Updated: Sep 28, 2019

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‘All minorities in all societies in all historical periods have endured hostility from the government and the majority populations in the countries in which they live’

-Professor Panikos Panayi, De Montfort University


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.

The murders were carried out in pogroms and mass shootings; by a policy of extermination through labour in concentration camps; and in gas chambers and gas vans in German extermination camps, chiefly Auschwitz, Bełżec, Chełmno, Majdanek, Sobibór, and Treblinka in occupied Poland.


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