2. Racial Prejudice + Power = Racism
People serious about the study of racism define it more strictly to mean the combination of racial prejudice + power. In other words, only the dominant group in a society can be racist because they have the power to oppress others. This forces the dominant group to recognize the dangerous side of their position of power and tends to make them upset. Some will avoid this issue all together and say that they are "colorblind", ignoring the very real effects of racial discrimination.
Marginalized groups of people can have racial prejudice towards members of the dominant group, (i.e., a black man calling a white man a cracker) but since they lack the power to oppress that group, it cannot be accurately called "racism." White people in America have not historically been called "crackers" and then been enslaved, denied work, imprisoned, framed, or hung by blacks.
In most cases, racism includes the social, political, and economic advantage of one group in relation to others. This can be seen in places where there is one group who has held control of essential positions in society. For example, America has existed for 230 years, but all the presidents have been white (males). Those who experience the effect of racism (minorities) often stick together to defend themselves against their harsh reality. They may form their own schools, newspapers, television networks and even create scholarships to help their people.
A person from the dominant group in society, however, doesn't need these specialized groups made just for them because they control the wealth and political/social/productive power and can always rely on these elements being there for their needs. From their perspective, things like Affirmative Action and the NAACP look like they perpetuate racism. In fact, these organizations are working to support marginalized, minority groups.
See Wikipedia's article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism for more information. Or read a history book.
Racism is difficult to see from a position of privilege and difficult to live with from a position of marginality.
People who experience racism often become bitter or angry. They may last out at the dominant group and use against them, but they are still marginalized.
In America, racism continues to be perpetuated by dominant whites, knowingly or unknowingly, because they are blinded by their own privilege. Education and learning history are two sure ways to overcome racism.
1) Strict definition: An irrational bias towards members of a racial background. The bias can be positive (e.g. one race can prefer the company of its own race or even another) or it can be negative (e.g. one race can hate another). To qualify as racism, the bias must be irrational. That is, it cannot have a factual basis for preference.
2) Commonly intended definition(in America): A bias that white people have against blacks.
3) Politically motivated definition: A justifiable reason to redistribute resources or opportunities between groups on the basis of race alone.
2) One is a racist for pointing out #1 *IF* there is no reason for pointing it out other than to make black people feel inferior.
3) Racism is the reason that a 20 on the ACT should actually be considered a 25 if the test taker was black.
In modern use, this word is used by people to explain the behaviour of people of other races, whether race is called into the issue or not.
Also: racism can now also include having good race relations. If you try to be friends with someone of a different race, someone will call you a racist.
Me: How is that racism? I was going to say that I met this black dude when I was going to see my best friend, who's asian.
Idiot: You're just friends with that asian because you think that makes you a good person for not being racist! You must feel sorry for him, you goddamn racist!
Me: Race doesn't come into it. But people like you force race issues into everything.
"Black" people often acuse "white" people of being racist when things don't go their way or when they want something.
If you think this definiton has been racist, you are very stupid.
Racist person: "Erm...uh...hm..."