black person with slightly odd eating habits and you comment on the same, does that make you a racist? Well if yes, why? Why can't it be seen in the same light as commenting on odd behavior of some white person? What makes you a racist? Who is a racist? Is racist a person who 'hates' people of other races or is he someone who believes his race is superior to all other races? If you think that 'hatred' and 'superior' are synonymous, then you are one of those many misguided souls who have heard all about racism but are not certain as to what really constitutes racist attitude.

For this reason, it is extremely important to define the term 'racist' and understand what or who is a racist and in the process remove ambiguities surrounding this term. This will also help us understand who is NOT a racist and what kind of behavior cannot be termed 'racist'. According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, racist is "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." Here the term as been used as an adjective and definition thus explains racist behavior or mindset. Racist, the person, would thus be someone upholding that belief. The American Heritage dictionary adds another dimension to this definition claiming that a racist is someone who "believes that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others" racist is thus someone who believes that a race is what makes a person superior/inferior in his attributes and capabilities. For example there is a biased perception that all black people are "lazy or unworthy." However there is no correlation between the two and it appears to be just a result of racially biased mindset. While being lazy or unworthy would certainly not be the most sought-after traits that an employer is looking for yet to correlate it to race shows bigotry. Such thinking is usually the source of racial discrimination. Nickel explains that a racist is someone who would "make claims which can be proven to be erroneous about the correlation between being black and having some relevant defect such as being lazy or untrustworthy...."

There are some misconceptions about racism and racist behavior that emerges from stereotypical images and ideas about racism. However it is important to understand that not all people who make some observations about people of other race are racists and similarly not everyone harbors 'hatred' for people of other races. Racist is a person who adopts blatantly discriminatory behavior or metes out ill treatment to people of other races because of biased mindset. For example some people believe that the entire American society is racist like Thomson (1977) who asserted that society in the U.S. accepts "a person's being black [as] right and proper grounds for denying that person full membership in the community" (Thomson 1977). Another theorist felt that…