Race and Racism

By Christopher Zoukis

It was Solomon, the favorite son of King David and heir to the throne of Israel, who wrote, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”  And the idea that the white race is superior to the so-called colored races is no exception.  It’s been around a long, long time.  To demonstrate this fact, it is necessary to take a quick look at the idea of ‘race’ and the general history of ‘racism.’  King Solomon / Image courtesy en.wikipedia.org

Race, which is defined as “any of the major biological divisions of mankind, distinguished by color and texture of hair, color of skin and eyes, stature, bodily proportions, etc.:  many ethnologists now consider that there are only three primary divisions, the Caucasian (loosely, white race), Negroid (loosely, black race), and Mongoloid (loosely, yellow race), each with various subdivisions:  the term has acquired so many unscientific connotations that in this sense it is often replaced in scientific usage by ethnic stock or group.”

White was first used in the racial sense, as an adjective, in the year 1604.  Whoever it was that used it, did it like this:  “of those races (chiefly European or of European Extraction) characterized by light complexion.”  Certainly it was used prior to that, but this is the first recorded usage.  And it is assumed that this usage was quite common at that time, which shows how long ‘racism’ has been around.

William Perry, in 1676, distinguished between blacks and whites, calling blacks a totally different and separate species.  Blacks differed from Europeans not only in skin color “but also in natural manners and in the internal qualities of their minds.”  No one challenged Perry’s conclusions.  In fact, Europeans agreed.  There was nothing startling about these remarks.  It was common knowledge.  In other words, bigotry and hatred were prevalent. 

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