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Short Essay On Race And Racism

1485 words - 6 pages

Short Essay on Race and Racism

Racism occurs when one ethnic group or people as a whole controls, excludes, or tries to exclude another on the idea of the differences that it believes are genetic and cannot be changed. A belief base for racism came to a realization in the Americas during the modern period. No clear and explicit evidence of racism has been found in other cultures or in Europe before the modern period. The identification of the Jews with the devil and witchcraft in the general public of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was perhaps the first sign of a racist view of the world. Real support for such attitudes came in sixteenth century Spain when Jews who had ...view middle of the document...

These laws basically implied that blacks were foreign and inferior.

During the Enlightenment, when Europe made a decisive transition to a distinctly modern age, beyond Columbus’s Christianity, a secular or scientific theory of race moved the subject away from the Bible, with its persistence on the necessary unity of the human race. Also known as the Age of Reason and regarded as one that inaugurated rationality as the highest human capacity. But the emphasis on reason was counter-balanced by an appreciation of pleasure, passion, and the role of emotions, especially in opposition to Christian doctrines (Rattansi p. 23) Eighteenth century ethnologists such as Kant and Hume, began to think of human beings as part of the natural world and subdivided them into three to five races, usually considered as varieties of a single human species. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, however, an increasing number of writers, especially those steadfast to their belief of slavery, believed that the races should be a separate species.

The Nineteenth century notions of different white races, already common in Europe, soon proliferated in public discussions. Although it was an age of, nationalism, emancipation and imperialism, all of these contributed to the growth and escalation of the idea of racism in Europe and the United States. Although the freeing of blacks from oppression and Jews from poor living conditions received most of its support from religious and non-religious alike in the matter of equality, the result of these reforms strengthened rather than reduced racism. The anxieties about the need to control the burgeoning landless laborers flooding into the fast-growing cities and of a growing industrial capitalism created a need for scapegoats. Class was racialized an, and race became intertwined with class and gender in the government of populations. (Rattansi p. 45) Darwin held that all humans belonged to the same species, his emphasis on "the struggle for existence" and concern for sociologist Herbert Spencer’s "the survival of the fittest" was absorbed into the prevailing ideas of scientific racism of that era. The technological advances and refined customs of the white races were proof of their greater “fitness” and the natural necessity that they rule over darker, inferior races. This increasingly viewed race relations as an area for conflict rather than as a stable arranged system.

The growth of nationalism, bolstered the growth of a unique cultural variant of racial thinking, especially in Germany. Beginning in the late 1870s and early 1880s, the authors of the term "antisemitism" made clear what some cultural separatists had previously insinuated, that to be Jewish in Germany was not simply to just abide by a set of religious beliefs or to observe certain cultural practices but it meant belonging to a race that was the opposite of the race to which a true German belonged.

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