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Racism as the Epitome of Moral Bankruptcy Essay

Background: Racism as a Phenomenon

The phenomenon of racism has been on the global agenda for quite a while, and it is gaining increasingly large amounts of attention due to the rise in the globalization process and the enhancement of diversity levels all over the world. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the proponents of equality, racism persists in the contemporary environment, thus, setting the relationships between the representatives of different ethnicities centuries back and preventing people from developing the relationships based on equality compromise, and understanding. The phenomenon of racism does not stand any criticism as the principle of a social hierarchy form all ethical frameworks, including Kantian and Utilitarian philosophies since it undermines the very basis of inherent worth as it is dictated by the Categorical Imperative and at the same time defies the idea of contributing to the benefit of all stakeholders as required by the principles of Utilitarianism. Therefore, racism as the principle of building relationships between people must be rejected as the phenomenon that is inherently alien to the very concept of fair treatment and the common good. By refuting the phenomenon of racism, one will be able to build the relationship based on trust, acceptance, and compromise, therefore, opening oneself to the idea of tolerance and diversity.

Kwame Anthony Appiah’s View of Extrinsic Racism

The presence of racism as the idea of discriminating against people based on their racial, ethnic, or national identity is appalling. However, the very notion of racism is rather ambiguous; particularly, Appiah (May, 2017) stresses that racism as a phenomenon may have neutral connotations in the sense of identifying one’s race and the key characteristics thereof (Kallen, 2016). Appiah (Barr, 2014) specifies the brand of racism that he defines as extrinsic (Barton, 2015). According to the definition provided by the author, extrinsic racism implies an uninhibited aggression toward the representatives of other races (May, 2017). Therefore, Appiah views extrinsic racism as the attempt at attacking one based on one’s ethnic, racial, national, or any other type of identity, which means that extrinsic racism must be deemed as unacceptable.

Obligation to End Racism Due to Its Deplorable Consequences

Even though Appiah makes it quite clear that racism as a phenomenon is neutral, and it is mostly extrinsic racism that needs to be addressed, it is necessary to subvert the very concept of racism as a notion. One might argue that it is necessary to distinguish between different races and cultures so that the principles of multicultural communication could be promoted, and that the unique characteristics of all ethnicities, nationalities, and races could be recognized. While the specified statement is true, racism has very little to do with the actual acknowledgment of intracultural differences and, instead, is rooted deeply in intercultural misunderstandings and cross-cultural conflicts. In its contemporary understanding, racism implies the domination of one race over another, with drastic consequences for the latter, including not only the threat of people being ostracized and their rights being dismissed but also the inevitable deterioration of relationships between the parties involved.

The necessity to eradicate racism can also be explained based on the tenets of Utilitarianism. According to the existing definition, the philosophy of Utilitarianism implies that every action should be aimed at maximizing the utility of the outcome (Eggleston & Miller, 2014). From the Utilitarianism perspective, racism does not have the right to exist since the horrendous and morally unacceptable effects thereof manifest themselves on a number of levels, including the nationwide one and the one on which personal interactions occur. Moreover, the further enhancement of racism is bound to lead inevitably to the creation of numerous obstacles for the minority group to advance in the society. Finally, the minority group will face the threat of social ostracism and will have to either experience complete acculturation or experience consistent oppression.

Obligation to End Racism Due to Its Morally Problematic Intentions

As stressed above, the phenomenon of racism may be interpreted a morally blank as opposed to being intrinsically wrong. Therefore, it is essential to end racism so that it should not affect people’s lives. Particularly, it is crucial to create the environment in which people will be judged based solely on the merits of their actions and never on the basis of their skin color, race, ethnicity, or any other characteristic that can be deemed as inherent. Particularly, it is imperative to create the environment in which the value of human life will be considered the highest priority, and where people will be defined as equal no matter from what background they might come or what characteristics they may possess. Instead, actions, intentions, values, and ethics of the community members will be defined as primary factors based on which one may pass judgments concerning an individual. Thus, the opportunities for equality and the further elimination of racial discrimination will become a possibility. The importance of the specified obligation rests on the principle of Kantian ethics, in general, and on the concept of Categorical Imperative, in particular. To be more accurate, the premise for the further eradication of racism from the contemporary social environment can be described in the following way based on the Categorical Imperative: if people wish for racism to cease to exist, the notions of equality, morality, and social justice must become the foundation for their decision-making and judgment (Cholbi, 2016). Thus, the basis for addressing the issues associated with racial inequality can ostensibly be handled.

At this point, one might argue that the phenomenon of racism is barely possible to eliminate. Indeed, the relationships based on inequality have been occurring for far too long not to leave a mark on the further development of the interactions and the communication process between the participants involved in an intercultural dialogue. Nevertheless, with a proper emphasis on the importance of equality, diversity, multiculturalism, cooperation, and compromise as the basis for successful negotiation, one will be able to subvert the concepts linked to racism in the realm of the modern society.

Conclusion: Racism as an Intrinsically Wong Idea

Although there has been certain progress in the relationships between the representatives of different races and ethnicities, racism remains a notorious part of the modern society. Despite the fact that there are attempts at interpreting racism as a culturally neutral concept that implies merely drawing a line between different cultures and races, the very presence of the identified phenomenon in the realm of the modern world contributes to the further oppression of racial and ethnic minorities, as well as the aggravation of their economic, financial, and social conditions, the drop in the opportunities for education, financial progress, etc. Thus, essential ethical frameworks, including Utilitarianism and Kantian ethics, should be used to create a profound philosophy for eliminating racism.


Barr, D. A. (2014). Health disparities in the United States: Social class, race, ethnicity, and health. Baltimore, MD: JHU Press.

Barton, K. M. (2015). A state of arrested development: Critical essays on the innovative television comedy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Cholbi, M. (2016). Understanding Kant’s ethics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Eggleston, B., & Miller, D. E. (2014). The Cambridge companion to Utilitarianism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Kallen, A. (2016). Stones standing: Archaeology, Colonialism, and ecotourism in Northern Laos. New York, NY: Routledge.

May, L. (2017). Applied ethics: A multicultural approach. New York, NY: Routledge.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Racism as the Epitome of Moral Bankruptcy." October 2, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/racism-as-the-epitome-of-moral-bankruptcy/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Racism as the Epitome of Moral Bankruptcy'. 2 October.

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