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Updated: Apr 7, 2023


The earliest origins and development of racist ideals and ideology, beginning in Ancient Greece. These ideas usually manifested themselves in the written word, although some contributors to this are illustrated by visual images.

We can trace patterns of rationalized prejudice, originating in the western Europe, in various periods before 1700’, i.e. the sort of rationalized prejudice which had become normal in Europe by the beginning of the 20th century. Europeans analysed several definitions of racism, essentially revolving around the assignation of perceived negative common characteristics towards groups which differ from the norms of those who assign them. Outsiders in the vast period covered include Jews, Romanies, Muslims and Africans.

But according to the earliest artifacts found. These analysts also focused on minorities in European societies and the lands from which they originated.

Rationalization of Prejudice in Greece and Rome’ gives us clues to the origins of the current racism. Which partly consists of the views of its citizens on race during the time of antiquity (beginning of recorded human history, about 3000 BC, to approximately the mid 400's, the Early Middle Ages).

Although Egyptian records precedes this period of Europe. It does not give a complete historical account of racism. But only provides particular classes of people. And scholars are still unable to fully decipher hieroglyphics. Which was the preferred method of Egyptian record keeping.

Central tenets of racism in ancient Europe practiced ‘environmental determinism’. A strong belief in the heritability characteristics. And the belief in the importance of lineage’. Which also remains important in subsequent forms of racism to this day.


In Rome. Roman writers described people with physical characteristics of sub-Saharan Africans as "Aethiopes", but the term carried no social implications. There was no such thing as a black community; immigrants from south of the Sahara were few and from disparate ethnic communities. The immigrants would have been separated from each other in households of white people, and if they had descendants these would have blended within very few generations into the local population.

While slavery was a deeply stigmatized social status, the great majority of slaves were from European and Mediterranean populations; inherited physical characteristics were not relevant to slave status. Black people were not excluded from any profession, and there was usually no stigma or bias against mixed race relationships in Antiquity.

Dehumanization of people of color, as seen throughout ancient Europe, took away the humanity that justifies universal protection of their rights. Ultranationalist leaders at the time. Legitimize the violence of people of color. Framing them as a threat to their culture and identity.


South Africa, Apartheid (South African segregation;"apartness") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia) from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid was characterised by an authoritarian political culture based on baasskap (or white supremacy), which encouraged state repression of Black African, Coloured, and Asian South Africans for the benefit of the nation's minority white population. The economic legacy and social effects of apartheid continue to the present day.

France, In 1685, Louis XIV set up the Code Noir ("Black Code"), a set of rules written by Jean-Baptiste Colbert. These rules were based on the principle that the black slave had no judicial rights and was the property of his master.

Below are some examples of articles present in the Black Code:

Article 44: the black slave is declared “movable” which means that he is a good that can be sold or passed down from generation to generation.

Article 46: the black slave can be sold at an auction.

Article 28: the black slave is prohibited from owning anything.

Articles 30 and 31: the black slave has no right to go to court, even if he is a victim, and his testimony holds no value whatsoever. However, if a slave hits his master (article 33), acts inappropriately towards a free person (article 34) or steals a horse or cow (article 35), he is to be killed.

Article 38: the runaway slave is to have his ears cut and is to have the image of a lily “fleur-de-lis” (a symbol of French royalty) branded unto his shoulder. If he relapses, he is to have the shallow of his knee cut and is to have a lily branded on his other shoulder. After a third offense, he is to be killed.


Medieval writers, played an essential role in the development of racial discourse, beginning a dehumanizing discussion about dark-skinned people and setting the stage for justifying their enslavement.

Racism has played a role in genocides such as the Holocaust, and the Armenian genocide, and colonial projects like the European colonization of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Indigenous people have been –and are– often subject to racist attitudes.

In April 1992, the government of the Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia. Over the next several years, Bosnian Serb forces, with the backing of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army, perpetrated atrocious crimes against Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Croatian civilians, resulting in the deaths of some 100,000 people (80 percent of them Bosniak) by 1995.

Turkey, Ottoman government's systematic extermination of 700,000 to 1.5 million Armenians, During the European colonization of Africa, Peter Forbath (The River Congo (1977) claims that at least 5 million killed. John Gunther (Inside Africa (1953) estimates 5-8 million deaths. Adam Hochschild (Leopold's Ghost mentioned above) estimates 10 million, or half the original population from 1885 to 1920.

King Leopold of Belgium, killed up to 12,000 000 in the Congo. The Italians under Mussolini killed 2,000,000 Ethiopians. During the Maafa (the Great Disaster) estimates reach as high as 100,000,000 Africans.

The Germans killed 250,000 Africans in the Namibian Desert in the 1800s in what was the "world first concentration camp"! In Germany some 200,000 Africans were killed in Nazi Germany.

The English wiped out 5,000 African Tasmanias in Australia during the Black Wars. The Tazmanian went extinct in 1903.

French, colonization of Africa, Algerian demographic change can be divided into three phases: an almost constant decline during the conquest period, up until its heaviest drop from an estimated 2.7 million in 1861 to 2.1 million in 1871, and finally moving into a gradual increase to a level of three million inhabitants by 1890.

Causes range from a series of famines, diseases, emigration; to the violent methods used by the French army during their Pacification of Algeria

Germany, The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah,was the World War II genocide of the European Jews. Between 1941 and 1945, across German-occupied Europe, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews, around two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population.


Any discussion of genocide must, of course, eventually consider the so-called Indian Wars, the term commonly used for U.S. Army campaigns to subjugate Indian nations of the American West beginning in the 1860s.

In an older historiography, key events in this history were narrated as battles. It is now more common for scholars to refer to these events as massacres. This is especially so of a Colorado territorial militia’s slaughter of Cheyennes at Sand Creek (1864) and the army’s slaughter of Shoshones at Bear River (1863), Blackfeet on the Marias River (1870), and Lakotas at Wounded Knee (1890).

Some scholars have begun referring to these events as “genocidal massacres,” defined as the annihilation of a portion of a larger group, sometimes to provide a lesson to the larger group.


The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. Building on the 1875 Page Act, which banned Chinese women from immigrating to the United States, the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law implemented to prevent all members of a specific ethnic or national group from immigrating.

Jim Crow laws, were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. All were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by white Democratic-dominated state legislatures after the Reconstruction period. The laws were enforced until 1965. In practice, Jim Crow laws mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in the states of the former Confederate States of America and other states, starting in the 1870s and 1880s, and were upheld in 1896, by the U.S. Supreme Court's "separate but equal" legal doctrine for facilities for African Americans, established with the court's decision in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson. Moreover, public education had essentially been segregated since its establishment in most of the South after the Civil War.

The Oregon black exclusion laws: were attempts to prevent black people from settling within the borders of the settlement and eventual U.S. state of Oregon.

The first such law took effect in 1844, when the Provisional Government of Oregon voted to exclude all black settlers from Oregon's borders. The law authorized a punishment for any black settlers remaining in the territory to be whipped with "not less than twenty nor more than thirty-nine stripes" for every six months they remained.

Additional laws aimed at African Americans entering Oregon were ratified in 1849 and 1857. The last of these laws was repealed in 1926. The laws, born of anti-slavery and anti-black beliefs, were often justified as a reaction to fears of blacks instigating Native American uprisings.

The Black Codes were laws passed in 1865 and 1866 by Southern states in the United States after the American Civil War in order to restrict African Americans' freedom, and to compel them to work in a labor economy based on low wages or debt.

Black Codes were part of a larger pattern of Southern whites trying to maintain political dominance and suppress the freedmen, newly emancipated African-American slaves. Black codes were essentially replacements for slave codes in those states. Before the war, some states that had prohibited slavery also enacted Black Codes: northern states such as Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and New York enacted laws to discourage free blacks from residing in those states.

They were denied equal political rights, including the right to vote, the right to public education, and the right to equal treatment under the law. Some of the northern states repealed such laws around the same time that the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished by constitutional amendment.

The Separate Car Bill: Following Reconstruction and the withdrawal of federal troops from the South, the Democratic Party came back to power. There began a process of "renegotiating the definitions of 'equal rights' in debates over post-Civil War amendments". Legislators proposed the Separate Car Bill which segregated Blacks from Whites in separate but equal conditions on train cars. Violations of the law were a misdemeanor crime punishable by a fine of at most $25 or twenty days jail time. Despite some opposition, the Separate Car Act passed the Louisiana State Senate by 23 to 6.


Although the United States has come a long way since the days of slavery, and huge steps were made towards granting equal rights on the basis of race in the 1960s, racism is still a very pressing problem in the US today. Sometimes it is blatant and open, but often it can be more subtle, or even built into the system, as seen by racial profiling by law enforcement officers and other government officials, and the near impossibility for some groups, especially African Americans, to break the cycle of poverty.

Discriminatory policies in schools lead to the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline.” Due to zero-tolerance policies in schools, disadvantaged black youths quickly end up being pushed out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems, instead of being given a chance and receiving counseling within the school system.


Although America is by nature a country of immigrants, US anti-immigrant sentiment is deeply rooted in American history, and continues to the present day. Many white Americans of European, usually Protestant, descent, like to claim that theirs is the one true “American” culture. The reality, of course, paints a picture of a culture that is anything but homogenous.

Native Americans lived on the land that is now the United States first, millions of Africans were brought to the US by force to be held in slavery, and people have been immigrating to the US from all around the world, not just western Europe, for centuries.

Xenophobia has risen over the past years as the topic of illegal immigration has come to the forefront of American politics. The nation is divided on what to do about the millions of illegal immigrants currently living on US soil. Anti-immigration groups patrol the border, making sure no more prospective immigrants cross over, and racial profiling is used to question the legal status of anyone “foreign-looking”. Especially with the instability of the US economy in recent years, some Americans fear that their jobs are being given away to immigrants.


After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Islamophobia has increased in the US, fueled by ignorance and the faulty belief that all Muslims are fundamentalists. Muslims, especially those who could be identified as such by their dress or practices, were frequent victims of assaults and attacks, mosques were vandalized, and they were generally made to feel unwelcome. The number of these incidents decreased over the following years, but many people still harbor general suspicion of Muslims and the Muslim faith.


European colonization of America: A standard estimate was 8 million for the entire hemisphere and 1 million north of the Rio Grande. In the 1960s, however, the anthropologist Henry Dobyns took account of disease to provide much higher estimates of 75 million for the hemisphere and 10–12 million north of Mexico. Although Dobyns’s estimates have been hotly debated, even advocates of much lower figures acknowledge the impact of devastating epidemics.

American colonization of the Philippines: At least 4,200 American and 16,000 Filipino soldiers are thought to have been killed in the fighting. Historians have debated the scale of civilian deaths, with estimates ranging from 200,000 to almost 1 million.

Lynching: Defined as "the killing of an individual or small group of individuals by a 'mob' of people" was a particular form of ritualistic murder, often involving the majority of the local white community. Lynching was sometimes announced in advance and became a spectacle for an audience to witness. Lynchings in the United States dropped in number from the 1880s to the 1920s, but there were still an average of about 30 lynchings per year during the 1920s. A study done of 100 lynchings from 1929 to 1940 discovered that at least one third of the victims were innocent of the crimes they were accused of.

Race riots: e.g. Red Summer riots, New York City draft riots, Tulsa race riot, Chicago race riot, The Elaine massacre, The Watts riot, The New Orleans, July 30, 1866, Detroit, July 23-27, 1967, The Memphis, May 1-3, 1866, The Atlanta, Sept. 22-24, 1906, Often had their roots in economic tensions or in white defense of the color line. In 1887, for example, ten thousand workers at sugar plantations in Louisiana, organized by the Knights of Labor, went on strike for an increase in their pay to $1.25 a day. Most of the workers were black, but some were white, infuriating Governor Samuel Douglas McEnery, who declared that "God Almighty has himself drawn the color line." The militia was called in, but withdrawn to give free rein to a lynch mob in Thibodaux. The mob killed between 20 and 300 blacks.

Which one is worse? America or Europe

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