RACISM is discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their
race or ethnicity . Today, the use of the term "racism" does not
easily fall under a single definition.
The ideology underlying racist practices often includes the idea that
humans can be subdivided into distinct groups that are different due
to their social behavior and their innate capacities as well as the
idea that they can be ranked as inferior or superior. The Holocaust
is a classic example of institutionalized racism which led to the
death of millions of people based on race. While the concepts of race
and ethnicity are considered to be separate in contemporary social
science , the two terms have a long history of equivalence in both
popular usage and older social science literature. "Ethnicity" is
often used in a sense close to one traditionally attributed to "race":
the division of human groups based on qualities assumed to be
essential or innate to the group (e.g. shared ancestry or shared
behavior). Therefore, _racism_ and _racial discrimination _ are often
used to describe discrimination on an ethnic or cultural basis,
independent of whether these differences are described as racial.
According to a
United Nations convention on racial discrimination ,
there is no distinction between the terms "racial" and "ethnic"
discrimination. The UN convention further concludes that superiority
based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally
condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and there is no
justification for racial discrimination, anywhere, in theory or in
Racist ideology can become manifest in many aspects of social life.
Racism can be present in social actions , practices, or political
systems (e.g., apartheid ) that support the expression of prejudice or
aversion in discriminatory practices. Associated social actions may
include nativism , xenophobia , otherness , segregation , hierarchical
ranking, supremacism , and related social phenomena.
* 1 Etymology, definition and usage
* 1.1 Legal
* 1.2 Social and behavioral science
* 1.4 Popular usage
* 2 Aspects
* 2.2 Color blindness
* 2.3 Cultural
* 2.4 Economic
* 2.5 Institutional
* 2.6 Othering
* 2.10 Symbolic/modern
* 3 International law and racial discrimination
Ethnicity and ethnic conflicts
Ethnocentrism and proto-racism
* 6.2 _Limpieza de sangre_
* 6.3 19th century
* 6.4 20th century
* 6.5 Contemporary
* 7.1 Scientific variants
Heredity and eugenics
Polygenism and racial typologies
* 7.1.3 Human zoos
* 8 Theories about the origins of racism
* 9 State-sponsored racism
* 10.1 International Day for the Elimination of Racial
* 10.2 Teaching about racism
* 11 See also
* 12 References and notes
* 13 Further reading
* 14 External links
ETYMOLOGY, DEFINITION AND USAGE
GENETICS AND DIFFERENCES
Race and genetics
Human genetic variation
* Historical concepts
* in Brazil
* in the
Racial inequality in the United States
Racial wage gap in the United States
* Crime in the
United Kingdom Crime in the
Race and health
* in the
History of the race
and intelligence controversy * Sports
* Video games
_ An early use of the word "racism" by
Richard Henry Pratt in
1902: "Association of races and classes is necessary to destroy racism
and classism ._"
In the 19th century, many scientists subscribed to the belief that
the human population can be divided into races. The term _racism_ is a
noun describing the state of being racist, i.e., subscribing to the
belief that the human population can be classified according to race.
The origin of the root word "race" is not clear. Linguists generally
agree that it came to the English language from
Middle French , but
there is no such agreement on how it came into Latin-based languages,
generally. A recent proposal is that it derives from the Arabic
_ra's_, which means "head, beginning, origin" or the Hebrew _rosh_,
which has a similar meaning. Early race theorists generally held the
view that some races were inferior to others and they consequently
believed that the differential treatment of races was fully justified.
These early theories guided pseudo-scientific research
assumptions; the collective endeavors to adequately define and form
hypotheses about racial differences are generally termed scientific
Today, most biologists , anthropologists , and sociologists reject a
taxonomy of races in favor of more specific and/or empirically
verifiable criteria, such as geography , ethnicity or a history of
endogamy . To date, there is little evidence in human genome research
which indicates that race can be defined in such a way as to be useful
in determining a genetic classification of humans.
An entry in the _
Oxford English Dictionary _ (2008) simply defines
racialism as "An earlier term than racism, but now largely superseded
by it," and cites it in a 1902 quote. The revised Oxford English
Dictionary cites the shortened term "racism" in a quote from the
following year, 1903. It was first defined by the Oxford English
Dictionary as "he theory that distinctive human characteristics and
abilities are determined by race", which gives 1936 as the first
recorded use. Additionally, the
Oxford English Dictionary records
_racism_ as a synonym of _racialism_: "belief in the superiority of a
particular race". By the end of
World War II
World War II , _racism_ had acquired
the same supremacist connotations formerly associated with
_racialism_: _racism_ now implied racial discrimination , racial
supremacism and a harmful intent. (The term "race hatred" had also
been used by sociologist
Frederick Hertz in the late 1920s.)
As its history indicates, the popular use of the word _racism_ is
relatively recent. The word came into widespread usage in the Western
world in the 1930s, when it was used to describe the social and
political ideology of
Nazism , which saw "race" as a naturally given
political unit. It is commonly agreed that racism existed before the
coinage of the word, but there is not a wide agreement on a single
definition of what racism is and what it is not. Today, some scholars
of racism prefer to use the concept in the plural _racisms_ in order
to emphasize its many different forms that do not easily fall under a
single definition and they also argue that different forms of racism
have characterized different historical periods and geographical
areas. Garner (2009: p. 11) summarizes different existing definitions
of racism and identifies three common elements contained in those
definitions of racism. First, a historical, hierarchical power
relationship between groups; second, a set of ideas (an ideology)
about racial differences; and, third, discriminatory actions
Though many countries around the globe have passed laws related to
race and discrimination, the first significant international human
rights instrument developed by the
United Nations (UN) was the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR was adopted by
United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The UDHR recognizes that
if people are to be treated with dignity, they require economic rights
, social rights including education , and the rights to cultural and
political participation and civil liberty . It further states that
everyone is entitled to these rights "without distinction of any kind,
such as race, colour , sex , language , religion , political or other
opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."
The UN does not define "racism"; however, it does define "racial
discrimination": According to the 1965 UN International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction,
exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent ,
or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of
nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an
equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the
political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public
In their 1978
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice
(Article 1), the UN states, "All human beings belong to a single
species and are descended from a common stock. They are born equal in
dignity and rights and all form an integral part of humanity."
The UN definition of racial discrimination does not make any
distinction between discrimination based on ethnicity and race, in
part because the distinction between the two has been a matter of
debate among academics , including anthropologists . Similarly, in
British law the phrase _racial group_ means "any group of people who
are defined by reference to their race, colour, nationality (including
citizenship) or ethnic or national origin".
Norway , the word "race" has been removed from national laws
concerning discrimination because the use of the phrase is considered
problematic and unethical. The Norwegian Anti-
bans discrimination based on ethnicity, national origin, descent and
SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE
Sociology of race and ethnic relations
Sociologists , in general, recognize "race" as a social construct .
This means that, although the concepts of race and racism are based on
observable biological characteristics, any conclusions drawn about
race on the basis of those observations are heavily influenced by
cultural ideologies. Racism, as an ideology, exists in a society at
both the individual and institutional level.
While much of the research and work on racism during the last
half-century or so has concentrated on "white racism" in the Western
world, historical accounts of race-based social practices can be found
across the globe. Thus, racism can be broadly defined to encompass
individual and group prejudices and acts of discrimination that result
in material and cultural advantages conferred on a majority or a
dominant social group. So-called "white racism" focuses on societies
in which white populations are the majority or the dominant social
group. In studies of these majority white societies, the aggregate of
material and cultural advantages is usually termed "white privilege ".
Race and race relations are prominent areas of study in sociology and
economics . Much of the sociological literature focuses on white
racism. Some of the earliest sociological works on racism were penned
W. E. B. Du Bois , the first
African American to earn a
doctoral degree from
Harvard University . Du Bois wrote, "The problem
of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line ." Wellman
(1993) defines racism as "culturally sanctioned beliefs, which,
regardless of intentions involved, defend the advantages whites have
because of the subordinated position of racial minorities". In both
sociology and economics, the outcomes of racist actions are often
measured by the inequality in income , wealth , net worth , and access
to other cultural resources, such as education, between racial groups.
In sociology and social psychology , racial identity and the
acquisition of that identity, is often used as a variable in racism
studies. Racial ideologies and racial identity affect individuals'
perception of race and discrimination. Cazenave and Maddern (1999)
define racism as "a highly organized system of 'race'-based group
privilege that operates at every level of society and is held together
by a sophisticated ideology of color/'race' supremacy. Racial
centrality (the extent to which a culture recognizes individuals'
racial identity) appears to affect the degree of discrimination
African American young adults perceive whereas racial ideology may
buffer the detrimental emotional effects of that discrimination.
Sellers and Shelton (2003) found that a relationship between racial
discrimination and emotional distress was moderated by racial ideology
and social beliefs.
Some sociologists also argue that, particularly in the West where
racism is often negatively sanctioned in society, racism has changed
from being a blatant to a more covert expression of racial prejudice.
The "newer" (more hidden and less easily detectable) forms of
racism—which can be considered embedded in social processes and
structures—are more difficult to explore as well as challenge. It
has been suggested that, while in many countries overt or explicit
racism has become increasingly taboo , even among those who display
egalitarian explicit attitudes, an implicit or aversive racism is
still maintained subconsciously.
This process has been studied extensively in social psychology as
implicit associations and implicit attitudes , a component of implicit
cognition . Implicit attitudes are evaluations that occur without
conscious awareness towards an attitude object or the self. These
evaluations are generally either favorable or unfavorable. They come
about from various influences in the individual experience. Implicit
attitudes are not consciously identified (or they are inaccurately
identified) traces of past experience that mediate favorable or
unfavorable feeling, thought, or action towards social objects. These
thoughts, feelings or actions have an influence on behavior of which
the individual may not be aware.
Therefore, subconscious racism can influence our visual processing
and how our minds work when we are subliminally exposed to faces of
different colors. In thinking about crime, for example, social
psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt (2004) of
Stanford University holds
that, "blackness is so associated with crime you're ready to pick out
these crime objects." Such exposures influence our minds and they can
cause subconscious racism in our behavior towards other people or even
towards objects. Thus, racist thoughts and actions can arise from
stereotypes and fears of which we are not aware.
Language , linguistics and discourse are active areas of study in the
humanities , along with literature and the arts .
seeks to reveal the meaning of race and the actions of racists through
careful study of the ways in which these factors of human society are
described and discussed in various written and oral works. Van Dijk
(1992), for example, examines the different ways in which descriptions
of racism and racist actions are depicted by the perpetrators of such
actions as well as by their victims. He notes that when descriptions
of actions have negative implications for the majority, and especially
for white elites, they are often seen as controversial and such
controversial interpretations are typically marked with quotation
marks or they are greeted with expressions of distance or doubt. The
previously cited book, _
The Souls of Black Folk _ by W.E.B. Du Bois,
African-American literature that describes the
author's experiences with racism when he was traveling in the South as
an African American.
Much American fictional literature has focused on issues of racism
and the black "racial experience" in the US, including works written
by whites such as _Uncle Tom\'s Cabin _, _
To Kill a Mockingbird _, and
_Imitation of Life _, or even the non-fiction work _
Black Like Me _.
These books, and others like them, feed into what has been called the
"white savior narrative in film ", in which the heroes and heroines
are white even though the story is about things that happen to black
characters. Textual analysis of such writings can contrast sharply
with black authors' descriptions of African Americans and their
experiences in US society.
African American writers have sometimes
been portrayed in
African-American studies as retreating from racial
issues when they write about "whiteness ", while others identify this
African American literary tradition called "the literature of
white estrangement", part of a multipronged effort to challenge and
dismantle white supremacy in the US.
Racism can be said to describe a condition in society in which a
dominant racial group benefits from the oppression of others, whether
that group wants such benefits or not.
In popular usage, as in some academic usage, little distinction is
made between "racism" and "ethnocentrism ". Often, the two are listed
together as "racial and ethnic" in describing some action or outcome
that is associated with prejudice within a majority or dominant group
in society. Furthermore, the meaning of the term racism is often
conflated with the terms prejudice, bigotry , and discrimination.
Racism is a complex concept that can involve each of those, but it
cannot be equated with nor is it synonymous with these other terms.
Also, the term is often used in relation to what is seen as prejudice
within a minority or subjugated group, as in the concept of "reverse
Reverse racism describes discriminatory actions by members
of a minority group against a dominant or formerly dominant racial or
other group representative of the majority in a particular society.
Those who campaign for the interests of ethnic minorities commonly
reject the term "reverse racism". From their perspective, "racism" is
defined not only in terms of individual prejudice, but also in terms
of a power structure which protects the interests of the dominant
culture and actively discriminates against ethnic minorities. From
this perspective, they claim that while members of ethnic minorities
may be prejudiced against members of the dominant culture, they lack
the political and economic power to actively oppress them, and they
are therefore incapable of "racism".
Specifically, the word "racism" appears to have been coined by Magnus
Hirschfeld, a German-Jewish medical researcher who specialized in the
field of sexology, or the scientific study of sex. The second edition
Oxford English Dictionary (1989) lists the first known use of
the word in English as appearing in the 1936 book _The Coming American
Fascism_ by Lawrence Dennis, a self-described fascist and advocate of
fascism in America. However, Hirschfeld, who died in 1935, used the
word in the title of his book _Racism_, written in German a year
before the first known use of the word by Dennis, and the word
"racism" is used throughout the text. The word is a pejorative and was
always intended as such; Hirschfeld himself denounced those he viewed
as racist, and very few if any people use the word to describe
themselves or their ideas, only those ideas they disagree with or find
The ideology underlying racism can become manifest in many aspects of
social life. Such aspects are described in this section, although the
list is not exhaustive.
Aversive racism is a form of implicit racism in which a person's
unconscious negative evaluations of racial or ethnic minorities are
realized by a persistent avoidance of interaction with other racial
and ethnic groups. As opposed to traditional, overt racism, which is
characterized by overt hatred for and explicit discrimination against
racial/ethnic minorities, aversive racism is characterized by more
complex, ambivalent expressions and attitudes.
Aversive racism is
similar in implications to the concept of symbolic or modern racism
(described below), which is also a form of implicit, unconscious, or
covert attitude which results in unconscious forms of discrimination.
The term was coined by Joel Kovel to describe the subtle racial
behaviors of any ethnic or racial group who rationalize their aversion
to a particular group by appeal to rules or stereotypes. People who
behave in an aversively racial way may profess egalitarian beliefs,
and will often deny their racially motivated behavior; nevertheless
they change their behavior when dealing with a member of another race
or ethnic group than the one they belong to. The motivation for the
change is thought to be implicit or subconscious. Experiments have
provided empirical support for the existence of aversive racism.
Aversive racism has been shown to have potentially serious
implications for decision making in employment, in legal decisions and
in helping behavior.
Color blindness (race) in the United States
In relation to racism, Color blindness is the disregard of racial
characteristics in social interaction , for example in the rejection
of affirmative action, as way to address the results of past patterns
of discrimination. Critics of this attitude argue that by refusing to
attend to racial disparities, racial color blindness in fact
unconsciously perpetuates the patterns that produce racial inequality.
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva argues that color blind racism arises from an
"abstract liberalism , biologization of culture, naturalization of
racial matters, and minimization of racism". Color blind practices
are "subtle, institutional , and apparently nonracial" because race
is explicitly ignored in decision making. If race is disregarded in
predominately white populations, for example, whiteness becomes the
normative standard, whereas people of color are othered , and the
racism these individuals experience may be minimized or erased. At
an individual level, people with "color blind prejudice" reject racist
ideology, but also reject systemic policies intended to fix
institutional racism .
Cultural racism is a term used to describe and explain new racial
ideologies and practices that have emerged since World War II. It can
be defined as societal beliefs and customs that promote the assumption
that the products of a given culture, including the language and
traditions of that culture are superior to those of other cultures. It
shares a great deal with xenophobia , which is often characterised by
fear of, or aggression toward, members of an outgroup by members of an
Cultural racism exists when there is a widespread acceptance of
stereotypes concerning different ethnic or population groups. Where
racism can be characterised by the belief that one race is inherently
superior to another, cultural racism can be characterised by the
belief that one culture is inherently superior to another.
Racial wage gap in the United States and Racial
wealth gap in the
United States Nazi boycott of Jewish
businesses , Germany, 1933
Historical economic or social disparity is alleged to be a form of
discrimination caused by past racism and historical reasons, affecting
the present generation through deficits in the formal education and
kinds of preparation in previous generations, and through primarily
unconscious racist attitudes and actions on members of the general
Bank of America
Bank of America agreed to pay $335 million to settle a
federal government claim that its mortgage division, Countrywide
Financial, discriminated against black and Hispanic homebuyers.
During the Spanish colonial period , Spaniards developed a complex
caste system based on race, which was used for social control and
which also determined a person's importance in society. While many
Latin American countries have long since rendered the system
officially illegal through legislation, usually at the time of their
independence, prejudice based on degrees of perceived racial distance
from European ancestry combined with one's socioeconomic status
remain, an echo of the colonial caste system.
Institutional racism ,
State racism ,
Affirmative action ,
Racial profiling , and
Racism by country
Institutional racism (also known as structural racism, state racism
or systemic racism) is racial discrimination by governments,
corporations, religions, or educational institutions or other large
organizations with the power to influence the lives of many
Stokely Carmichael is credited for coining the phrase
_institutional racism_ in the late 1960s. He defined the term as "the
collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and
professional service to people because of their colour, culture or
Maulana Karenga argued that racism constituted the destruction of
culture, language, religion, and human possibility and that the
effects of racism were "the morally monstrous destruction of human
possibility involved redefining African humanity to the world,
poisoning past, present and future relations with others who only know
us through this stereotyping and thus damaging the truly human
relations among peoples".
Othering is the term used by some to describe a system of
discrimination whereby the characteristics of a group are used to
distinguish them as separate from the norm.
Othering plays a fundamental role in the history and continuation of
racism. To objectify a culture as something different, exotic or
underdeveloped is to generalize that it is not like 'normal' society.
Europe's colonial attitude towards the Orient exemplifies this as it
was thought that the East was the opposite of the West; feminine where
the West was masculine, weak where the West was strong and traditional
where the West was progressive. By making these generalizations and
othering the East,
Europe was simultaneously defining herself as the
norm, further entrenching the gap.
Much of the process of othering relies on imagined difference, or the
expectation of difference. Spatial difference can be enough to
conclude that "we" are "here" and the "others" are over "there".
Imagined differences serve to categorize people into groups and assign
them characteristics that suit the imaginer's expectations.
Racial discrimination refers to discrimination against someone on the
basis of their race.
James A. White Sr.: The little problem I had renting a house, TED
Talks , 14:20, February 20, 2015
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into
socially-constructed racial groups in daily life. It may apply to
activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water
fountain, using a bath room, attending school, going to the movies, or
in the rental or purchase of a home. Segregation is generally
outlawed, but may exist through social norms, even when there is no
strong individual preference for it, as suggested by Thomas Schelling
's models of segregation and subsequent work.
Supremacism In 1899
Uncle Sam balances his new
possessions which are depicted as savage children. The figures are
Puerto Rico ,
Philippines and "Lad robes" (the Mariana
European colonialism in the
Africa and Asia
were often justified by white supremacist attitudes. During the early
20th century, the phrase "The White Man\'s Burden " was widely used to
justify an imperialist policy as a noble enterprise. A justification
for the policy of conquest and subjugation of Native Americans
emanated from the stereotyped perceptions of the indigenous people as
"merciless Indian savages" (as described in the United States
Declaration of Independence ). In a 1890 article about colonial
expansion onto Native American land, author
L. Frank Baum
L. Frank Baum wrote: "The
Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of
the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier
settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few
remaining Indians." Attitudes of black supremacy ,
Arab supremacy ,
and East Asian supremacy also exist.
Symbolic racism A rally against school
integration in 1959.
Some scholars argue that in the US earlier violent and aggressive
forms of racism have evolved into a more subtle form of prejudice in
the late 20th century. This new form of racism is sometimes referred
to as "modern racism" and it is characterized by outwardly acting
unprejudiced while inwardly maintaining prejudiced attitudes,
displaying subtle prejudiced behaviors such as actions informed by
attributing qualities to others based on racial stereotypes, and
evaluating the same behavior differently based on the race of the
person being evaluated. This view is based on studies of prejudice
and discriminatory behavior, where some people will act ambivalently
towards black people, with positive reactions in certain, more public
contexts, but more negative views and expressions in more private
contexts. This ambivalence may also be visible for example in hiring
decisions where job candidates that are otherwise positively evaluated
may be unconsciously disfavored by employers in the final decision
because of their race. Some scholars consider modern racism to be
characterized by an explicit rejection of stereotypes, combined with
resistance to changing structures of discrimination for reasons that
are ostensibly non-racial, an ideology that considers opportunity at a
purely individual basis denying the relevance of race in determining
individual opportunities and the exhibition of indirect forms of
micro-aggression toward and/or avoidance of people of other races.
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
In 1919, a proposal to include a racial equality provision in the
Covenant of the League of Nations was supported by a majority, but not
adopted in the
Paris Peace Conference, 1919 . In 1943, Japan and its
allies declared work for the abolition of racial discrimination to be
their aim at the Greater East
Asia Conference . Article 1 of the 1945
UN Charter includes "promoting and encouraging respect for human
rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to
race" as UN purpose.
UNESCO suggested in _
The Race Question _—a statement
signed by 21 scholars such as
Ashley Montagu ,
Claude Lévi-Strauss ,
Gunnar Myrdal ,
Julian Huxley , etc.—to "drop the term _race_
altogether and instead speak of ethnic groups ". The statement
condemned scientific racism theories that had played a role in the
Holocaust . It aimed both at debunking scientific racist theories, by
popularizing modern knowledge concerning "the race question," and
morally condemned racism as contrary to the philosophy of the
Enlightenment and its assumption of equal rights for all. Along with
Myrdal's _An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy
_ (1944), _The Race Question_ influenced the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court
desegregation decision in "Brown v. Board of
Education of Topeka ".
Also in 1950, the
European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights was adopted,
widely used on racial discrimination issues.
United Nations use the definition of racial discrimination laid
out in the _International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
Discrimination _, adopted in 1966:
... any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on
race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the
purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition,
enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and
fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or
any other field of public life. (Part 1 of Article 1 of the U.N.
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
In 2001, the
European Union explicitly banned racism, along with many
other forms of social discrimination, in the Charter of Fundamental
Rights of the
European Union , the legal effect of which, if any,
would necessarily be limited to Institutions of the
European Union :
"Article 21 of the charter prohibits discrimination on any ground such
as race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language,
religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a
national minority, property, disability, age or sexual orientation and
also discrimination on the grounds of nationality."
A racist political campaign poster from the 1866 Pennsylvania
gubernatorial election A sign on a racially segregated beach
during the era of
Apartheid in South
Racism existed during the 19th century as "scientific racism ", which
attempted to provide a racial classification of humanity. In 1775
Johann Blumenbach divided the world's population into five groups
according to skin color (Caucasians, Mongols, etc.), positing the view
that the non-caucasians had arisen through a process of degeneration.
Another early view in scientific racism was the polygenist view ,
which held that the different races had been separately created.
Christoph Meiners for example, split mankind into two
divisions which he labeled the "beautiful White race" and the "ugly
Black race". In Meiners' book, _The Outline of
History of Mankind_, he
claimed that a main characteristic of race is either beauty or
ugliness. He viewed only the white race as beautiful. He considered
ugly races to be inferior, immoral and animal-like.
Anders Retzius demonstrated that neither Europeans nor others are one
"pure race", but of mixed origins. While discredited , derivations of
Blumenbach's taxonomy are still widely used for the classification of
the population in the United States. H. P. Steensby, while strongly
emphasizing that all humans today are of mixed origins, in 1907
claimed that the origins of human differences must be traced
extraordinarily far back in time, and conjectured that the "purest
race" today would be the
Australian Aboriginals .
Scientific racism fell strongly out of favor in the early 20th
Century, but the origins of fundamental human and societal differences
are still researched within academia , in fields such as human
genetics including paleogenetics , social anthropology , comparative
politics , history of religions , history of ideas , prehistory ,
history , ethics , and psychiatry . There is widespread rejection of
any methodology based on anything similar to Blumenbach's races. It is
more unclear to which extent and when ethnic and national stereotypes
World War II
World War II and the
Holocaust , racist ideologies
were discredited on ethical, political and scientific grounds, racism
and racial discrimination have remained widespread around the world.
From time to time when there is a revival of social and political
tensions, new works are published which repeat past and discredited
racial views such as J R Baker's 'Race'. Because of the social
disapproval of explicit expressions of racism, contemporary authors
may achieve a similar effect by insinuating subtle unstated
stereotypes in their work as in Gladwell's 'The Tipping Point', a
tactic President Obama called 'dog whistle racism'.
Du Bois observed that it is not so much "race" that we think about,
but culture: "... a common history, common laws and religion, similar
habits of thought and a conscious striving together for certain ideals
of life". Late 19th century nationalists were the first to embrace
contemporary discourses on "race", ethnicity, and "survival of the
fittest " to shape new nationalist doctrines. Ultimately, race came to
represent not only the most important traits of the human body, but
was also regarded as decisively shaping the character and personality
of the nation. According to this view, culture is the physical
manifestation created by ethnic groupings, as such fully determined by
Culture and race became considered intertwined
and dependent upon each other, sometimes even to the extent of
including nationality or language to the set of definition. Pureness
of race tended to be related to rather superficial characteristics
that were easily addressed and advertised, such as blondness. Racial
qualities tended to be related to nationality and language rather than
the actual geographic distribution of racial characteristics. In the
case of Nordicism, the denomination "Germanic" was equivalent to
superiority of race.
Bolstered by some nationalist and ethnocentric values and
achievements of choice, this concept of racial superiority evolved to
distinguish from other cultures that were considered inferior or
impure. This emphasis on culture corresponds to the modern mainstream
definition of racism: "
Racism does not originate from the existence of
'races'. It _creates_ them through a process of social division into
categories: anybody can be racialised, independently of their somatic,
cultural, religious differences."
This definition explicitly ignores the biological concept of race,
still subject to scientific debate. In the words of
David C. Rowe "A
racial concept, although sometimes in the guise of another name, will
remain in use in biology and in other fields because scientists, as
well as lay persons, are fascinated by human diversity, some of which
is captured by race."
Racial prejudice became subject to international legislation. For
instance, the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination , adopted by the
United Nations General Assembly on
November 20, 1963, address racial prejudice explicitly next to
discrimination for reasons of race, colour or ethnic origin (Article
ETHNICITY AND ETHNIC CONFLICTS
Debates over the origins of racism often suffer from a lack of
clarity over the term. Many use the term "racism" to refer to more
general phenomena, such as xenophobia and ethnocentrism , although
scholars attempt to clearly distinguish those phenomena from racism as
an ideology or from scientific racism, which has little to do with
ordinary xenophobia. Others conflate recent forms of racism with
earlier forms of ethnic and national conflict. In most cases,
ethno-national conflict seems to owe itself to conflict over land and
strategic resources. In some cases, ethnicity and nationalism were
harnessed in order to rally combatants in wars between great religious
empires (for example, the
Muslim Turks and the Catholic
Austro-Hungarians). A mass grave being dug for frozen bodies from
Wounded Knee Massacre , in which the U.S. Army killed 150
Lakota people , marking the end of the
American Indian Wars
American Indian Wars .
Notions of race and racism have often played central roles in ethnic
conflicts . Throughout history, when an adversary is identified as
"other" based on notions of race or ethnicity (in particular when
"other" is construed to mean "inferior"), the means employed by the
self-presumed "superior" party to appropriate territory, human
chattel, or material wealth often have been more ruthless, more
brutal, and less constrained by moral or ethical considerations.
According to historian Daniel Richter, Pontiac\'s Rebellion saw the
emergence on both sides of the conflict of "the novel idea that all
Native people were 'Indians,' that all Euro-Americans were 'Whites,'
and that all on one side must unite to destroy the other." Basil
Davidson states in his documentary, _Africa: Different but Equal_,
that racism, in fact, only just recently surfaced—as late as the
19th century, due to the need for a justification for slavery in the
Historically, racism was a major driving force behind the
Transatlantic slave trade . It was also a major force behind racial
segregation , especially in the
United States in the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries and South
Africa under apartheid ; 19th and
20th century racism in
Western world is particularly well documented
and constitutes a reference point in studies and discourses about
Racism has played a role in genocides such as the Armenian
genocide , and The
Holocaust , and colonial projects like the European
colonization of the
Africa , and
Asia . Indigenous peoples
have been –and are– often subject to racist attitudes. Practices
and ideologies of racism are condemned by the
United Nations in the
Declaration of Human Rights .
Ethnic nationalism and
Romantic nationalism _
Eugène Delacroix 's Scene of the massacre at Chios _ (1824); Greek
families awaiting death or slavery
Napoleonic Wars ,
Europe was confronted with the new
"nationalities question," leading to reconfigurations of the European
map, on which the frontiers between the states had been delineated
during the 1648
Peace of Westphalia .
Nationalism had made its first
appearance with the invention of the _levée en masse _ by the French
revolutionaries , thus inventing mass conscription in order to be able
to defend the newly founded Republic against the _
Ancien Régime _
order represented by the European monarchies. This led to the French
Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802) and then to the Napoleonic conquests,
and to the subsequent European-wide debates on the concepts and
realities of nations , and in particular of nation-states . The
Westphalia Treaty had divided
Europe into various empires and kingdoms
Ottoman Empire ,
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire ,
Swedish Empire , Kingdom of
France , etc.), and for centuries wars were waged between princes
Kabinettskriege _ in German).
Modern nation-states appeared in the wake of the French Revolution,
with the formation of patriotic sentiments for the first time in Spain
Peninsula War (1808–1813, known in Spain as the
Independence War). Despite the restoration of the previous order with
Congress of Vienna , the "nationalities question" became the
main problem of
Europe during the
Industrial Era , leading in
particular to the
1848 Revolutions , the
Italian unification completed
during the 1871
Franco-Prussian War , which itself culminated in the
proclamation of the
German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace
of Versailles , thus achieving the
German unification .
Ottoman Empire , the "sick man of
Europe ", was
confronted with endless nationalist movements, which, along with the
dissolving of the
Austrian-Hungarian Empire , would lead to the
World War I
World War I of the various nation-states of the Balkans
, with "national minorities " in their borders.
Ethnic nationalism ,
which advocated the belief in a hereditary membership of the nation,
made its appearance in the historical context surrounding the creation
of the modern nation-states.
One of its main influences was the
Romantic nationalist movement at
the turn of the 19th century, represented by figures such as Johann
Herder (1744–1803), Johan Fichte (1762–1814) in the _Addresses to
the German Nation_ (1808),
Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831), or also, in
Jules Michelet (1798–1874). It was opposed to liberal
nationalism , represented by authors such as Ernest Renan
(1823–1892), who conceived of the nation as a community, which,
instead of being based on the _
Volk _ ethnic group and on a specific,
common language, was founded on the subjective will to live together
("the nation is a daily plebiscite ", 1882) or also John Stuart Mill
Ethnic nationalism blended with scientific racist
discourses, as well as with "continental imperialist " (Hannah Arendt
, 1951 ) discourses, for example in the pan-Germanism discourses,
which postulated the racial superiority of the German _
(people/folk). The Pan-German League (_Alldeutscher Verband_), created
in 1891, promoted German imperialism , "racial hygiene " and was
opposed to intermarriage with
Jews . Another popular current, the
Völkisch movement _, was also an important proponent of the German
ethnic nationalist discourse, and it combined
modern racial antisemitism . Members of the Völkisch movement, in
particular the Thule
Society , would participate in the founding of
the German Workers\' Party (DAP) in Munich in 1918, the predecessor of
NSDAP Nazi party.
Pan-Germanism and played a decisive role in the
interwar period of the 1920s–1930s.
These currents began to associate the idea of the nation with the
biological concept of a "master race " (often the "
Aryan race " or the
Nordic race ") issued from the scientific racist discourse. They
conflated nationalities with ethnic groups, called "races", in a
radical distinction from previous racial discourses that posited the
existence of a "race struggle" inside the nation and the state itself.
Furthermore, they believed that political boundaries should mirror
these alleged racial and ethnic groups, thus justifying ethnic
cleansing in order to achieve "racial purity" and also to achieve
ethnic homogeneity in the nation-state.
Such racist discourses, combined with nationalism, were not, however,
limited to pan-Germanism. In France, the transition from Republican,
liberal nationalism, to ethnic nationalism, which made nationalism a
characteristic of far-right movements in
France , took place during
Dreyfus Affair at the end of the 19th century. During several
years, a nationwide crisis affected French society, concerning the
alleged treason of
Alfred Dreyfus , a French Jewish military officer.
The country polarized itself into two opposite camps, one represented
Émile Zola , who wrote _J\'accuse _ in defense of Alfred Dreyfus,
and the other represented by the nationalist poet, Maurice Barrès
(1862–1923), one of the founders of the ethnic nationalist discourse
in France. At the same time,
Charles Maurras (1868–1952), founder
of the monarchist _
Action française _ movement, theorized the
"anti-France," composed of the "four confederate states of
Protestants, Jews, Freemasons and foreigners" (his actual word for the
latter being the pejorative _métèques _). Indeed, to him the first
three were all "internal foreigners", who threatened the ethnic unity
French people .
ETHNOCENTRISM AND PROTO-RACISM
In some interpretations of the biblical story of
his descendants were cursed with black skin
Bernard Lewis has cited the Greek philosopher
Aristotle who, in his
discussion of slavery , stated that while
Greeks are free by nature,
'barbarians ' (non-Greeks) are slaves by nature, in that it is in
their nature to be more willing to submit to despotic government.
Aristotle does not specify any particular races, he argues that
people from outside Greece are more prone to the burden of slavery
than those from Greece . While
Aristotle makes remarks about the most
natural slaves being those with strong bodies and slave souls (unfit
for rule, unintelligent) which would seem to imply a physical basis
for discrimination, he also explicitly states that the right kind of
souls and bodies don't always go together, implying that the greatest
determinate for inferiority and natural slaves versus natural masters
is the soul, not the body. This proto-racism is seen as an important
precursor to modern racism by classicist
Benjamin Isaac .
13th-century slave market in
Yemen officially abolished
slavery in 1962.
Bernard Lewis has also cited historians and geographers of the Middle
East and North
Africa region, including
Abu Rayhan Biruni ,
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi , and Ibn
Qutaybah . Though the Qur\'an expresses no racial prejudice,
ethnocentric prejudice later developed among
Arabs for a variety of
reasons: their extensive conquests and slave trade ; the influence of
Aristotelian ideas regarding slavery, which some
Zanj (Bantu ) and
Turkic peoples ; and the
Judeo-Christian ideas regarding divisions among
humankind. In response to such views, the Afro-
himself having a
Zanj grandfather, wrote a book entitled _Superiority
Of The Blacks To The Whites_, and explained why the
Zanj were black
in terms of environmental determinism in the "On the Zanj" chapter of
_The Essays_. By the 14th century, a significant number of slaves
came from sub-Saharan
Africa , leading to the likes of Egyptian
historian Al-Abshibi (1388–1446) writing: "It is said that when the
slave is sated, he fornicates, when he is hungry, he steals." In the
14th century, the Tunisian scholar
Ibn Khaldun wrote:
...beyond to the south there is no civilization in the proper sense.
There are only humans who are closer to dumb animals than to rational
beings. They live in thickets and caves, and eat herbs and unprepared
grain. They frequently eat each other. They cannot be considered human
beings. Therefore, the Negro nations are, as a rule, submissive to
slavery, because (Negroes) have little that is (essentially) human and
possess attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals, as
we have stated.
Such proto-racism and ethnocentrism must be looked at within context,
because a modern understanding of racism based on hereditary
inferiority (modern racism based on: eugenics and scientific racism)
was not yet developed and it is unclear whether
Aristotle believed the
natural inferiority of Barbarians was caused by environment and
climate (like many of his contemporaries) or by birth.
Historian Dante A. Puzzo, in his discussion of Aristotle, racism, and
the ancient world writes that:
Racism rests on two basic assumptions: that a correlation exists
between physical characteristics and moral qualities; that mankind is
divisible into superior and inferior stocks. Racism, thus defined, is
a modern conception, for prior to the XVIth century there was
virtually nothing in the life and thought of the West that can be
described as racist. To prevent misunderstanding a clear distinction
must be made between racism and ethnocentrism ... The Ancient Hebrews
, in referring to all who were not
Hebrews as Gentiles , were
indulging in ethnocentrism , not in racism. ... So it was with the
Hellenes who denominated all non-Hellenes—whether the wild Scythians
Egyptians whom they acknowledged as their mentors in the arts
of civilization —Barbarians, the term denoting that which was
strange or foreign.
_LIMPIEZA DE SANGRE_
Limpieza de sangre
The Umayyad Caliphate invaded Hispania , with
Muslim Berber invaders
overthrowing the previous Visigothic rulers and creating
which contributed to the Golden age of Jewish culture , lasting for
six centuries. It was followed by the centuries-long _
terminated under the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand V and Isabella I .
The legacy Catholic Spaniards then formulated the _Cleanliness of
blood _ doctrine. It was during this time in history that the Western
concept of aristocratic "blue blood " emerged in a racialized,
religious and feudal context, so as to stem the upward social
mobility of the converted New Christians . Robert Lacey explains:
It was the Spaniards who gave the world the notion that an
aristocrat's blood is not red but blue. The Spanish nobility started
taking shape around the ninth century in classic military fashion,
occupying land as warriors on horseback. They were to continue the
process for more than five hundred years, clawing back sections of the
peninsula from its Moorish occupiers, and a nobleman demonstrated his
pedigree by holding up his sword arm to display the filigree of
blue-blooded veins beneath his pale skin—proof that his birth had
not been contaminated by the dark-skinned enemy. Sangre azul, blue
blood, was thus a euphemism for being a white man—Spain's own
particular reminder that the refined footsteps of the aristocracy
through history carry the rather less refined spoor of racism.
Following the expulsion of the
Moors and most of the Sephardic
Jews from the
Iberian peninsula , the remaining
Jews and Muslims were
forced to convert to Roman Catholicism, becoming "New Christians ",
who were sometimes discriminated by the "Old Christians " in some
cities (e.g. Toledo ), despite condemnations by the Church and the
State, who were welcoming the new flock.
Inquisition was carried out
by members of the
Dominican Order in order to weed out the converts
that still practiced
Islam in secret. The system and
ideology of the _limpieza de sangre_ ostracized false Christian
converts from society to protect it against treason. The remnants of
such legislation persevered into the 19th century in military
Portugal , the legal distinction between New and
Old Christian was
only ended through a legal decree issued by the
Marquis of Pombal in
1772, almost three centuries after the implementation of the racist
discrimination. The _limpieza de sangre_ legislation was common also
during the colonization of the
Americas , where it led to the racial
and feudal separation of peoples and social strata in the colonies. It
was however often ignored in practice, as the new colonies needed
skilled people. _ A 16th-century illustration by Flemish
Theodor de Bry
Theodor de Bry for Las Casas's Brevisima relación de la
destrucción de las Indias_, depicting Spanish atrocities during the
At the end of the Renaissance , the
Valladolid debate (1550–1551)
concerning the treatment of natives of the "
New World " opposed the
Dominican friar and Bishop of Chiapas
Bartolomé de Las Casas to
another Dominican and Humanist philosopher
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda .
The latter argued that the Indians practiced human sacrifice of
innocents, cannibalism , and other such "crimes against nature" were
unacceptable and should be suppressed by any means possible including
war, thus reducing them to slavery or serfdom was in accordance with
Catholic theology and natural law . To the contrary, Bartolomé de Las
Casas argued that the Amerindians were free men in the natural order
and deserved the same treatment as others, according to Catholic
theology . It was one of the many controversies concerning racism,
slavery, religion, and European morality that would arise in the
following centuries and which resulted in the legislation protecting
Although antisemitism has a long history, related to
e.g. native Egyptian or Greek religions (anti-
Judaism ), racism
itself is sometimes described as a _modern_ phenomenon. In the view of
the French philosopher and historian
Michel Foucault , the first
formulation of racism emerged in the Early Modern period as the
"discourse of race struggle", a historical and political discourse,
which Foucault opposed to the philosophical and juridical discourse of
sovereignty . On the other hand, e.g. Chinese self-identification as
a "yellow race" predated such European racial concepts.
This European analysis, which first appeared in Great Britain , was
then carried on in
France by people such as Boulainvilliers , Nicolas
Fréret , and then, during the 1789
French Revolution , Sieyès , and
Augustin Thierry and Cournot . Boulainvilliers, who created
the matrix of such racist discourse in medieval France, conceived of
the "race" as being something closer to the sense of a "nation", that
is, in his time, the "race" meant the "people".
He conceived of
France as being divided between various nations—the
unified nation-state is, of course, here an anachronism —which
themselves formed different "races". Boulainvilliers opposed the
absolute monarchy , which tried to bypass the aristocracy by
establishing a direct relationship to the Third Estate . Thus, he
developed the theory that the French aristocrats were the descendants
of foreign invaders, whom he called the "
Franks ", while according to
him, the Third Estate constituted the autochthonous, vanquished
Gallo-Romans , who were dominated by the Frankish aristocracy as a
consequence of the right of conquest . Early modern racism was opposed
to nationalism and the nation-state: the Comte de Montlosier , in
exile during the
French Revolution , who borrowed Boulainvilliers'
discourse on the "Nordic race" as being the French aristocracy that
invaded the plebeian "Gauls", thus showed his contempt for the Third
Estate, calling it "this new people born of slaves ... mixture of all
races and of all times ".
Advertisement for Pears\' Soap Caption reads, "Matchless for the
complexion..." Illustration of 'before and after' use of soap by black
child in the bath. Showing soap washes off his dark complexion.
While 19th century racism became closely intertwined with
nationalism, leading to the ethnic nationalist discourse that
identified the "race" with the "folk ", leading to such movements as
pan-Germanism , pan-Turkism , pan-Arabism , and pan-Slavism , medieval
racism precisely divided the nation into various non-biological
"races", which were thought to be the consequence of historical
conquests and social conflicts .
Michel Foucault traced the genealogy
of modern racism to this medieval "historical and political discourse
of race struggle". According to him, it divided itself in the 19th
century according to two rival lines: on one hand, it was incorporated
by racists, biologists and eugenicists , who gave it the modern sense
of "race" and, even more, transformed this popular discourse into a
"state racism " (e.g., Nazism). On the other hand, Marxism also seized
this discourse founded on the assumption of a political struggle that
provided the real engine of history and continued to act underneath
the apparent peace. Thus,
Marxists transformed the essentialist notion
of "race" into the historical notion of "class struggle ", defined by
socially structured positions: capitalist or proletarian. In _The Will
to Knowledge _ (1976), Foucault analyzed another opponent of the "race
Sigmund Freud 's psychoanalysis , which opposed
the concept of "blood heredity ", prevalent in the 19th century racist
Authors such as
Hannah Arendt , in her 1951 book _The Origins of
Totalitarianism _, have said that the racist ideology (_popular
racism_) which developed at the end of the 19th century helped
legitimize the imperialist conquests of foreign territories and the
atrocities that sometimes accompanied them (such as the Herero and
Genocide of 1904–1907 or the Armenian
Rudyard Kipling 's poem _The White Man\'s Burden _
(1899) is one of the more famous illustrations of the belief in the
inherent superiority of the European culture over the rest of the
world, though it is also thought to be a satirical appraisal of such
imperialism. Racist ideology thus helped legitimize the conquest and
incorporation of foreign territories into an empire, which were
regarded as a humanitarian obligation partially as a result of these
racist beliefs. _ A late-19th-century illustration from Ireland
from One or Two Neglected Points of View_ by H. Strickland Constable
shows an alleged similarity between "Irish Iberian" and "Negro"
features in contrast to the "higher" "Anglo-Teutonic."
However, during the 19th century, Western European colonial powers
were involved in the suppression of the
Arab slave trade in Africa,
as well as in the suppression of the slave trade in West
Some Europeans during the time period objected to injustices that
occurred in some colonies and lobbied on behalf of aboriginal peoples
. Thus, when the Hottentot Venus was displayed in England in the
beginning of the 19th century, the African Association publicly
opposed itself to the exhibition. The same year that Kipling published
Joseph Conrad published _
Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness _ (1899), a clear
criticism of the
Congo Free State
Congo Free State owned by
Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II of Belgium .
Examples of racial theories used include the creation of the Hamitic
ethno-linguistic group during the European exploration of
Africa . It
was then restricted by
Karl Friedrich Lepsius (1810–1877) to
Afro-Asiatic languages .
The term _Hamite_ was applied to different populations within North
Africa, mainly comprising Ethiopians , Eritreans , Somalis ,
and the ancient
Egyptians . Hamites were regarded as Caucasoid peoples
who probably originated in either
Asia on the basis of their
cultural, physical and linguistic similarities with the peoples of
those areas. Europeans considered Hamites to be more civilized than
Sub-Saharan Africans , and more akin to themselves and Semitic peoples
. In the first two-thirds of the 20th century, the
Hamitic race was,
in fact, considered one of the branches of the
Caucasian race , along
with the Indo-Europeans , Semites , and the
Mediterranean race .
Hamitic peoples themselves were often deemed to have
failed as rulers, which was usually ascribed to interbreeding with
Negroes. In the mid-20th century, the German scholar Carl Meinhof
(1857–1944) claimed that the Bantu race was formed by a merger of
Hamitic and Negro races. The Hottentots (Nama or
Khoi ) were formed by
the merger of
Bushmen (San) races—both being termed
Khoisan peoples. One in a series of posters attacking
Radical Republicans on the issue of black suffrage, issued during the
Pennsylvania gubernatorial election of 1866 .
United States in the early 19th century, the American
Society was established as the primary vehicle for
proposals to return black Americans to greater freedom and equality in
Africa. The colonization effort resulted from a mixture of motives
with its founder
Henry Clay stating; "unconquerable prejudice
resulting from their color, they never could amalgamate with the free
whites of this country. It was desirable, therefore, as it respected
them, and the residue of the population of the country, to drain them
Racism spread throughout the
New World in the late 19th century
and early 20th century.
Whitecapping , which started in Indiana in the
late 19th century, soon spread throughout all of North America,
causing many African laborers to flee from the land they worked on. In
the US during the 1860s, racist posters were used during election
campaigns. In one of these racist posters (see above), a black man is
depicted lounging idly in the foreground as one white man ploughs his
field and another chops wood. Accompanying labels are: "In the sweat
of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread," and "The white man must work to
keep his children and pay his taxes." The black man wonders, "Whar is
de use for me to work as long as dey make dese appropriations." Above
in a cloud is an image of the "Freedman's Bureau! Negro Estimate of
Freedom!" The bureau is pictured as a large domed building resembling
the U.S. Capitol and is inscribed "Freedom and No Work." Its columns
and walls are labeled, "Candy," "Rum, Gin, Whiskey," "Sugar Plums,"
"Indolence," "White Women," "Apathy," "White Sugar," "Idleness," and
On June 5, 1873, Sir
Francis Galton , distinguished English explorer
and cousin of Charles Darwin, wrote in a letter to _
The Times _:
My proposal is to make the encouragement of Chinese settlements of
Africa a part of our national policy, in the belief that the Chinese
immigrants would not only maintain their position, but that they would
multiply and their descendants supplant the inferior Negro race ... I
should expect that the African seaboard, now sparsely occupied by
lazy, palavering savages, might in a few years be tenanted by
industrious, order-loving Chinese, living either as a semidetached
dependency of China, or else in perfect freedom under their own law.
Racial policy of Nazi Germany ,
Racial segregation in the
United States , and Rwandan
Eichmann 's list of the Jewish population in Europe, drafted for the
Wannsee Conference , held to ensure the cooperation of various levels
of the Nazi government in the
Final Solution . A drinking
fountain from the mid-20th century labelled "Colored" with a picture
African-American man drinking
The Nazi party, which seized power in the 1933 German elections and
maintained a dictatorship over much of
Europe until the End of World
War II on the European continent , deemed the
Germans to be part of an
Aryan "master race " (_Herrenvolk_), who therefore had the right to
expand their territory and enslave or kill members of other races
The racial ideology conceived by the Nazis graded humans on a scale
Aryan to non-Aryan, with the latter viewed as subhuman. At the
top of the scale of pure Aryans were
Germans and other Germanic
peoples including the Dutch , Scandinavians , and the English as well
as other peoples such as some northern Italians and the French who
were said to have a suitable admixture of Germanic blood. Nazi
Romani people , people of color and
Russians ) as inferior non-
Aryan subhumans. Jews
were at the bottom of the hierarchy, considered inhuman and thus
unworthy of life . In accordance with Nazi racial ideology,
approximately six million
Jews were killed in the
Holocaust . 2.5
Poles , 0.5 million ethnic
Serbs and 0.22–0.5 million
Romani were killed by the regime and its collaborators.
The Nazis considered most
Slavs to be Non-
Slavic nations such as the Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks, Bulgarians and
Croats who collaborated with
Nazi Germany were perceived as ethnically
superior to other Slavs, mostly due to pseudoscientific theories about
these nations having a considerable admixture of Germanic blood. In
the secret plan
Generalplan Ost ("Master Plan East") the Nazis
resolved to expel, enslave, or exterminate most Slavic people to
provide "living space" for Germans, however Nazi policy towards Slavs
World War II
World War II due to manpower shortages which
necessitated limited Slavic participation in the Waffen-SS.
Significant war crimes were committed against Slavs, particularly
Poles , and Soviet POWs had a far higher mortality rate than their
American and British counterparts due to deliberate neglect and
White supremacy was dominant in the U.S. up to the civil rights
movement. On the U.S. immigration laws prior to 1965, sociologist
Stephen Klineberg cited the law as clearly declaring "that Northern
Europeans are a superior subspecies of the white race." While
anti-Asian racism was embedded in U.S. politics and culture in the
early 20th century, Indians were also racialized for their
anticolonialism, with U.S. officials, casting them as a "Hindu"
menace, pushing for Western imperial expansion abroad. The
Naturalization Act of 1790 limited U.S. citizenship to whites only,
and in the 1923 case, _
United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind _, the
Supreme Court ruled that high caste Hindus were not "white persons"
and were therefore racially ineligible for naturalized citizenship.
It was after the
Luce–Celler Act of 1946 that a quota of 100 Indians
per year could immigrate to the U.S. and become citizens. The
Nationality Act of 1965 dramatically opened entry to
the U.S. to immigrants other than traditional
Northern European and
Germanic groups , and as a result would significantly alter the
demographic mix in the U.S. A sign posted above a bar that reads
"No beer sold to Indians ". Birney ,
Montana , 1941.
Serious race riots in
Durban between Indians and
Zulus erupted in
Ne Win 's rise to power in
Burma in 1962 and his relentless
persecution of "resident aliens" led to an exodus of some 300,000
Burmese Indians . They migrated to escape racial discrimination and
wholesale nationalisation of private enterprise a few years later in
Zanzibar Revolution of January 12, 1964 put an end to the
Arab dynasty. Thousands of
Arabs and Indians in
massacred in riots, and thousands more were detained or fled the
island. On 4 August 1972,
Idi Amin , President of Uganda, ethnically
cleansed Uganda\'s Asians giving them 90 days to leave the country.
World War II
World War II the South African National Party took
control of the government in South
Africa . Between 1948 and 1994, the
Apartheid regime took place. This regime based its ideology on the
racial separation of whites and non-whites including the unequal
rights of non-whites. Several protests and violence occurred during
the struggle against
Apartheid , the most famous of these include the
Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, the
Soweto uprising in 1976, the Church
Street bombing of 1983 and the
Cape Town peace march of 1989.
On 12 September 2011,
Julius Malema , the youth leader of South
Africa's ruling ANC , was found guilty of hate speech for singing
'Shoot the Boer ' at a number of public events.
During the Congo Civil War (1998–2003),
Pygmies were hunted down
like game animals and eaten. Both sides in the war regarded them as
"subhuman" and some say their flesh can confer magical powers. UN
human rights activists reported in 2003 that rebels had carried out
acts of cannibalism . Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of the Mbuti
pygmies, has asked the
UN Security Council
UN Security Council to recognise cannibalism as
both a crime against humanity and an act of genocide . A report
released by the
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Botswana 's treatment of the '
Bushmen ' as
racist. In 2008, the tribunal of the 15-nation Southern African
Development Community (SADC) accused Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe of having a racist attitude towards white people.
The mass demonstrations and riots against African students in Nanjing
, China , lasted from December 1988 to January 1989. Bar owners in
Beijing had been forced by the police "not to serve black
people or Mongolians" during the
2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics , as the police
associates these ethnic groups with illegal prostitution and drug
trafficking . In November 2009, British newspaper _
The Guardian _
Lou Jing , of mixed Chinese and African parentage, had
emerged as the most famous talent show contestant in China and has
become the subject of intense debate because of her skin color. Her
attention in the media opened serious debates about racism in China
and racial prejudice.
Latin America , light skin is seen as more attractive.
Thus, skin whitening cosmetic products are popular in East
India . Some activists, most prominently at the UN conference at
Durban , have asserted that the caste system in
India is a form of
racial discrimination, although many prominent scholars debunk this
viewpoint as "scientifically nonsense ", since there are no
consistent racial differences between the different castes in India.
These activists utilize genetic studies that claim to corroborate
their view, although other more detailed studies have challenged
these assertions as overtly simplistic Currently, there are
approximately 165 million Dalits (formerly known as "untouchables") in
Some 70,000 black African Mauritanians were expelled from Mauritania
in the late 1980s. In the
Sudan , black African captives in the civil
war were often enslaved , and female prisoners were often sexually
Darfur conflict has been described by some as a racial
matter. In October 2006,
Niger announced that it would deport the
Arabs living in the
Diffa region of eastern
Chad . This
population numbered about 150,000. While the Government collected
Arabs in preparation for the deportation , two girls died, reportedly
after fleeing Government forces, and three women suffered
miscarriages. The burnt out remains of Govinda's Indian
Fiji , May 2000
Jakarta riots of May 1998 targeted many Chinese Indonesians .
The anti-Chinese legislation was in the Indonesian constitution until
1998. Resentment against Chinese workers has led to violent
Africa and Oceania. Anti-Chinese rioting,
involving tens of thousands of people, broke out in Papua New Guinea
in May 2009. Indo-Fijians suffered violent attacks after the Fiji
coup of 2000 . Non-indigenous citizens of
Fiji are subject to
discrimination. Racial divisions also exist in
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago ,
Madagascar , or South Africa.
Elements within Israeli society have been accused of discriminatory
behavior towards Ethiopian
Jews and other non-white
Accusations of racism range from birth control policies, education,
and housing discrimination.
One form of racism in the
United States was enforced racial
segregation which existed until the 1960s when it was outlawed in the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 . It has been argued that this separation of
races continues to exist _de facto_ today . The causes of segregation
vary from lack of access to loans and resources to discrimination in
Scientific racism _ Drawings from Josiah C. Nott
George Gliddon 's Indigenous races of the earth_ (1857), which
suggested black people ranked between white people and chimpanzees in
terms of intelligence.
Scottish philosopher and economist
David Hume said, "I am apt to
suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There
scarcely ever was a civilised nation of that complexion, nor even any
individual, eminent either in action or in speculation. No ingenious
manufacture among them, no arts, no sciences." German philosopher
Immanuel Kant stated: "The yellow Indians do have a meagre talent. The
Negroes are far below them, and at the lowest point are a part of the
In the 19th century, the German philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
Hegel , declared that "
Africa is no historical part of the world."
Hegel further claimed that blacks had no "sense of personality; their
spirit sleeps, remains sunk in itself, makes no advance, and thus
parallels the compact, undifferentiated mass of the African
While opposed to slavery in the U.S, in 1858 President Abraham
Lincoln stated, "I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing
about in any way the social and political equality of the white and
black races, that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making
voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office,
nor to intermarry with white people. I as much as any man am in favor
of the superior position assigned to the white race".
Otto Weininger , claimed: "A genius has perhaps
scarcely ever appeared amongst the negroes, and the standard of their
morality is almost universally so low that it is beginning to be
acknowledged in America that their emancipation was an act of
The German conservative,
Oswald Spengler , remarked on what he
perceived as the culturally degrading influence of Africans in modern
Western culture: in _The Hour of Decision_ Spengler denounced "the
'happy ending' of an empty existence, the boredom of which has brought
to jazz music and Negro dancing to perform the Death March for a great
Culture." During the Nazi era, German scientists rearranged academia
to support claims of a grand "Aryan" agent behind the splendors of all
human civilizations, including
India and Ancient Egypt.
The modern biological definition of race developed in the 19th
century with scientific racist theories. The term _scientific racism_
refers to the use of science to justify and support racist beliefs,
which goes back to the early 18th century, though it gained most of
its influence in the mid-19th century, during the New Imperialism
period. Also known as academic racism, such theories first needed to
overcome the Church 's resistance to positivist accounts of history
and its support of monogenism , the concept that all human beings were
originated from the same ancestors, in accordance with creationist
accounts of history.
These racist theories put forth on scientific hypothesis were
combined with unilineal theories of social progress , which postulated
the superiority of the European civilization over the rest of the
world. Furthermore, they frequently made use of the idea of "survival
of the fittest ", a term coined by
Herbert Spencer in 1864, associated
with ideas of competition, which were named social
Darwinism in the
Charles Darwin himself opposed the idea of rigid racial
differences in _
The Descent of Man
The Descent of Man _ (1871) in which he argued that
humans were all of one species, sharing common descent. He recognised
racial differences as varieties of humanity, and emphasised the close
similarities between people of all races in mental faculties, tastes,
dispositions and habits, while still contrasting the culture of the
"lowest savages" with European civilization.
At the end of the 19th century, proponents of scientific racism
intertwined themselves with eugenics discourses of "degeneration of
the race" and "blood heredity ." Henceforth, scientific racist
discourses could be defined as the combination of polygenism,
Darwinism and eugenism. They found their
scientific legitimacy on physical anthropology , anthropometry ,
craniometry , phrenology , physiognomy , and others now discredited
disciplines in order to formulate racist prejudices.
Before being disqualified in the 20th century by the American school
of cultural anthropology (
Franz Boas , etc.), the British school of
social anthropology (
Bronisław Malinowski ,
Alfred Radcliffe-Brown ,
etc.), the French school of ethnology (
Claude Lévi-Strauss , etc.),
as well as the discovery of the neo-Darwinian synthesis , such
sciences, in particular anthropometry, were used to deduce behaviours
and psychological characteristics from outward, physical appearances.
The neo-Darwinian synthesis, first developed in the 1930s, eventually
led to a gene-centered view of evolution in the 1960s. According to
Human Genome Project , the most complete mapping of human DNA to
date indicates that there is no clear genetic basis to racial groups .
While some genes are more common in certain populations, there are no
genes that exist in all members of one population and no members of
Heredity And Eugenics
The first theory of eugenics was developed in 1869 by Francis Galton
(1822–1911), who used the then popular concept of _degeneration _.
He applied statistics to study human differences and the alleged
"inheritance of intelligence ", foreshadowing future uses of
"intelligence testing " by the anthropometry school. Such theories
were vividly described by the writer
Émile Zola (1840–1902), who
started publishing in 1871 a twenty-novel cycle, _Les Rougon-Macquart
_, where he linked heredity to behavior. Thus, Zola described the
high-born Rougons as those involved in politics (_Son Excellence
Eugène Rougon _) and medicine (_
Le Docteur Pascal _) and the low-born
Macquarts as those fatally falling into alcoholism (_L\'Assommoir _),
prostitution (_Nana _), and homicide (_
La Bête humaine _).
During the rise of
Nazism in Germany , some scientists in Western
nations worked to debunk the regime's racial theories. A few argued
against racist ideologies and discrimination, even if they believed in
the alleged existence of biological races. However, in the fields of
anthropology and biology, these were minority positions until the
mid-20th century. According to the 1950
UNESCO statement, _The Race
Question _, an international project to debunk racist theories had
been attempted in the mid-1930s. However, this project had been
abandoned. Thus, in 1950,
UNESCO declared that it had resumed:
...up again, after a lapse of fifteen years, a project that the
International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation
International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation has wished to
carry through but that it had to abandon in deference to the
appeasement policy of the pre-war period. The race question had become
one of the pivots of
Nazi ideology and policy. Masaryk and Beneš took
the initiative of calling for a conference to re-establish in the
minds and consciences of men everywhere the truth about race ... Nazi
propaganda was able to continue its baleful work unopposed by the
authority of an international organisation.
The Third Reich\'s racial policies , its eugenics programs and the
Jews in the
Holocaust , as well as
Romani people in
Porrajmos (the Romani
Holocaust ) and others minorities led to a
change in opinions about scientific research into race after the war.
Changes within scientific disciplines, such as the rise of the Boasian
school of anthropology in the
United States contributed to this shift.
These theories were strongly denounced in the 1950
signed by internationally renowned scholars, and titled _The Race
Polygenism And Racial Typologies
Madison Grant's map, from 1916, charting the "present distribution of
European races", with the Nordics in red, the Alpines in green, and
the Mediterraneans in yellow.
Works such as
Arthur de Gobineau
Arthur de Gobineau 's _An Essay on the Inequality of
the Human Races _ (1853–1855) may be considered as one of the first
theorizations of this new racism, founded on an essentialist notion of
race, which opposed the former racial discourse, of Boulainvilliers
for example, which saw in races a fundamentally historical reality,
which changed over time. Gobineau, thus, attempted to frame racism
within the terms of biological differences among humans, giving it the
legitimacy of biology .
Gobineau's theories would be expanded, in France, by Georges Vacher
de Lapouge (1854–1936)'s typology of races , who published in 1899
Aryan and his Social Role_, in which he claimed that the white,
Aryan race", "dolichocephalic ", was opposed to the "brachycephalic"
race, of whom the "
Jew " was the archetype. Vacher de Lapouge thus
created a hierarchical classification of races, in which he identified
the "_Homo europaeus _ (Teutonic, Protestant, etc.), the "_Homo
alpinus _" (Auvergnat , Turkish , etc.), and finally the "_Homo
mediterraneus _" (Neapolitan , Andalus , etc.) He assimilated races
and social classes , considering that the French upper class was a
representation of the _Homo europaeus_, while the lower class
represented the _Homo alpinus_. Applying Galton's eugenics to his
theory of races, Vacher de Lapouge's "selectionism" aimed first at
achieving the annihilation of trade unionists , considered to be a
"degenerate"; second, creating types of man each destined to one end,
in order to prevent any contestation of labour conditions . His
"anthroposociology" thus aimed at blocking social conflict by
establishing a fixed, hierarchical social order.
The same year,
William Z. Ripley
William Z. Ripley used identical racial classification
in _The Races of
Europe _ (1899), which would have a great influence
in the United States.
Other scientific authors include H.S.
Chamberlain at the end of the 19th century (a British citizen who
naturalized himself as German because of his admiration for the "Aryan
Madison Grant , a eugenicist and author of _The Passing of
the Great Race _ (1916).
Madison Grant provided statistics for the
Immigration Act of 1924 , which severely restricted immigration of
Slavs , and southern Europeans, who were subsequently hindered
in seeking to escape Nazi Germany.
_ A human zoo (Völkerschau_, "People Show") in Stuttgart
(Germany) in 1928
Human zoos (called "People Shows"), were an important means of
bolstering _popular racism_ by connecting it to scientific racism:
they were both objects of public curiosity and of anthropology and
Joice Heth , an
African American slave, was
displayed by P.T. Barnum in 1836, a few years after the exhibition of
Saartjie Baartman , the "Hottentot Venus", in England. Such
exhibitions became common in the New
Imperialism period, and remained
so until World War II.
Carl Hagenbeck , inventor of the modern zoos,
exhibited animals beside humans who were considered "savages".
Ota Benga was displayed in 1906 by eugenicist Madison
Grant , head of the
Bronx Zoo , as an attempt to illustrate the
"missing link" between humans and orangutans : thus, racism was tied
Darwinism , creating a social Darwinist ideology that tried to
ground itself in Darwin 's scientific discoveries. The 1931 Paris
Colonial Exhibition displayed
New Caledonia . A
"Congolese village" was on display as late as 1958 at the Brussels\'
World Fair .
THEORIES ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF RACISM
Ethnocentrism See also:
Tribalism Sociological model
of ethnic and racial conflict.
John Tooby and
Leda Cosmides were puzzled
by the fact that in the US race is one of the three characteristics
most often used in brief descriptions of individuals (the others are
age and sex). They reasoned that natural selection would not have
favoured the evolution of an instinct for using race as a
classification, because for most of human history, humans almost never
encountered members of other races. Tooby and Cosmides hypothesized
that modern people use race as a proxy (rough-and-ready indicator) for
coalition membership, since a better-than-random guess about "which
side" another person is on will be helpful if one does not actually
know in advance.
Robert Kurzban designed an experiment whose results
appeared to support this hypothesis. Using the Memory confusion
protocol , they presented subjects with pictures of individuals and
sentences, allegedly spoken by these individuals, which presented two
sides of a debate. The errors that the subjects made in recalling who
said what indicated that they sometimes misattributed a statement to a
speaker of the same race as the "correct" speaker, although they also
sometimes misattributed a statement to a speaker "on the same side" as
the "correct" speaker. In a second run of the experiment, the team
also distinguished the "sides" in the debate by clothing of similar
colors; and in this case the effect of racial similarity in causing
mistakes almost vanished, being replaced by the color of their
clothing. In other words, the first group of subjects, with no clues
from clothing, used race as a visual guide to guessing who was on
which side of the debate; the second group of subjects used the
clothing color as their main visual clue, and the effect of race
became very small.
Some research suggests that ethnocentric thinking may have actually
contributed to the development of cooperation. Political scientists
Ross Hammond and Robert Axelrod created a computer simulation wherein
virtual individuals were randomly assigned one of a variety of skin
colors, and then one of a variety of trading strategies: be
color-blind, favor those of your own color, or favor those of other
colors. They found that the ethnocentric individuals clustered
together, then grew until all the non-ethnocentric individuals were
The Selfish Gene _, evolutionary biologist
Richard Dawkins writes
that "Blood-feuds and inter-clan warfare are easily interpretable in
terms of Hamilton 's genetic theory ." Dawkins writes that racial
prejudice, while not evolutionarily adaptive, "could be interpreted as
an irrational generalization of a kin-selected tendency to identify
with individuals physically resembling oneself, and to be nasty to
individuals different in appearance". Simulation-based experiments in
evolutionary game theory have attempted to provide an explanation for
the selection of ethnocentric-strategy phenotypes.
Despite support for evolutionary theories relating to an innate
origin of racism, various studies have suggested racism is associated
with lower intelligence and less diverse peer groups during childhood.
A neuroimaging study on amygdala activity during racial matching
activities found increased activity to be associated with adolescent
age as well as less racially diverse peer groups which the author
conclude suggest an learned aspect of racism. A meta analysis of
neuroimaging studies found amygdala activity correlated to increased
scores on implicit measures of racial bias. It was also argued
amygdala activity in response to racial stimuli represents increased
threat perception rather than the traditional theory of the amygdala
activity represented ingroup-outgroup processing.
Racism has also
been associated with lower childhood IQ in an analysis of 15,000
people in the UK.
Nazism and race ,
Racial policy of Nazi Germany ,
Racial antisemitism ,
Eugenics in Showa Japan ,
Apartheid in South
Racial segregation in the
United States ,
Ketuanan Melayu ,
Anti-Chinese legislation in Indonesia , and
White Australia policy _
Separate "white" and "colored" entrances to a cafe in North
Carolina , 1940 1935 Chart from
Nazi Germany used to explain
Nuremberg Laws , defining which
Germans were to be considered Jews
and stripped of their citizenship.
Germans with three or more Jewish
grandparents were defined as Jews,
Germans with one or two Jewish
grandparents were deemed Mischling_ (mixed-blood).
State racism —that is, the institutions and practices of a
nation-state that are grounded in racist ideology—has played a major
role in all instances of settler colonialism , from the United States
Australia . It also played a prominent role in the Nazi German
regime, in fascist regimes throughout
Europe , and during the early
years of Japan's
Shōwa period . These governments advocated and
implemented ideologies and policies that were racist, xenophobic and,
in the case of
Nazism , genocidal. The politics of
discrimination against whites, in an effort to ethnically cleanse the
The Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935 prohibited sexual relations between
Aryan and Jew, considering it _
Rassenschande _, "racial
Nuremberg Laws stripped all Jews, even quarter- and
Jews (second and first degree _Mischlings_), of their German
citizenship. This meant that they had no basic citizens' rights, e.g.,
the right to vote . In 1936,
Jews were banned from all professional
jobs, effectively preventing them from having any influence in
education, politics, higher education and industry. On 15 November
1938, Jewish children were banned from going to normal schools. By
April 1939, nearly all Jewish companies had either collapsed under
financial pressure and declining profits, or had been persuaded to
sell out to the Nazi government. This further reduced their rights as
human beings; they were in many ways officially separated from the
German populace. Similar laws existed in
Bulgaria – The
protection of the nation ,
Romania , and
Austria . _
19th century political cartoon :
Uncle Sam kicks out the Chinaman _,
referring to the
Chinese Exclusion Act .
Legislative state racism is known to have been enforced by the
National Party of South
Africa during its
Apartheid regime between
1948 and 1994. Here a series of
Apartheid legislation was passed
through the legal systems to make it legal for white South Africans to
have rights which were superior to those of non-white South Africans.
Non-white South Africans were not allowed involvement in any governing
matters, including voting; access to quality healthcare; the provision
of basic services, including clean water; electricity; as well as
access to adequate schooling. Non-white South Africans were also
prevented from accessing certain public areas, from using certain
public transportation and were required to live only in certain
designated areas. Non-white South Africans were taxed differently than
white South Africans and they were also required to carry on them at
all times additional documentation, which later became known as "dom
passes", to certify their non-white South African citizenship. All of
these legislative racial laws were abolished through a series of equal
human rights laws which were passed at the end of the
Apartheid era in
the early 1990s.
The current constitution of Liberia , as enacted in 1984, is racist
in its Article 27, because it does not allow non-blacks to become
Liberian citizens: "only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent
shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of
Anti-racism An anti-racism rally held outside
Sydney Town Hall , December 2005.
Anti-racism includes beliefs, actions, movements, and policies which
are adopted or developed in order to oppose racism. In general, it
promotes an egalitarian society in which people are not discriminated
against on the basis of race. Movements such as the Civil Rights
Movement and the Anti-
Apartheid Movement were examples of anti-racist
Nonviolent resistance is sometimes embraced as an element
of anti-racist movements, although this was not always the case. Hate
crime laws, affirmative action , and bans on racist speech are also
examples of government policy which is intended to suppress racism.
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
UNESCO marks March 21 as the yearly International Day for the
Elimination of Racial
Discrimination , in memory of the events that
occurred on March 21, 1960 in Sharpeville , South
Africa , where
police killed demonstrators protesting against the apartheid regime.
TEACHING ABOUT RACISM
Museum of Tolerance offers children and adults an opportunity to
interact with authentic artifacts from the
Holocaust . The Southern
Law Center disseminates materials to teachers to help them
educate their students about the causes and effects of racism.
* Allport\'s Scale
Curse and mark of Cain
* Curse of
Discrimination based on skin color
Environmental racism in
Index of racism-related articles
Racial bias in criminal news
Racism in horror films
Racism in the LGBT community
Social interpretations of race
Sociology of race and ethnic relations
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