Racism is the belief in the natural superiority of one race over another. It may mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity.
Racism can also be used to describe the social, legal, cultural, economic, and political processes that are a result of those beliefs. 
During the Holocaust, Nazis in Germany believed that some races did not even deserve to exist. These beliefs were racist. Because of those beliefs, they killed many people who belonged to those races. Those actions, which resulted from their racist beliefs, were also racist.
Racism has existed throughout human history. It has caused wars, slavery, the creation of nations, and laws. However, racism has never been the only cause of wars and slavery. Leaders often used racism to make their actions seem all right. For example, the Nazis used the idea that Slavic peoples were less than human to make it seem all right to take over those people's countries. In the United States, white people used the idea that African Americans were less than them to make it seem all right to treat them as property.
Race and ethnicity[change | change source]
Humans often categorize themselves by race or ethnicity. They do this based on ancestry, as well as visible traits like skin color and facial features. People of the same ethnic group are often connected by ancestry, speaking the same language, having the same culture, and living in the same places.
However, scientists say that humans do not really fit well into these categories, biologically. The DNA of people from different races is very similar. Evidence from genetics and archaeology suggests that all humans came from the same group of early humans in East Africa. This means that different races did not appear at different times. All humans came from the same race, and separated into different races later. Because white people historically had more power, some people call racism against whites reverse racism.
Social Darwinism[change | change source]
In the second half of the 19th century, there were different ideas on how species change over time. Charles Dawin made the idea of evolution popular and spoke about natural selection. Herbert Spencer spoke about the survival of the fittest. Social darwinism is the idea that what applies to species also applies to human societies:
- The idea of natural selection can also be applied to human societies. It is important for human development
- There's good breeding material, and there's bad one
- It is important to select the good material, and to eradicate the bad one
Between the 1870s, and the end of the Second World War, these concepts were sometimes used to justify racist ideologies.
Historical examples of racism[change | change source]
- The Atlantic slave trade
- The Jim Crow laws in the United States, about 1890 to 1960
- The Nuremberg Laws and The Holocaust in Nazi Germany, 1935-45
- The Apartheid laws in South Africa, after 1948
- The White Australia policy in Australia
- The Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist group
Racist ideologies[change | change source]
This section does not have any sources. (December 2012)
European racism[change | change source]
In the late 18th century, Europeans began using the term Aryan to refer to the original prehistoric Proto-Indo-Europeans and their descendants up to the present day (i.e., the Indo-European peoples—those Caucasians who speak the Indo-European languages). It was also assumed at the time, that, Aryans were a culturally superior people. By the late 19th century, some Europeans began to use the name Aryan for only the Nordic peoples of Europe (one branch of the Indo-European peoples), as a "pure," "noble" and racially "superior" race they claimed were descended from the original Aryan tribes. The theory that the Aryans first came from Europe became especially popular in Germany and to a lesser degree in Austria and Hungary.
There was much prejudice based upon this perception of the world as the Europeans and Orientals both regarded them selves as superior to the other skin colours, which lead to African slavery, Apartheid, the Jim Crow Laws, Nazism and Japanese imperialism.
In Europe, most racism is against Romani people, also known as gypsies. Antiziganism is common in Europe.
Racism and Colonialism[change | change source]
Anglo-French racism[change | change source]
As the colonies became independent after the 1950s, many migrated to the U.K. and France, but were discriminated against. Some British cafes and hotels would not welcome in Caribbean guests and the French made Arabs feel unwelcome in some French towns as well. Since the 1960s, India, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people have moved to the U.K. and been victimised and 'Paki-bashed'. 9/11, 2001, has heightened the French and British fears about Islam and Arabs in general. Polish and Brazilian migrant labours are also discriminated against in some places. Racist parties like the U.K.'s British National Party and National Front trade on these fears to get votes.
Racism in Nazism[change | change source]
Alleged scientific findings of racial differences were used by Nazi Germany to justify the racialist policy with its concept of "Großdeutschland" (Greater Germany) and the Nordic race idea. The Nazis' attitude towards the Jews were anti-Semitic and falsely blamed them for Germany's defeat in World War I and the Great Depression. The Nazis and some of their anti-Semitic allies, like Hungary, committed genocide against the Jews during the Holocaust of World War II.
Both the Nazis and Romania's Iron Guard also persecuted the Roma, who were considered part of the allegedly inferior 'Indic' race. During World War II, the Nazis embarked on a systematic attempt at genocide of the Roma, known as the Porajmos. The Nazis also knowingly killed of thousands of Slavs, lesbians, Communists, liberals and gays.
Racism in Italy[change | change source]
Fascist Benito Mussolini, in a 1919 speech to denounce Soviet Russia, claimed that Jewish bankers in London and New York City were bound by the chains of race to Moscow, and claimed that 80 percent of the Soviet leaders were Jews.
Many Italian fascists held anti-Slavist views, especially against neighbouring Yugoslav nations, who they saw as being in competition with Italy, which had laid claim to the Yugoslavia's region of Dalmatia.
Mussolini said Italy would get its own way and was willing to use force to settle arguments. An early example was Italy's bombardment of the Greek island of Corfu in 1923. Soon after he succeeded in setting up a puppet regime in Albania and crushed a rebellion in Libya, which had been an Italian colony since 1912.
Italy, like Germany, Austria and Hungary regarded all Slavs and Roma as stupid, racially inferior due to the effects of Social Darwinism and undeserving of their basic rights. Anti-Arab discrimination was also used in parts of Libya.
Racism in Romania[change | change source]
Racism in America[change | change source]
American racism has been a major issue in the country since before its founding. Historically dominated by White settler society, race in the United States as a concept became significant in relation to other groups. Generally racist attitudes in the country have been most onerously applied to Native Americans, African Americans and some "foreign-seeming" action against Mexican immigrants among others. The Chinese, Japanese and Irish had trouble in America, during the 19th century, but the Blacks fell foul of the Jim Crow Laws which once racially separated some parts of America between Blacks and Whites. These first emerged in the late 19th Century and lasted to the mid 1960s and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The United States' legal system has been accused of racism. 40% of the prison population are black. 12% of the general population is black. The New York Police Department stop-and-frisk program has been accused of racial profiling.
The book To Kill A Mockingbird is a well-known American novel largely focusing on race in the Jim Crow era, described earlier.
In the 21st century, certain groups of non-white people hold the idea that all white people have advantages over them based on their skin color, with disregard to family background, personal history, or current situation.
Racism in the United Kingdom[change | change source]
In the United Kingdom the two most popular nationalist political parties are the British National Party (BNP) and the UK Independence Party (UKIP). There is also a group called the English Defense League (EDL). They are thought to be racist by a lot of people. They are against unlimited immigration and colonization by Muslims. Although Muslims can be of any race, they are usually South Asian. In a 2013 poll, 27% of 1000 British people aged between 18 and 24 said that they did not trust Muslims. In the United Kingdom most people are white. 7% are Asian and 3% are black. 4.83% of the British population are Muslims.
Apartheid[change | change source]
South African "Apartheid laws" were a system was used to deny many rights of non-white people. They started in 1948. The laws allowed the white minority to keep the Black majority out of certain areas. Black people had to carry special papers (passes) or have permission to live and work in particular areas. Whites opposed intermarriage with non-whites and coloured people were also discriminated against, but not as badly as the non-whites. The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 prohibited marriage between persons of different races and the Immorality Act of 1950 made sexual relations with a person of a different race a criminal offence. The blacks suffered greatly and were even banned from voting at one point. Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994. Mandela ended apartheid. Currently, racial quota laws discriminate against Whites in South Africa. The Black President Zuma of South Africa publicly sings "Kill The Boer", which means, Kill the White [Farmer]". Genocidewatch.org reports that the White South Africans are facing genocide.
The Imperial Rule Assistance Association of Japan[change | change source]
The Imperial Rule Assistance Association (Taisei Yokusankai) was a coalition of fascist and nationalist political movements of Japan such as the Imperial Way Faction (Kōdōha) and the Society of the East (Tōhōkai). It was formed under the guidance of Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe  Prior to creation of the IRAA, Konoe had already effectively nationalized strategic industries, the news media, and labour unions, in preparation for total war with China. Japan needed more land, minerals and colonies, so they annexed Korea, Manchuria and part of China. The Japanese regarded the Chinese, Koreans and Europeans as an inferior race that should be crushed and exploited.
A changing world[change | change source]
With the revelations of the holocaust, as well as worldwide antiracist efforts, old ideas about race changed and, more slowly, some prejudices about race faded. The civil rights movement tried to liberate persons of African origin from racist white supremacist rule in South Africa and the southern USA. Blacks could vote in South Africa after a 50-year ban.
The growth of the Hispanic population through immigration from Mexico and elsewhere, combined with and high birth rates, are a factor in the USA's rising population in the last quarter-century. The 2000 census also found Native Americans/Amerindians at their highest population ever, 4.5 million, since the U.S was founded in 1776.
Related pages[change | change source]
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Environmental racism
References[change | change source]
- Racism Archived 2016-09-13 at the Wayback Machine Oxford Dictionaries
- "Racism" in R. Schefer. 2008 Encyclopedia of race, ethnicity and society. SAGE. p. 1113
- Newman, D.M. (2012). Sociology : exploring the architecture of everyday life (9th ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE. p. 405. ISBN 978-1-4129-8729-5.
racism: Belief that humans are subdivided into distinct groups that are different in their social behavior and innate capacities and that can be ranked as superior or inferior.
- Hauser, Christine. Merriam-Webster Revises ‘Racism’ Entry After Missouri Woman Asks for Changes. Washington Post. June 10, 2020. 
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- Benito Mussolini, Richard Washburn Child, Max Ascoli, Richard Lamb. My rise and fall. Da Capo Press, 1998. p. 106.
- Spicer, Kevin P. 2007. Antisemitism, Christian ambivalence, and the Holocaust. Indiana University Press on behalf of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. p.142. (Describes the Romanian Iron Guard as a totalitarian nationalist and anti-Semitic movement.)
- "Civil Rights Act of 1964 - CRA - Title VII - Equal Employment Opportunities - 42 US Code Chapter 21 - findUSlaw". finduslaw.com.
- "City sues to block NYPD stop-frisk profiling law". Queens Chronicle.
- Kotecha, Sima (25 September 2013). "Quarter of young British people 'do not trust Muslims'". BBC News.
- Alistair Boddy-Evans. African History: Apartheid Legislation in South Africa, About.Com. Accessed 5 June 2007.
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- "Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2000" (PDF).
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