kept within limits.

10. The “racial discrimination” concept

To the British, racial discrimination has always seemed wrong, equality before the law being a long-standing principle of British justice which is generalised as the principle of equal treatment by any institution. The principle does not apply to private life, incidentally, as when a girl selects a boyfriend. She is not obliged to ignore the race of boys she might go out with. But institutions should ignore the race of those they deal with because it is irrelevant to their purposes.[11] A university’s admissions process should take no account of applicants’ races because race has nothing to do with its job of educating people. Nor should race be taken account of by a hospital because it has no relevance to the treatment people need, by the police in deciding whether to stop and search someone, and so on for any institution.

Hence in the early days of mass non-white immigration, which started in Britain in the 1950s, non-whites found that institutions treated them just like whites. This was not enough for the race activists of the day, who sought special treatment for non-whites, which they did by pointing to the different attainments of blacks and whites in the education system and their different fates at the hands of the police, for example, to argue that blacks were being discriminated against. They could cite few cases of discrimination, but they didn’t need any. All they needed were statistics showing the races’ different outcomes together with the taboo against explaining these by reference to differences between the races themselves, as in Concept 9. If the races were the same, why did their outcomes differ? “Institutional racism” was the answer, defeating which would require non-whites to be given special treatment. And so the anti-racist campaign against the principle of equal treatment began.

The campaign saw its first success in a report that followed the Brixton riots of 1981 by Lord Scarman, a law lord, which advocated positive discrimination, as Scarman called it, in three contexts including the policing of black crime.[12] But Scarman did not accept the concept of institutional racism. Only in 1999 with the publication of a report by Sir William Macpherson, a retired High-Court judge, was it endorsed, when the term was given a long and confusing definition that in effect allowed any institution to discriminate in favour of non-whites, as they all promptly started doing. Nor was Macpherson confusing when he stated: “Colour-blind policing must be outlawed”.[13] In the same vein, in 2017 the Lord Chief Justice extended anti-white discrimination when he urged judges to go easy on black offenders and come down harder on whites.[14] Thus some of the most senior figures in British justice colluded with anti-racists in advancing their agenda.

While non-whites were being made the beneficiaries of racial discrimination, the media spread the myth that they were being liberated from it as victims. Today anti-white discrimination continues to be taken further in both the public and private sectors in the name of diversity, inclusion and equality or “equity” or so as to make an organisation “reflect the community it serves”.

Racial discrimination is bad not only in principle but also in its effects. When black people are ignored by the police, who would have stopped and searched them had they been white, it increases crime. When they are promoted at work because of their race rather than their merit, it causes resentment in their more competent peers who are passed over. Racial discrimination takes black people out of roles that suit them and gives them jobs that are beyond them, making the employing body work less well. It causes institutions to become shifty and dishonest as they try to cover up what they are doing, which replaces trust in institutions with contempt and demoralises those who realise that they are not living in a fair society.

An exception to the no-racial-discrimination rule is immigration policy. A country is like a club that, although it should treat its members equally, has a perfect right to admit or not admit anyone as a member.


With that proviso, the last concept of racism is the only one that belongs in a morality of race. But anti-racists, while condemning the other nine things mentioned above, most of which do not need to be condemned, want ever more racial discrimination, which does need to be condemned. As people like Lord Scarman, Sir William Macpherson and Lord Thomas have increasingly eroded the principle of equal treatment, and now that the whole establishment is anti-racist, anti-racists demand yet more for non-whites at the expense of whites. They use their standard method to obtain it: the word “racist”, directed at any institution that does not oblige them.[15]

[1] BBC, November 16th 2021, “Azeem Rafiq: Yorkshire cricket racism scandal — how we got here”,

[2] The New Culture Forum, Dec. 2nd 2022, “White British Are Now An Ethnic Minority in Major Cities. Christianity now a Minority Religion”,

[3] Telegraph, Dec. 19th 2018, “Hospital charity refuses fundraisers’ cash who ‘blacked up’”,

[4] Telegraph, Dec. 4th 2018, “Annual Theatre Awards cancelled after opera shortlisted for prize consisted of all white actors playing non-white roles”,

[5] A French government minister called them not only racists but Fascists. See Telegraph, Feb. 23rd 2018, “France’s first mixed-race Joan of Arc hit by torrent of racist abuse”,

[6] The RAF found that East Asians averaged 60.1 per cent in the test, the white British 55.4 per cent and black Caribbeans 44 per cent. Black Africans averaged 40.6 per cent. See History Debunked, May 24th 2021, “Ethnicity, class and cognitive ability”,

[7] New Nation, Nov. 23rd 1998.

[8] History Debunked, Jan. 11th 2022, “Possible differences in cognitive ability between ethnic groups in Britain”,

[9] Linda S. Gottfredson, “Egalitarian fiction and collective fraud”, Society, March-April 1994, v31 n3 p.53-59.

[10] Jensen’s article “How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?” came out in the Harvard Educational Review. After supporting Jensen’s theory in Race, Intelligence and Education (1971, London: Temple Smith), Hans Eysenck was physically assaulted by “progressive intellectuals” at the London School of Economics (Chris Brand, 1997, “Hans Eysenck obituary”, Upstream,

[11] Very occasionally race may be relevant, as when casting for a play.

[12] Lord Scarman, The Scarman Report: The Brixton Disorders, 10-12 April 1981, Harmondsworth: Pelican-Penguin, 1982, first published 1981. See Paragraphs 4.56-4.58, 4.73, 4.76-77, 5.46 and 5.54.

[13] Sir William Macpherson, Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Report of an Inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny. CM 4262-I, The Stationery Office, 1999, Paragraph 45.24, available online.

[14] Sarah Corriher, Dec. 7th 2020, “U.K. prisons are for whites only”,, shows a Daily Star headline from 2017: “Judges will go softer on minorities as punishments get tough on white kids”. The Lord Chief Justice was Lord Thomas.

[15] See for example Christopher Rufo saying that critical race theory rejects equal treatment because it “represents ‘mere nondiscrimination’ and provides ‘camouflage’ for white supremacy, patriarchy, and oppression” (City Journal, April 22nd 2021, “How to fight critical race theory”,

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