History of Racism

A drinking fountain from the mid-20th century labelled "Colored" with a picture of an African-American man drinking

Racism is the belief that a bunch of humans own different behavioral traits corresponding to physical appearance and can be classified based on the supremacy of one race over another.

It also means discrimination, prejudice, and antagonism directed against other humans because they are of different ethnicities or races. Modern alternation of racism is based on direct social perceptions of biological diversity between peoples. These prospects can take the form of social actions, beliefs or practices, or political systems in which different races are classified as inherently inferior or superior to each other, based on presumed shared abilities, inheritable traits, or qualities.

History of Racism

Ancient Era

The earliest form of racism existed in Greece. Aristotle, who, in his analysis of slavery, asserted that while Greeks are free by nature, non-Greeks (“barbarians”) are slaves by nature, in that it is in their reality to be more willing to submit to a tyrannical government. Though Aristotle does not name any distinct races, he claims that people from countries outside Greece are more inclined towards the burden of slavery than those from Greece. While Aristotle makes comments about the most natural slaves being those with muscular bodies and slave souls (unintelligent, unfit for the rule), which would seem to indicate a physical basis for bias, he also explicitly states that the correct kind of bodies and souls don’t always go together, implying that the biggest determinate for weakness and natural slaves versus natural masters is the soul, not the body. This proto-racism is seen as an essential forerunner to modern-day racism.

Racism as a modern phenomenon:

Although antisemitism has a lengthy history related to Christianity and native Greek or Egyptian religions, racism itself is sometimes portrayed as a modern phenomenon. In the French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault’s view, the first formulation of racism arrived in the Early Modern era as the “discourse of race struggle” and political and historical discourse, which Foucault opposed to the philosophical and juridical discourse of sovereignty.

On the other hand, for example, Chinese self-identification as a “yellow race” predated such modern racial concepts.

This European investigation, which first arrived in Great Britain, was then carried on in France by such people as Nicolas Fréret, Boulainvilliers, and then, during the 1789 French Revolution, Sieyès, and afterward, Augustin Thierry and Cournot. Boulainvilliers, who built the matrix of such racist discourse in medieval France, perceived the “race” as being something remarkably closer to the sense of a “country,” that is, in his time, the “race” meant the “humans.”

He thought of France as being split between various countries – the unified nation-state is an antedate here – which themselves formed different “races.” Boulainvilliers opposed the oppressive monarchy, which tried to avoid the aristocracy by installing a direct relationship to the Third Estate. Thus, he revealed the theory that the French kings were the descendants of foreign invaders, whom he called the “Franks.” At the same time, according to him, the Third Estate comprised the autochthonous, vanquished Gallo-Romans. The Frankish aristocracy dominated them as a consequence of the right of conquest. Early modern (18th Century) racism was opposed to any form of nationalism and the nation-state: the Comte de Montlosier, in expulsion during the French Revolution, who acquired Boulainvilliers’ discourse on the “Nordic race” as being the French aristocracy that attacked the plebeian “Gauls,” thus showed his contempt for the Third Estate, calling it “this new person born of slaves … a mixture of all cultures and of all times”.

19th century

While 19th-century racism became intimately tangled with nationalism, leading to the ethnic nationalist discourse that recognized the “race” with the “folk,” leading to numerous movements as pan-Turkism, pan-Germanism, pan-Arabism, and pan-Slavism, medieval racism specifically divided the country into several non-biological “races,” which were thought to be the result of social conflicts and historical conquests. Michel Foucault investigated the genealogy of modern racism to this ancient “political and historical discourse of race struggle.” According to him, it split itself in the 19th century according to two opposing lines: on the one hand, it was incorporated by biologists, racists, and eugenicists, who gave it the modern sense of “race,” and they also remodeled this popular discourse into a “state racism” (e.g., Nazi Party). On the other hand, Marxism also embraced this discourse established on the assumption of a political struggle that presented the real engine of history and proceeded to act below the apparent peace. Thus, Marxists converted the essentialist notion of “race” into the ancient notion of “class struggle,” defined by socially structured positions: proletarian or capitalist. In The Will to Knowledge (1976 C.E.), Foucault interpreted another opponent of the “race struggle” discourse: Sigmund Freud’s analysis, which opposed the concept of “blood heredity,” was accepted in the 19th-century racist discourse.

United States of America

In the early modern United States, the American Colonization Society was founded as the principal vehicle for proposals to return black Americans to greater equality and freedom in Africa. The colonization effort emerged from a blend of motives. Its founder Henry Clay stated that “unconquerable bias resulting from their color, they never could amalgamate with the free whites. It was acceptable, therefore, as it respected them, and the remainder of the population of the country, to drain them off”.

One in a series of posters attacking Radical Republicans on the issue of black suffrage, issued during the Pennsylvania gubernatorial election of 1866.

Racism expanded throughout the New World in the 19th century and early 20th century. White capping, which began in Indiana in the late 19th century, soon spread everywhere in North America, causing several African laborers to flee from the area they worked on. In the U.S., during the 1860s, politicians used racist posters during election campaigns. In one of these racist posters, a black man is pictured lounging idly in the front as one white man plows his field and another chops wood.

Nazi party

The racial ideology formulated by the Nazis ranked humans on a scale of pure Aryan to non-Aryan, with the latter seen as subhuman. At the top of the order of pure Aryans were Germans and other Germanic peoples, including the Scandinavians, Dutch, and the English and other peoples such as some Frech and northern Italians, who were said to have a fitting admixture of Germanic blood. Nazi policies labeled Romani people, people of color, and Slavs (mainly Serbs, Poles, Belarusians, Russians, Czechs, and Ukrainians) as mediocre non-Aryan subhumans.

Austrian Nazis and local residents watch as Jews are forced to scrub the pavement, Vienna, March 1938

Jews were at the hierarchy’s bottom, considered inhuman and thus undeserving of life. In accordance with Nazi racial ideology, the Nazi army killed nearly six million Jews in the Holocaust. 2.5 million ethnic Poles, 0.22–0.5 million Romani, 0.5 million ethnic Serbs were killed by the administration and its associates.

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