Though they are often used interchangeably, there are important differences between prejudice, discrimination, racism, and bigotry. Prejudice is simply a snap judgment informed by instinct and previous experience.
Another word for discrimination is discernment. We discriminate rightfully and necessarily every day. Neither prejudice nor discrimination are inherently wrong. (…)
Note the definition is not merely that there are “inherent differences among the various human races.” How else would race be defined? Instead, racism is the belief that such differences “determine cultural or individual achievement.” The final component of racism is the belief that such differences in potential achievement justify unequal treatment under the law.
This is a very specific definition that, when considered honestly, is rarely applicable in modern American society. Yet, the term is bandied about with reckless abandon, often in reference to matters of simple discernment.
Bigotry is a word likewise misused...