What are some examples of racism in pre-modern literature?

What are some examples of racism in pre-modern literature?

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I just got thinking about this and really cannot think of a possible answer to it. In old literature, for example, the works of Shakespeare (which I know were plays but this question may still apply to it), from before there was any sort of aversion to racism, and in some cases, an encouragement to discriminate against anyone of a non-white ethnicity, are there any prominent examples of racism, which no-one would have really noticed as it was the norm, but which would get a writer today jailed, or even any underlying tones of racism?

As I already wrote on another occasion, How did people categorize each other in the middle ages, how did racism work? racism seems to be a relatively modern invention. In the works of historians of ancient Greece and Rome I could not find ANY trace of it. To the extent that we do not know from the work of these historians what was the race or skin color of the main personages. (What was the race of Hannibal? What were the races of African kings who waged the wars with the Romans?) It seems that this situation prevailed until the Enlightenment age, or perhaps even later.

It seems that the very word "race" did not appear in European languages before 17 s century. I challenge anyone who voted this answer down to give a reference for the use of the word "race" before 1600.

EDIT. Of course all kinds of discrimination by religion, language, noble or not noble origin and even a place of birth were very common. But "race" was not. The notion of race is of modern origin. Race is a "biological" notion, or more precisely pseudobiological, based on skin color, form of eyes, nose, hair etc.

Internalized racism

Internalized racism is a form of internalized oppression, defined by sociologist Karen D. Pyke as the "internalization of racial oppression by the racially subordinated." [1] In her study The Psychology of Racism, Robin Nicole Johnson emphasizes that internalized racism involves both "conscious and unconscious acceptance of a racial hierarchy in which whites are consistently ranked above people of color." [2] These definitions encompass a wide range of instances, including, but not limited to, belief in negative racial stereotypes, adaptations to white cultural standards, and thinking that supports the status quo (i.e. denying that racism exists). [3]

Internalized racism as a phenomenon is a direct product of a racial classification system, and is found across different racial groups and regions around the world where race exists as a social construct. [1] In these places, internalized racism can have adverse effects on those who experience it. For example, high internalized racism scores have been linked to poor health outcomes among Caribbean black women, higher propensity for violence among African American young males, and increased domestic violence among Native American populations in the US. [4] [5] [6]

Responses to internalized racism have been varied. Many of the approaches focus on dispelling false narratives learned from racial oppression. An example of opposition to internalized racism is the "Black is beautiful" cultural movement in the US, which sought to "directly attack [the] ideology" that blackness was ugly. [7]

History of Racism Topics for Research Paper

Although racism is painful, it started a long time ago and you can explore its history through the following topics on racism.

  1. How colonialism shaped aboriginal racism in Australia.
  2. Women’s movement of the 1960s: Did it manage to unite black and white women?
  3. Mexican American racism in the US: Why did it intensify in the 20 th century?
  4. Analyzing racial prejudice in the 1950s.
  5. Was Malcolm X racist? Justify your answer.
  6. Can we refer to the ancient Greeks racists?
  7. Were the antislavery ideas part of the causes of the Civil War?
  8. Exploring racist ideas in Charles Darwin’s work.
  9. National identity: Is it connected to racism?
  10. Do anthropological researchers fight or help racism?
  11. Black poverty and racism in the 20 th century: How are they connected?
  12. Analyzing the reactions following the assassination of Martin Luther King. Jr.
  13. How is racism depicted in colonialism literature?

Racism Argumentative Topics for Research Paper

Racism often turns into a heated subject of controversy and serious disputes. So, if you want to be part of the discussion, here are some great racism argumentative topics for research paper to consider.

  1. Why is racism immoral?
  2. Racism and hate crimes in the US: Are they connected?
  3. Should we consider Islamophobia racism?
  4. Racism: Can we refer to it as a mental disorder?
  5. Race: Does it serve any purpose in modern society?
  6. Irishness: Should it be considered a show of racism?
  7. Prejudice towards ladies in hijab: Is it baseless?
  8. Racism: Is it rooted in fear?
  9. What countries are the most racist in the EU?
  10. Do you agree with the statement, “there will always be color racism?”
  11. Prejudice and racism: Are they the same thing.
  12. Comic books: Can we consider it racist against black people?

Analytical Research Topics about Racism

Questions about “Why,” “How” and “What next” about racism always lingers in the mind of thoughtful. To get answers to these questions, here are some interesting topics about racism to consider:

  1. Explain how racism influenced the formation of the English language.
  2. Why do most people prefer marriage partners from the same race?
  3. How does racism impact prisoners in the US?
  4. Types of racism that exist in the EU?
  5. The impact of racism on the mental health of racial minorities.
  6. Racial discrimination and police brutality: How are they connected?
  7. What are the main effects of racism on the sports industry?
  8. A closer look at the use of anti-racist ideas in television commercials.
  9. Ageism and racism: Are they different?
  10. Analyzing racism in American pop culture.
  11. Assessing the racial prejudices in Oscar boycotts.
  12. Analyze segregation in the Novel “Sula” by Tula Morrison.
  13. Can the “Othello” by Shakespeare be considered racist?
  14. Affirmative action: Should it be class-based or group-based?

Interesting Racism Research Topics

Do you want to gain deeper insights into the topic of racism? Here are some great racism research paper topics that you should consider.

  1. Capitalism and racism in Japan.
  2. A closer look at the theory of protest by Socrates.
  3. Homophobic hip-hop music: How does it impact the social attitudes towards the LGBT community?
  4. Ten proofs that racism still exist in the United States.
  5. What are the different types of racism in the US?
  6. The implications of aboriginal discrimination in Australia.
  7. How are Muslims discriminated in the UK?
  8. Analyzing internalized racism.
  9. Authoritarian theory of prejudice.
  10. Scapegoat theory: Does it always explain racism? Explain.
  11. Is racism responsible for poor social progress?
  12. A closer look at the historical figures who fought against racism in history.
  13. Analyzing the anti-discrimination laws in Cuba by Fidel Castro.
  14. European colonialism: Was it responsible for the spread of racism?

Good Research Topics Dealing with Racism

We all agree that racism is bad, right? Here are some awesome research topics about race and racism and how to deal with it.

  1. Dealing with racial prejudices: What are the best strategies?
  2. How effective are the US laws in preventing racism.
  3. How can leaders deal with racism in their workplace?
  4. How can we reduce racial discrimination in education?
  5. Is it possible to have a world without racism?
  6. Confucianism: Can it help to address the problem of racism?
  7. Apartheid and progress in South Africa.
  8. Institutional racism: Why is it so difficult to address?
  9. Environmental racism: What is it and how can we fight it?
  10. Demystify the four types of group interactions: Assimilation, segregation, pluralism, and genocide.
  11. Can we justify racism at times?
  12. Suggest the main strategies that can be used to end racial discrimination in schools.
  13. Can art be used to fight racism?
  14. A deeper look at the history of affirmative action.
  15. Analyzing the Australia policies and their effectiveness in addressing xenophobia.
  16. Analyzing the US efforts to end discrimination against homeless people.
  17. Racism and U.S criminal justice system.

What Next?

Once students have selected their preferred sociology racism topics, the writing journey commences. So, whether you selected a racism topic related to American History or methods of addressing the problem, you will need to have the right resources and top-notch writing skills. If you feel stuck with the paper because of one reason or another, the best option is seeking college research paper help from our experts.

The Origins of Racism in the West

The application of potentially anachronistic terms to pre-modern societies is the subject of ongoing debate and the debate is at its most bloody when considering the interlinked concepts of ethnicity, identity and race. This new edited volume contributes greatly to both sides of the discussion, containing within its covers the full gamut of academic argument from detailed scholarly reasoning and masterful surveys of material to impassioned personal counter-attacks. This range reflects the dual nature and purpose of the book: on the one hand, it is a selection of research papers on an important and popular subject on the other, it is an argument occupying a specific space within a continuing academic dispute.

The book is drawn from the papers presented at a conference held in Tel Aviv University in 2005, entitled ‘Racism in Western Civilization before 1700’. The papers in this volume consider the topic through a variety of different time periods and source material, making for varied and engaging reading. In one sense therefore, the book is successful, as it presents a series of new studies on what is currently a ‘hot’ topic in academia.

However, the volume is subject to a second agenda. Both the book and the original conference are deliberate companion pieces to an earlier publication by one of the volume editors: The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity by Benjamin Isaac. Isaac’s book stimulated controversy when it was first published in 2004, eliciting praise from some reviewers and strong objections from others. 1 The introduction and the first paper (penned by Isaac himself) both make extensive reference to this controversy, and both explicitly state that this edited volume was conceived as a response to Isaac’s critics. As well as the direct assertion of this agenda in these introductory chapters, in the rest of the book the individual authors also engage with Isaac’s thesis, either lending their support or outlining their reasons for disagreement. The resulting unity of theme in the volume is remarkable, and is one of the strong points of the book. However, the final publication does not completely fulfil its aim in that it does not wholly support Isaac’s argument. Indeed, the various papers in the volume pose more questions for his theory than they answer.

The introduction is strongly influenced by Isaac at the expense of the other editors, and explicitly lays out his agenda for the book. It introduces Isaac’s conception of racism, not simply as ethnic prejudice (which can take many diverse forms), but as a very specific phenomenon — prejudice justified on pseudo-scientific and pseudo-biological grounds. Under this definition, two common forms of prejudice often considered to be racism today cannot be classified under the term: prejudice based on cultural traits such as religion and language and ethnic prejudices without an attached scientific justification. Having established his definition of racism, the Introduction then summarizes Isaac’s previous argument. This holds that racism first emerged in Classical Greece and was passed down through the centuries in ‘western’ (i.e., European and North American) culture, before developing into its modern form and being exported to the rest of the world through western imperialism and cultural dominance. The Introduction then explains that since Isaac’s 2004 monograph focused on the emergence of racism in antiquity itself, the aim of this edited volume would be to trace the transmission and development of the idea through the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period (p. 14-15).

Isaac’s own paper follows the Introduction, and address specific criticisms of Isaac’s previous book, focusing in turn on different criticisms concerning his choice of limited source material, ancient evidence countering his argument, his interpretation of the geographic determinism in Airs, Waters, Places, and anachronism. The chapter is therefore less of a research paper than a review rebuttal, and may appear somewhat jarring for the reader unfamiliar with the history of the debate.

After the introductory chapters, the papers are arranged chronologically by the time period they discuss. The first of these is Shapiro’s survey of depictions of Persians in Athenian vase painting between c. 540-330 BC, highlighting how many of these images portray the historical Persians as fantastical or mythical figures. Shapiro does not, however, consider how these visual representations might be interpreted in the context of Classical Greek perceptions of the Other or what his conclusions might mean for the wider questions at hand.

Goldenberg’s paper discusses antique and early Christian colour symbolism linking black with the underworld, sin and the devil. He argues that this symbolism would have informed contemporary perceptions of black Africans, and was influential in the development of later racist attitudes towards them. Goldenberg also suggests that these attitudes may not in themselves have been ‘racist’ in Isaac’s sense, as negative associations to do with skin colour seem unconnected to personal characteristics or cultural traits.

Early Christian ideas about ethnicity are also discussed by Buell, who uses textual sources to suggest that converts to Christianity were seen as entering into a new genealogy, leaving behind them their old ethnos and receiving true (i.e. spiritual) Abrahamic ancestry. Buell points out that this perception of ancestry as changeable rather than fixed is in direct opposition to modern racism, which concentrates on the fixity of biology. This interesting conclusion is then somewhat obscured by Buell’s final argument, where she posits that this idea of a changeable ancestry does not preclude the existence of Isaac’s ‘racism’, as early Christians were still prejudiced against individuals outside their ethnos (i.e. non-Christians).

Bartlett’s paper returns to visual sources to analyse the depiction of different ethnic groups in illustrated manuscripts of the eleventh to fourteenth centuries. Bartlett draws up a tripartite classification of such illustrations images where no visual cues are given to differentiate between different groups, images where people are differentiated by dress and hairstyle, and images where people are differentiated by bodily characteristics. While only the last of these can be said to be at all indicative of ‘racism’ in Isaac’s sense, Bartlett goes on to show how English illustrations in the second group were a crucial part of the creation of the negative stereotype of the Irish which was used to justify English imperialism. Such non-biological stereotyping, Bartlett argues, was still influential in the development of modern racism.

The next two papers by Biller and Ziegler argue for two different interpretations of a similar body of material and for two different positions on Isaac’s theory. Biller starts with the classical texts examined by Isaac in The Invention of Racism…, and traces the use of these texts in the arts and medicine faculties of the major European universities. From this, Biller concludes that the ancient Greek ‘racism’ identified by Isaac would have been broadly influential amongst the educated classes, thereby accounting for the transmission of the idea of racism in western culture.

Ziegler focuses more specifically on physiognomic texts from a similar period, perhaps the source material most likely to contain Isaacian racist comments. Physiognomy, he argues, was held to be more indicative of individual personality and character rather than biological descent, and physiognomic works arguing a ‘racist’ approach were “relegated to a marginal position” within the discipline (p. 199).

De Miramon argues a similar position in his paper. He identifies the first known usages of the word ‘race’ in the fourteenth century, highlighting that it was used primarily of animals — specifically of domesticated dogs and hawks. He concludes that interest in the idea of race grew only gradually over the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and that this was “a minority trend that must be understood in the framework of a complex cultural change that took place at the end of the Middle Ages” (p. 216).

Groebner’s paper gives literary examples of blacks and Arabs being associated with a dangerously strong and perhaps even violent sexuality. Groebner sees this trend as part of the European response to the expansion of the slave trade, and connected to the growing anxiety about race and racial encounter in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The following paper by Nirenberg also identifies a new interest in genealogy and race in the mid-fifteenth century. Nirenberg, however, focuses on perceptions of Jews in medieval Spain, and highlights several instances which would classify as ‘racism’ under Isaac’s scheme where biological arguments are used to make social or cultural assertions about Spanish Jews. He therefore agrees with Isaac that some elements of modern racism can be traced back to the pre-modern period. However, Nirenberg nuances this view, pointing out that Spanish Christians did not conform to any single approach to Jews. Race, he asserts, is not a singular theory or concept, and it cannot be said to have a linear development through history (p. 261).

Po-chia Hsia’s paper also considers Christian attitudes to Jews, but focuses on how Jewish converts were perceived in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Like Nirenberg, Po-chia Hsia stresses the complexity of these attitudes, pointing out that the confessional diversity within Christianity made any unified approach to other religions impossible.

Eliav-Feldon’s chapter on Gypsies in Early Modern Europe echoes the conclusions of the last few contributors, in that she argues for a more complex understanding of ethnic prejudice. Eliav-Feldon identifies some elements of Isaacian ‘racism’ in literary representations of Gypsies, but however warns that “a handful of racists does not Racism make” (p. 288).

Pagden offers a stronger version of these earlier conclusions, claiming that the idea of race and racism is “of relatively recent origin”, and arguing that applying the term ‘racism’ to pre-modern periods is “purely anachronistic” (p. 292). He identifies the sixteenth century and the new engagement with Amerindians in the new world as a vital turning point, when the concept of ‘race’ and ‘racism’ attracted mainstream interest and gained purchase. However, Pagden warns that even in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century treatments of Amerindians, ideas about biology and ethnicity were still far from uniform, and the concept of separate races was problematic for the evangelical justifications of empire.

The final paper in the volume is Canñizares-Esguerra’s discussion of how physical bodies were understood in the Early Modern period. Like previous authors, Canñizares-Esguerra sees a change in attitudes, suggesting that bodies and bloodlines were thought to be changeable for much of the period, and subject to external influence. It is not until the end of the period, he argues, that bodies began to be conceived of as fixed and immutable.

The two introductory chapters and thirteen papers of this volume make for varied reading, and many of the papers contain interesting insights on an important topic. However, many of these papers do not fully support the stated aim of the book — to demonstrate Isaac’s theory that racism was invented in Classical Greece and transmitted to the modern world through western tradition in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. While several papers do identify instances where ethnic prejudice was justified on pseudo-scientific and biological grounds, almost all papers equally assert that such views were only one amongst many different contemporary ways of articulating difference. Shapiro, Buell, and Bartlett all highlight instances where difference was expressed in non-biological terms. Goldenberg, Nirenberg, Po-chia Hsia, Eliav-Feldon and Pagden all emphasize the complexity of ethnic prejudice and assert that biological and non-biological theories of ethnic difference frequently co-existed. Ziegler, De Miramon and Pagden go yet further, claiming that biological explanations of difference were less common than non-biological ones in the pre-modern period. But perhaps the most serious issue undermining Isaac’s thesis is the widespread agreement amongst the other authors that there was a marked change during the Early Modern period. De Miramon, Groebner, Nirenberg, Po-chia Hisa, Eliav-Feldon, Pagden and Canñizares-Esguerra all suggest that there was something of a ‘racial turn’ in the later Early Modern period, where biological rationalisations of difference became gradually more popular. It therefore seems that there is not unanimous support within the volume for the lead editor’s strong view about the unbroken transmission of the idea of racism from antiquity to the present day. Whilst this edited volume may initially have been designed as a vehicle for the furtherance of Isaac’s theory, the overall impression serves to question at least as much as to support his thesis.

Indeed, Isaac’s own contributions to the volume in Chapters 1 and 2 are less than completely convincing on three levels. Firstly, his definition of racism is somewhat problematic when applied to pre-modern societies. Unlike some other critics, I would agree with Isaac that when ethnic prejudice is justified on rationalising and systematic grounds, it should be considered as a qualitatively different phenomenon from other forms of ethnic prejudice. However, Isaac focuses exclusively on explanations of difference which we might recognise as striving for some kind of ‘scientific’ basis. Myths are summarily dismissed as irrelevant (p. 9). But it has long been recognised that regimes of rationality vary between cultures, and that myths can encode rational systems, performing essentially the same function of systematizing and rationalizing which science does for us today. 2 By restricting his analysis to ‘pseudo-scientific’ explanations of difference, Isaac imposes an anachronistic and culturally specific regime of rationality on the pre-modern past.

Even if we accept Isaac’s definition of racism and accept western scientific rationality as the only valid form of rationality through history, a second problem emerges. Isaac himself admits that he cannot conclusively prove that it was the Classical Greeks who first ‘invented’ ethnic prejudice with a pseudo-scientific justification. He concedes that he does not have the training necessary to study Mesopotamian ethnic prejudices, for example (p. 33). Instead, he justifies his assumption on the grounds that “[the Greeks] were the first to develop abstract concepts in their thinking about nature and to systematize those ideas” (p. 9). Aside from the fact that scholars of Mesopotamia, Egypt and China might justifiably object to this latter assertion, Isaac’s argument is problematic because it is a negative one — to prove the Greeks ‘invented’ racism, it is first necessary to prove no one else did. 3

Even if we accept Isaac’s definition of racism and the improvable hypothesis that racism was invented in Greece, one final problem emerges. This problem strikes to the heart of the book’s stated aim — that of tracing the linear transmission of racism from antiquity to pre-modern western European society, enabling its later transmission to other parts of the world in modern times. The problem stems from the reception of antiquity in places other than western Europe. Greek texts, after all, were preserved more fully in the Arabic scholarly tradition during the Middle Ages than in the European. 4 Under Isaac’s theory, we would expect racism to be equally transmitted to Arabic culture as well as western culture. However, only one mention of Arab scholarship is made in the entire volume, and this mentions Ibn Battuta’s (non-racist) belief that physiognomy could be influenced by environment (p. 198). If, as Isaac seems to argue, the racism of antiquity was indeed transmitted solely to ‘the West’, the question begs to be asked why Europe was a more fertile ground for racist ideas than North Africa or the Middle East. Isaac’s underlying assumption that ‘the West’ is the sole heir to Classical antiquity is in itself instructive. It seems that it is us historians, rather than our historical subjects, who are most concerned with heredity and who strive the hardest to claim our lineage.

1. Positive reviews include: Dee, J. H. BMCR 2009.06.49 and Nov, D. 2005. Phoenix 59, 405-407. Critical reviews include: Haley, S. P. 2005. The American Journal of Philology 126, 451-454 Lambert, M. 2005. Classical Review 55, 658-662 Millar, F. 2005. The International History Review 27, 85-99 and Richter, D. 2006. Classical Philology 101, 287-290.

2. For ‘regimes of rationality’, see: Foucault, M. 1991. ‘Questions of Method’, in Burchell, Gordon, & Miller (eds.) The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, p. 79. Mythic and non-scientific rationalities are explored in many works, of which the following are only a tiny proportion: Adorno, T. 2002. Introduction to Sociology Brody, H. 1981. Maps and Dreams: Indians and the British Columbia Frontier Ingold, T. 2000. The perception of the environment: essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill Kirk, G. S. 1970. Myth. For rationality and myth in Greece, see papers in: Buxton, R. (ed.) From Myth to Reason? Studies in the Development of Greek Thought.

3. It should perhaps also be noted that earlier or contemporary evidence for ethnic prejudice justified explicitly on biological and genealogical grounds can indeed be found. In fifth century Persia, Achaemenid ideology held that the ability to govern effectively was linked to Aryan lineage (see Darius’ mortuary inscription at Naqsh-i Rushtam, in R. G. Kent, 1953 Old Persian, DNa). Similarly, in fourteenth century Egypt, peoples of different countries were described as being of different skins, language and natures in The Great Hymn to Aten (Pritchard, 1958 The Ancient Near East. Similar again is the assertion in Old Testament times that for the Israelites, biological descent could be connected to divine favour (see Deuteronomy 7.3-8 for endogamy, ancestry and divine favour).

4. Gutas 1998, Greek Thought, Arab Culture Reynolds and Wilson, 1991, Scribes and Scholars, p. 55-57.

What are some examples of racism in pre-modern literature? - History

Racist behaviour often results in racial discrimination, with its obvious negative consequences, ranging from simple neglect, or the avoidance of those believed to be different and inferior, to more explicit forms of harassment, exploitation or exclusion.

Creuza Oliveira, a domestic worker in Brazil

The voice of Creuza Oliveira tells the story of more than nine million Brazilian domestic workers, mostly women, mostly black, for whom slavery is not relegated to the dust piles of history. It is also the story of the revolutionary impact unions and social movements can have on entrenched and systemic injustices.

Khalid Hussain, an Urdu-speaking Bihari in Bangladesh

Khalid Hussain is a Bihari from Bangladesh. He describes the Urdu speaking Biharis as the most disadvantaged group in Bangladesh because they are not recognized as citizens in the country they regard as their home.

Elena Gorolová, a Roma in the Czech Republic

Elena Gorolová and her husband had always dreamed of having a little girl. Blessed with the birth of two sons, they looked forward to the next &mdash until she was told she had been sterilized without her knowledge by the very doctor who delivered her son.

Honourable Al Shaymaa J. Kwegyir, an albino in Tanzania

Al Shaymaa J. Kwegyir, a Tanzanian member of parliament describes albinism as a "disability just like any other form of disability" but in Tanzania it’s a condition where many sufferers are forced into hiding for fear of their lives.

4. Elijah Turley (ArcelorMittal)

In 2012, Elijah Turley, an African American processor operator at ArcelorMittal’s Buffalo steel plant, was awarded $25 million in damages (an amount the company later branded ‘absurd’) after a recurring series of alleged hate incidents between 2005 and 2008.

Turley testified that he found a stuffed monkey with a noose around its neck hanging from his car’s side mirror and that ‘KKK’ was written on the walls of the plant, which was closed in 2009.

The jury’s unanimous decision came after a three-week trial in which Turley painfully recalled the taunts he experienced, while the company – despite claiming to have halted the harassment – was found liable for enabling a hostile work environment.

6 The Secret Garden

It is the classic tale of a spoiled little girl named Mary whose parents die in India and who is sent back to England and put in the care of her emotionally distant sort of an asshole uncle. As she wanders around her uncle's Castlevania-sized house, she finds a forgotten garden and a small, sickly boy, and with the magical power of flowers and wishes, the sickly boy gets healthier and then her uncle rediscovers the power of love and everyone becomes a better person.

The story has been brought to movie and TV screens countless times for a reason. For parents of little girls going through their "I hate everything" stage, it is the perfect piece of propaganda. It seamlessly combines flowers, mansions and everything else that little girls go apeshit for with the exact message that their parents would have taught them if they'd thought of it: If you're nice to your family and go quietly play in the yard, your life will turn into a magical fairy tale.

Oh, and also, black people are the cause of everything that's bad in the world.

In the book, on the first morning after Mary moves into her uncle's mansion, she is awakened by a straight-talking maidservant named Martha. It's the sort of character who would be played by a sassy black lady in a modern American movie, but this is England, so Martha is just sassy and poor. She's so sassy, in fact, that she tells her child-boss Mary that she thought she was going to be black because she came from India. Mary of course throws a temper tantrum, exclaims that blacks "are not people," and bursts into tears.

Of course, this is Mary at her brattiest. Surely, the wise Martha will correct her, and Mary's racism will be just another part of the person she will leave behind as her face becomes less punchable.

Nope! Unlike Mark Twain's controversial Huck Finn, where the racially insensitive language is offset by Huck and Jim's tender, buddy cop dynamic, Mary's virulent racism is never corrected by anyone or by anything that happens in the book. In fact, Martha uses her role as the voice of reason in the situation to blame Mary's awful behavior on the fact that she is from India, where there are "a lot of blacks there instead of respectable white people."

Though it's the last time that black people are explicitly referenced, there's also a strong undercurrent of symbolic racism. For instance, Mary can't begin her journey to self-discovery until Martha changes her out of her black clothes and puts on white clothes, while Mary makes the very odd statement that she hates everything black.

Again, this statement isn't even addressed. Once she changes into white clothing and no longer has to deal with the "black" Indian servants Martha blames for her poor character, Mary heads out into the mansion and begins her journey of discovery.

Related: Take A Toxic Tour Through England's Poison Garden

Analysing Slavery in Mark Twain's Writing

According to widely held view on slavery, it is has been acknowledged that it is ‘a virtually universal feature of human history’ that has preserved up to nowadays. As absolute proof of old origins of slavery accounts to the fact that there are written documents survived from ancient times as written in e.g., the Code of Hammurabi and The Old Testament showing that slavery was established in the early civilizations. As to present days, the United Nations’ (hereafter UN) reports reveal a ‘huge number’ of women, children and men being exploited and forced into slavery ranging from at least eight hundred- thousand to three million people trafficked annually. Therefore, globalization has brought not only positive cultural exchanges, but also endemic slavery around the world, raising a discussion of tackling and eliminating this painful issue.

Concerning the term ‘slavery’, it denotes much of negativism and violence e.g., torture, kidnap, murder, inferiority, punishment as well as ‘the wilful destruction of human mind and spirit’ (Bales, 2005:6). Nevertheless, the historians (Bales:2005David:2004 Kopytoff:1977) describe that slaves throughout human history have been treated as inferior, uncivilized and bestialized e.g., Mark Twain’s story ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ portrays the Southerners’ vision of a runaway slave who is perceived as superstitious, uneducated and perhaps violent thing: merely a human in their view.

This helps to explain the hostile or negative feelings, attitudes and actions towards one ethnic group of people, in this case a white person’s disdain and superiority overblack person. The superiority of white or Caucasian race derives from times of slavery as the historian Kevin Bales (2005:7) states slavery can damage people’s mind, namely, (1) slaves (2) slaveholders and (3) members of society who live this system. As to Bales (ibid), such society accepts dehumanization of a person that allow prospering slavery around the globe. Thus, we can observe that slavery has remerged not only in many different times throughout human history, but also is present in our times. This research paper aims at illustrating a link between past and present displayed in Mark Twain’s literary works. They reveal that slavery in the South can be perceived as a ghost of the past, which has been equally haunting African Americans and Caucasian race. As a result, the past has widened a gap between those two races in America. William Faulkner has said that ‘only with Twain, Walt Whitman became a true indigenous American culture’ (quoted in Hutchinson, 1998:80). Mark Twain who was born and raised in the America’s South was the pioneer of displaying the spoken language, the very American language in literature that is characterized as vivid, but with sardonic humour, neat aphorism. It has to be mentioned that Mark Twain is regarded as a complex personality since he managed to contradict himself not only in a real life, but also in his writings.

The subject of the bachelor thesis is institution of slavery in Mark Twain’s works. In other words, the paper investigates aspects and issue of slavery described in Mark Twain’s writings, including ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ (1884-85) and ‘A True Story, Repeated for Word, as I heard It’ (1874) which are set in the pre Civil War society of American South-West.

The aim of the paper is to gain a comprehensive picture of slavery from Mark Twain’s works.

The objectives of the research paper

  1. the task is to select and to review the most common images of slavery presented in Twain’s writings by such characters as Aunt Rachel, Jim and Huck Finn
  2. to make the use of a study of history i.e. Slavery in America , but take into account Mark Twain’s personal view on slavery
  3. to analyse the images of slavery using the writer’s stories
  4. to test the results i.e. to compare those two different images of slavery i.e. literary works and official history of slavery
  5. to draw the relevant conclusions taking into account both his writings and the historical context.

Hypothesis: Mark Twain’s literary works imply personal responsibility and awareness on such complex issue as slavery, but problems of slavery cannot be viewed separately from historical context.

Methods of research

  • case study: analysis of such historical works on slavery written by Suzzane Miers, Igor Kopytoff, Christine Hatt,Robert McColley and others
  • analysis of two Mark Twain’s stories
  • Juxtaposition: to contrast and compare those two different images of slavery, namely, historical and literary description of slavery.

The author of the paper has chosen the case study as a research method for a number of reasons. First of all, case study research allow us better understanding a complex issue or object and this method of study is especially useful for testing theory by using it in real world situations. Secondly, a case study is an in depth study of a particular situation. It is a method used to narrow down a very broad field of research into one easily researchable topic. Finally, it provides a structural way of looking at events, collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results. As a result, the researcher may get a better understanding of why the event happened as it did, and what is important to look at more closely in the future.

The first chapter deals with the history of racism and the concept of racism. The second chapter provides an insight into understanding of slavery and deals with the issue of institution of slavery in the USA. The third one and its subchapters deal with issues of slavery, namely, they show how slavery is depicted in Twain’s literary work ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and provide a brief insight into history of slavery in America and explores’ A True story’ and Aunt’s Rachel point of view of slavery.


This chapter deals with the history and the concept of racism. Racism is a subject that most people, at least in Western societies, have their own opinion on and it is as old as civilization, it continues to be an important factor in society today.

Alana Lentin (2011) claims that racism is a political phenomenon rather than a mere set of ideas. To analyze racism it is necessary to go beyond the texts of racial scientists and to look at how certain political conditions during particular historical contexts led to some of the ideas proposed by racial theorists being integrated into political practices of nation-states. There are three aspects – the political nature of racism, its modernity and its grounding in the history of the West that are fundamental to understanding racism’s hold over contemporary Western societies. It is very important as well to look at the statements, what a race is.

According to Ivan Hannaford (1996), the word race as used in Western languages is first found as late as the period 1200 – 1500. Only in the seventeenth century did it take on a separate meaning from the Latin word gens or clan and was related to the concept “ethnic group”. In other words the dispositions and presuppositions of race and ethnicity were introduced – some would say “invented” or “fabricated” – in modern times and in any case, were not given the meaning they have today until after the French and American revolutions. The reason why the notion of race became such a powerful and attractive idea is due to the “deliberate manipulation” of texts by scientists and historians to show that a racial order has always structured humanity (Hannaford 1996: 4). There was a definite division of the periods over which the idea of race developed. Hannaford divides it into three stages: 1684 – 1815, 1815 – 1870 and 1870 – 1914. The final period is known as the “Golden Age” of racism, it was a time when it was possible for the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to proclaim that race is all and there was no other truth. (ibid, 1996).

As Alana Lentin (2011) states the word “race” was first used in its modern sense in 1684, when a Frenchman published his essay, where race stood for divisions among humans based on observable physical differences. At this stage race was used a simple descriptor and there was no intention of superiority meant by presenting humanity in this way (2011).

Hannaford (1996) states that Western scholars later started to think about that it means to be human that fundamentally changed the way people thought about the origins of human life, the universe and society. It is the bases for the way we think about these things to this day. The most significant changes were in fact that theological explanations about life were replaced by logical description. (Hannaford, 1996: 187).

Lentin Alan (2011) considers that many people do not ask nowadays why racism is apparently so important, despite the end of colonialism, slavery and the Holocaust, the answer is that it is natural. Racism has entered into everyday speech and therefore in our consciousness. The idea of racism is so widespread that we easily mistake it for something that is just there, a fact of life. Racism is associated with the fear and even hatred that human beings are commonly expected to have for each other. Fear based on racism is inherent and there is no need to ask why it exists (2011).

As Neil Macmaster reminds us that racism is always a dynamic process, a set of beliefs and practices that is imbedded in a particular historical context, a particular social formation, and is thus continuously undergoing change, a plastic chameleon like phenomenon which constantly finds new forms of political, social, cultural or linguistic expression (2001: 2).

Lentin (2011) refers to race in descriptive terms, it takes account of racionalization. Racionalization is the process through which the supposed inferiority of black, colonized and non-whites is constructed. Today’s global racism divides the rich and the poor worlds and is no longer a simple black and white issue. Racionalization involves endowing the traditions and lifestyles that are attributed to groups of different “others” with negative signifiers (2011). According to Alan Lentin (2011), the development of a radicalized discourse about a group of people provides justification for their discrimination. It puts into words the very thing about a particular group that is said to disturb us and pose a threat to our way of life. The fact that racionalization and racism are repeated, affecting different groups over time, does not mean that racism is inevitable. Rather, it shows that considerable transformations of our political systems, our social and cultural infrastructure, and our discourse – the very way in which language is used – needs to change if racism in Western societies is to be overcome (2011:10).

Memmi (2000) investigates racism as social pathology – a cultural disease that prevails because it allows one part of society to empower itself at the expense of another. For Memmi, racism emerges from within human situations, rather than simply as the enforcement of an ideology, or the “natural” belief some people have according their innate superiority. Racism is a charge, like a judicial accusation that is levied against somebody, who is indicated as being in some manner (racially) different. It implies that the other has, in being different, somehow broken certain assumed rules, and is thus not a good person. Thus the person is devalued and disparaged and he suffers from it. The indictment, however, is unfounded and unjust, and the accused is thus the victim of an injustice. As well Memmi (2000) states that in France, reference to “le raciste” in a third person nominative mode, as to some unspecified person who behaves in a particular way, upholding certain ideas and attitude, would call up a more or less familiar picture, bur in the United States it would not really be as clear. It is a nation in which white racism is wholly generalized and integrated into political and social life. Though it may be invisible in everyday life, it can see by White people through accepting themselves without question as white. Thus racism moves beyond individual prejudice to engage broader questions of collective behaviour and social responsibility.

As it can be seen, the topic of racism is very broad. Some people would say that racism is just based on prejudices but some would say that it is something that people are born into, and they are not able to fight against it, nor break out of their social status. People who are in such situations, are born into a situation where they do not have an unfair disadvantage when trying to move out of their social status and thus fall into a category that can make them more susceptible to racial prejudice and ideologies. The next subchapter will have a closer look at types of racism.


The current subchapter aims at giving additional conceptions of the term ‘racism’ as well as outlining basic types of racism proposed by several authorities(Reilly, Kaufman, Bodino:2003)(Fredrickson:2002). The given section suggests that there is obvious correlation between racism and slavery.

The website on racism ‘Anti-Defamation League’ defines racism as ‘the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another as well as that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics’.

According to Reilly, Kaufman and Bodino (2003:9), race has no basic biological reality, because all we see is just a colour or different texture of hair or shape of eyes, but it does not have any decisive influence over a person’s intelligence or other traits. As a result, ‘misconceptions about race have lead to forms of racism that have caused much social, psychological and social harm’ (Reilly et.al.2003:10). Additionally, Frederickson points out (2002:1) that ‘racism that is the antipathy of one group towards another’ that ‘can be expressed and acted upon with a single mindedness and brutality’.

Nevertheless, the same experts describe racism as prejudice or discrimination against other people because of their race, due to their biology or ancestry and physical appearance. This pattern is clearly visible in Twain’s work ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ when a slave named Jim runs away from his owner, whereas the whole city spreads out the rumours about him having killed Huck’s father. Their assumption is based on prejudice that all black people are savages, violent and ca not be trusted. Thus, their attitude towards, slaves can be described as racism, because they judged those people, due to their ancestry and physical appearance.

Although the term racism first came into common usage in 1930ies (as stated in the book ‘A Racism: a short history’) (Fredercikson, 2002:5), the act of discrimination is still there i.e. while reading Twain’s literary works we can perceive how coloured people were treated in the American South.

This attitude or and approach of white superiority overwhelm the Southern society at the time when Huck Finn was embarking in his famous adventures on Mississippi river. A great deal of harm has been done to generations and in this particular case to Jim, Aunt Rachel and Huck Finn. The pain and burden of slavery of these characters are depicted in chapter three.

As to types of racism, the website on American Research and Geography called ‘Amerigis’ provides detailed information on types of racism. The types are as follows: Historical, Scientific, New, Spatial, Institutional, Internalized and Individual.

The online resource stated above claims that racism looks different today from it did thirty years ago. The author of the current paper finds important to mention that racism back in 19th century was blatant and caused so much pain and injustice to black race. Thus, the graduate proposes the idea that discrimination and injustice has derived from the time when slavery was acceptable even more it was the cornerstone of the South’s vision of sound social order. The author of BA thesis asserts that such blatant discrimination has never been experienced in human history as it was back in early 19th century it was the root of all evil caused to black race.

The classification of racism is based on several resources such as the Internet resource mentioned above, and three publications on racism

According to Belgrave et al(2010:104) cultural racism is expressed as assumed superiority of a language or dialect, values, beliefs, worldviews and cultural heritage e.g., in the novel ‘Huckleberry Finn’ the slave named Jim is regarded as superstitious person whose beliefs and values are regarded as infantile even compare to young white lad like Tom Sawyer.

The same scholar (ibid) explains that individual racism has the same meaning and features as of racial prejudice i.e. it assumes the superiority of one’s own racial group and justifies its domination and power over other race. For example, when Pap Finn gets all furious about a ‘white shirted free nigger to right to vote’, because he holds the view that black race has no right to freedom nor participate in elections. As he states ‘they told me there was a State in this country where they’d let that nigger vote,’ [ thus he determines ] , ‘I’ll never vote agin as long as I live’.

The Internet source ‘American research and geographic information system’ point to „white privilege” that frequently is hidden, because it has become internalized and integrated as part of one’s outlook on the world by custom, habit and tradition. For example, concerning antebellum society in the South of America if a white person helps a runaway slave towards freedom, ‘and in doing so he violets the laws of man, and he believes the laws of God’ (Hutchinson, 1998:130). The fact of helping slave that according to the Southerner rules is a deadly sin that sends a sinner into flames of hell. This points out that the church played a great role in peoples lives whereas any person who would disobey the given rule would be perceived as danger to their moral social order in the South. As a result, the southern upbringing does not allow Huck Finn to show his sympathy towards Jim, a runaway slave.

Slavery functioned as main social moral and religious issue in the South. The preceding sentences and extracts from Twain’s writings show that social order had a tremendous impact over members of the Southern society at the given time. Nevertheless, at that time there were no subtle forms or hidden ways of showing one’s hate towards other race, unlike today where many people express their hate via the Internet. On the contrary, it was impossible to show sympathy towards a slave e.g., the runway slave Jim who has abused the system and has sinned against the owner Miss Watson, arises the question to Huck whether he deserves his freedom.

Additionally The psychologists Bhattacharya, Cross, Bhugra (2010:41) also give the classification racism based on the analysis of human behavior under certain circumstances, namely, being exposed to people of other ethnicities in our global world. The author of the BA thesis will highlight the types which can be found in the following works ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘A True Story, Repeated for Word, as I heard It’

  1. dominative when a person acts out
  2. aversive when a person feels superior , but is unable to act
  3. regressive when a person’sdue to his or her view on racism behaves regressively
  4. pre-reflecting when a person has fear of strangers
  5. post reflecting when a person justifies his fear of strangers

The study on racism shows that it involves biased judgments on humans and their action e.g., racist determines what is good, correct, beautiful, sane, normal. Nevertheless, the historians and other experts of this field (Fredercikson, 2002), (Reilly, Kaufman, Bodino: 2003), (Carol: 1987) agree upon the view that racism and the same slavery is seen as ideology, as practice as social structure. Whereas, Mark Twain’s writings reflect on slavery as doctrine, practice and social cornerstone of the America South in antebellum society that has brought so much injustice and pain, as well.

The next subchapter will explore the ideology of racism.


The chapter gives an insight into the ideology of racism as it is an important matter discussed, portrayed in history books and literature. Ideology is a body of beliefs that drives the goals and expectations of an individual or a group. According to Martin N. Marger (2006) “As a belief system, or ideology, racism is structured around three basic ideas:

  1. Humans are divided naturally into different physical types.
  2. Such physical traits as people display are intrinsically related to their culture, personality, and intelligence.
  3. The differences among groups are innate, not subject to change, and in the basis of their genetic inheritance, some groups are innately superior to others” (Marger 2006:19).

Thus, racism is a belief that people are divided into hereditary groups that are different in their social behaviour. Racist thinking states that differences among groups are innate.

Carol Brunson argues that “the ideology of racism prescribes the parameters for perceiving social reality thereby defining guidelines for “desirable” interracial behaviour. Once the members of society are imbued with racist thinking, they will not only perceive their institutions as natural, they will voluntarily carry out institutional mandates as of they are a function of their own individual choice” (Carol Brunson, 1987:17).

According to the authors of the books on the ideology of race it can be seen that it is powerful and it persists in different forms of expression. Robert Miles’ work “Racism” is an essential reminder that racism is the object of ideological and discursive labouring. Robert Miles argues “Racism is best conceived primarily as an ideology for at least one other reason. Racism, qua ideology, was created historically and became interdependent with the ideology of nationalism. The argument that racism is a form of ideology is important and worth repeating” (Robert Miles, 2003:10).

When it comes to ideological components – assumptions of racism, Carol Brunson holds the following viewpoint: “Racist institutions not only create the structural conditions for racism, but also create a culturally sanctioned ideology that keeps the system operating. Racist ideology is a set of notions that ascribe central importance to real or presumed biological, cultural, and psychological differences among racial groups, attributing the arrangement of both historic and current social systems to these differences” (Carol Brunson, 1987:15). While ideological and cultural arguments are two pillars that support racism, one or other may be in the forefront at any given time. Stephen Gould states two assumptions of biologically based racist ideology:

  1. Humans are classifiable into discrete, hierarchically ranked biological groups (with whites at the top).
  2. Differences among the races reflect the natural and/or ordained order and therefore are eternally fixed (Gould, 1981:45).

Besides this biological argument, there exists also cultural argument, explaining the realities of the lives of people of colour. William Ryan (1976) defined blaming the victim as an ideological stance that locates the origins of social problems. Ryan identified four steps in victim blaming process. Locating social problem and population affected by it, comparison of values and behaviour of people affected by the social problem, locating the source off the problem in how the affected people are different from the successful ones, initiation of treatment that would change the affected people (Ryan, 1976).Victim blaming therefore provides a framework for explaining the problems of people of colour. It is also a framework for strategies to ameliorate the position of people of colour in our society. Many people learn about the ideology of racism and families, schools and media contribute to this education. They learn and behave according to the dictates of racist ideology. Carol Brunson argues that very early, children of all backgrounds learn stereotypes about other groups regardless of whether they have contact with actual people (Carol Brunson, 1987:18). These stereotypes later shape people’s reality and they start judging and interpreting ideas and behaviours by their learnt stereotypes. Each person’s own judgement is not harmful but over time the prejudices may become poisonous and damaging.

As it can be seen, there appear new arguments of racism and its ideology, justifying institutional, cultural and individual racism. While these new faces and arguments of racism try to cover the problem, racism and racist ideology are alive and existent in America. Racism affects us as individuals and the choices that we make in responding to it. Anti-racism education should require an immediate focus on each individual. The goal of the anti-racism education should be generation of development of individual consciousness, enabling people to become active initiators of the change in perception of racism. All people should be responsible for transformation of racism ideology. However, the situation is difficult because, while groups keep racism alive, the responsibility is not equally positioned. Yet, racism has always gone hand in hand with slavery, and it is a precedent to slavery.

Racism is evil. It is not a social problem that will gradually disappear through education and legislation. These alleviate the symptoms, but no more than that. The only cure is in understanding that evil is real. In the words of Jeffrey Burton Russell,

The essence of evil is abuse of a sentient being, a being that can feel pain. It is the pain that matters. Evil is grasped by the mind immediately and immediately felt by the emotions it is sensed as hurt deliberately inflicted. The existence of evil requires no further proof: I am therefore I suffer evil.

The definition implies two things: One, that every human being suffers evil. Two, every human being inflicts evil. Thus, the essence of the human condition is in how we live with evil.

Of necessity, then, evil has two faces – one is individual, the other is collective. That we as individuals will and do commit evil is unavoidable. Our efforts not to do evil, however, need the support of a collective, i.e. a society that not only recognizes evil but condemns it.

In her Gifford lectures, Hannah Arendt said: As citizens, we must prevent wrong-doing because the world in which we all live, wrong-doer, wrong-sufferer, and spectator, is at stake the City has been wronged….We could almost define a crime as that transgression of the law that demands punishment regardless of the one who has been wronged….the law of the land permits no option because it is the community as a whole that has been violated.

America is struggling to reach a consensus that racism violates the community as a whole. It cannot do so as long as blacks are still excluded from a sense of community.

Blacks have no doubts or questions about their humanity and thus are made to suffer evil, an evil that is still not obvious to the white majority. Racism is an act of evil but white people do not hear the moaning of the wounded or the death rattles of the dying.

The evil of slavery, the evil of the Holocaust are written large. So much so that many are in danger of thinking that these cataclysms are the only ways in which racist evil expresses itself. That is why it is both ironic and maddening that so many blacks equate anti-Semitism only with the Holocaust and thereby conclude that because they would never condone the extermination of Jews they are not and could not be anti-Semitic. Non-blacks are equally culpable when they equate racism solely with acts of violence.

Because our perception of evil is limited to the dramatic, we have lost the capacity to recognize it. Evil has become so prosaic in appearance, manner and style that it is now woven into the fabric of the normal like smog, acid rain and K-mart. Hannah Arendt maintained that the horror of evil in the Third Reich was that it had “lost the quality by which most people recognize it – the quality of temptation.” The racist evil of contemporary America is as charismatic as an empty can of cat food. In her Gifford lectures, Hannah Arendt attempted again to describe the figure of Adolf Eichmann and what had so horrified her about him:

I was struck by a manifest shallowness in the doer that made it impossible to trace the incontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer…was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous. There was no sign in him of firm ideological convictions or of specific evil motives, and the only noble characteristic one could detect in his past behavior as well as his behavior during the trial…was something entirely negative: it was not stupidity but thoughtlessness….It was this absence of thinking – which is so ordinary an experience in our everyday life, where we have hardly the time, let alone the inclination to stop and think – that awakened my interest. Is evildoing (the sins of omission, as well as the sins of commission) possible in default of not just “base motives”…but of any motives whatever, of any particular prompting of interest or volition? Is wickedness, however we may define it…not a necessary condition for evil- doing?

What Arendt saw in Eichmann is true of American society. This is not a country of wicked white people imbued with a virulent racism based on some principle or other. What exists is far more distressing. Racism has become a psychological habit, a habit many wish to dislodge, but it is so ingrained that they do not know where to begin. It is imperative, however, that they look, for as Goethe wrote in Wilhem Meister, “every sin avenges itself on earth.”

Where they must look is in themselves. Whites cannot feel the pain of blacks, Jews and women until they feel the pain they inflict on themselves by passively accepting a definition of Order that crowns whites as racially superior beings. I do not know why whites do not feel the evil they inflict on themselves because I see the evil of racism taking its revenge on a drug-addicted white society which did not care forty years ago when drugs appeared in black slums. If America had been able to feel then that black life is human, if America had been able to feel that racism is a silent evil inflicting pain as murderous to the human spirit as any weapon is to the body, it would have been alarmed and moved to alleviate the conditions that made drugs appear to be a viable alternative. If America had been able to conceive that black life is human life, thousands of white and black lives would not have been destroyed, literally and psychologically, since drugs entered white American society. I do not understand why white America cannot understand this simple principle: Everything white people do to black people, they will eventually do to each other.

The ultimate evil of racism is not in its effects, but in the inability of white people to recognize themselves in black people. This evil will continue until white people take responsibility for that which they wish was not within them, namely, evil.

Ultimately, we must accept that evil is, that it is not something out there but something in here. It cannot be expunged because our humanity lies as much in our capacity to evil as


The concept of "cultural racism" has been given various names, particularly as it was being developed by academic theorists in the 1980s and early 1990s. The British scholar of media studies and cultural studies Martin Barker termed it the "new racism", [1] whereas the French philosopher Étienne Balibar favoured "neo-racism", [2] and later "cultural-differential racism". [3] Another French philosopher, Pierre-André Taguieff, used the term "differentialist racism", [4] while a similar term used in the literature has been "the racism of cultural difference". [5] The Spanish sociologist Ramón Flecha instead used the term "postmodern racism". [6]

The term "racism" is one of the most controversial and ambiguous words used within the social sciences. [7] Balibar characterised it as a concept plagued by "extreme tension" as well as "extreme confusion". [8] This academic usage is complicated by the fact that the word is also common in popular discourse, often as a term of "political abuse" [9] many of those who term themselves "anti-racists" use the term "racism" in a highly generalised and indeterminate way. [10]

The word "racisme" was used in the French language by the late 19th century, where French nationalists employed it to describe themselves and their belief in the inherent superiority of the French people over other groups. [11] The earliest recorded use of the term "racism" in the English language dates from 1902, and for the first half of the 20th century the word was used interchangeably with the term "racialism". [12] According to Taguieff, up until the 1980s, the term "racism" was typically used to describe "essentially a theory of races, the latter distinct and unequal, defined in biological terms and in eternal conflict for the domination of the earth". [13]

The popularisation of the term "racism" in Western countries came later, when "racism" was increasingly used to describe the antisemitic policies enacted in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s. [14] These policies were rooted in the Nazi government's belief that Jews constituted a biologically distinct race that was separate from what the Nazis believed to be the Nordic race inhabiting Northern Europe. [15] The term was further popularised in the 1950s and 1960s amid the civil rights movement's campaign to end racial inequalities in the United States. [14] Following the Second World War, when Nazi Germany was defeated and biologists developed the science of genetics, the idea that the human species sub-divided into biologically distinct races began to decline. [16] At this, anti-racists declared that the scientific validity behind racism had been discredited. [13]

From the 1980s onward, there was considerable debate—particularly in Britain, France, and the United States—about the relationship between biological racism and prejudices rooted in cultural difference. [5] By this point, most scholars of critical race theory rejected the idea that there are biologically distinct races, arguing that "race" is a culturally constructed concept created through racist practices. [17] These academic theorists argued that the hostility to migrants evident in Western Europe during the latter decades of the twentieth century should be regarded as "racism" but recognised that it was different from historical phenomena commonly called "racism", such as racial antisemitism or European colonialism. [18] They therefore argued that while historic forms of racism were rooted in ideas of biological difference, the new "racism" was rooted in beliefs about different groups being culturally incompatible with each other. [19]

Definitions Edit

—Sociologist Uri Ben-Eliezer, 2004 [20]

Not all scholars to have used the concept of "cultural racism" have done so in the same way. [21] The scholars Carol C. Mukhopadhyay and Peter Chua defined "cultural racism" as "a form of racism (that is, a structurally unequal practice) that relies on cultural differences rather than on biological markers of racial superiority or inferiority. The cultural differences can be real, imagined, or constructed". [21] Elsewhere, in The Wiley‐Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory, Chua defined cultural racism as "the institutional domination and sense of racial‐ethnic superiority of one social group over others, justified by and based on allusively constructed markers, instead of outdated biologically ascribed distinctions". [22]

Balibar linked what he called "neo-racism" to the process of decolonization, arguing that while older, biological racisms were employed when European countries were engaged in colonising other parts of the world, the new racism was linked to the rise of non-European migration into Europe in the decades following the Second World War. [23] He argued that "neo-racism" replaced "the notion of race" with "the category of immigration", [24] and in this way produced a "racism without races". [23] Balibar described this racism as having as its dominant theme not biological heredity, "but the insurmountability of cultural differences, a racism which, at first sight, does not postulate the superiority of certain groups or peoples in relation to others but 'only' the harmfulness of abolishing frontiers, the incompatibility of lifestyles and traditions". [23] He nevertheless thought that cultural racism's claims that different cultures are equal was "more apparent than real" and that when put into practice, cultural racist ideas reveal that they inherently rely on a belief that some cultures are superior to others. [25]

Drawing on developments in French culture during the 1980s, Taguieff drew a distinction between "imperialist/colonialist racism", which he also called the "racism of assimilation", and "differentialist/mixophobic racism", which he also termed "the racism of exclusion". [26] Taguieff suggested that this latter phenomenon differed from its predecessor by talking about "ethnicity/culture" rather than "race", by promoting notions of "difference" in place of "inequality", and by presenting itself as a champion of "heterophilia", the love of difference, rather than "heterophobia", the fear of difference. [27] In this, he argued that it engaged in what he called "mixophobia", the fear of cultural mixing, and linked in closely with nationalism. [28]

The geographer Karen Wren defined cultural racism as "a theory of human nature where humans are considered equal, but where cultural differences make it natural for nation states to form closed communities, as relations between different cultures are essentially hostile". [29] She added that cultural racism stereotypes ethnic groups, treats cultures as fixed entities, and rejects ideas of cultural hybridity. [30] Wren argued that nationalism, and the idea that there is a nation-state to which foreigners do not belong, is "essential" to cultural racism. She noted that "cultural racism relies on the closure of culture by territory and the idea that 'foreigners' should not share the 'national' resources, particularly if they are under threat of scarcity." [30]

The sociologist Ramón Grosfoguel noted that "cultural racism assumes that the metropolitan culture is different from ethnic minorities' culture" while simultaneously taking on the view that minorities fail to "understand the cultural norms" that are dominant in a given country. [31] Grosfoguel also noted that cultural racism relies on a belief that separate cultural groups are so different that they "cannot get along". [31] In addition, he argued that cultural racist views hold that any widespread poverty or unemployment faced by an ethnic minority arises from that minority's own "cultural values and behavior" rather than from broader systems of discrimination within the society it inhabits. In this way, Grosfoguel argued, cultural racism encompasses attempts by dominant communities to claim that marginalised communities are at fault for their own problems. [32]

Alternative definitions of "cultural racism" Edit

As a concept developed in Europe, "cultural racism" has had less of an impact in the United States. [21] Referring specifically to the situation in the U.S., the psychologist Janet Helms defined cultural racism as "societal beliefs and customs that promote the assumption that the products of White culture (e.g., language, traditions, appearance) are superior to those of non-White cultures". [33] She identified it as one of three forms of racism, alongside personal racism and institutional racism. [33] Again using a U.S.-centric definition, the psychologist James M. Jones noted that a belief in the "cultural inferiority" both of Native Americans and African Americans had long persisted in U.S. culture, and that this was often connected to beliefs that said groups were biologically inferior to European Americans. [34] In Jones' view, when individuals reject a belief in biological race, notions regarding the relative cultural inferiority and superiority of different groups can remain, and that "cultural racism remains as a residue of expunged biological racism." [35] Offering a very different definition, the scholar of multicultural education Robin DiAngelo used the term "cultural racism" to define "the racism deeply embedded in the culture and thus always in circulation. Cultural racism keeps our racist socialization alive and continually reinforced." [36]

Cultural prejudices as racism Edit

Theorists have put forward three main arguments as to why they deem the term "racism" appropriate for hostility and prejudice on the basis of cultural differences. [19] The first is the argument that a belief in fundamental cultural differences between human groups can lead to the same harmful acts as a belief in fundamental biological differences, namely exploitation and oppression or exclusion and extermination. [19] As the academics Hans Siebers and Marjolein H. J. Dennissen noted, this claim has yet to be empirically demonstrated. [19]

The second argument is that ideas of biological and cultural difference are intimately linked. Various scholars have argued that racist discourses often emphasise both biological and cultural difference at the same time. Others have argued that racist groups have often moved toward publicly emphasising cultural differences because of growing social disapproval of biological racism and that it represents a switch in tactics rather than a fundamental change in underlying racist belief. [19] The third argument is the "racism-without-race" approach. This holds that categories like "migrants" and "Muslims" have—despite not representing biologically united groups—undergone a process of "racialization" in that they have come to be regarded as unitary groups on the basis of shared cultural traits. [19]

Critiques Edit

Several academics have critiqued the use of cultural racism to describe prejudices and discrimination on the basis of cultural difference. Those who reserve the term racism for biological racism for instance do not believe that cultural racism is a useful or appropriate concept. [37] The sociologist Ali Rattansi asked the question whether cultural racism could be seen to stretch the notion of racism "to a point where it becomes too wide to be useful as anything but a rhetorical ploy?" [38] He suggested that beliefs which insist that group identification require the adoption of cultural traits such as specific dress, language, custom, and religion might better be termed ethnicism or ethnocentrism and that when these also incorporate hostility to foreigners they may be described as bordering on xenophobia. [38] He does however acknowledge that "it is possible to talk of ‘cultural racism’ despite the fact that strictly speaking modern ideas of race have always had one or other biological foundation." [39] The critique "misses the point that generalizations, stereotypes, and other forms of cultural essentialism rest and draw upon a wider reservoir of concepts that are in circulation in popular and public culture. Thus, the racist elements of any particular proposition can only be judged by understanding the general context of public and private discourses in which ethnicity, national identifications, and race coexist in blurred and overlapping forms without clear demarcations." [39]

—Sociologist Ali Rattansi, 2007 [16]

Similarly, Siebers and Dennissen questioned whether bringing "together the exclusion/oppression of groups as different as current migrants in Europe, Afro-Americans and Latinos in the US, Jews in the Holocaust and in the Spanish Reconquista, slaves and indigenous peoples in the Spanish Conquista and so on into the concept of racism, irrespective of justifications, does the concept not run the risk of losing in historical precision and pertinence what it gains in universality?" [40] They suggested that in attempting to develop a concept of "racism" that could be applied universally, exponents of the "cultural racism" idea risked undermining the "historicity and contextuality" of specific prejudices. [41] In analysing the prejudices faced by Moroccan-Dutch people in the Netherlands during the 2010s, Siebers and Dennissen argued that these individuals' experiences were very different both from those encountered by Dutch Jews in the first half of the 20th century and colonial subjects in the Dutch East Indies. Accordingly, they argued that concepts of "cultural essentialism" and "cultural fundamentalism" were far better ways of explaining hostility to migrants than that of "racism". [42]

Baker's notion of the "new racism" was critiqued by the sociologists Robert Miles and Malcolm Brown. They thought it problematic because it relied on defining racism not as a system based on the belief in the superiority and inferiority of different groups, but as encompassing any ideas that saw a culturally-defined group as a biological entity. Thus, Miles and Brown argued, Baker's "new racism" relied on a definition of racism which eliminated any distinctions between that concept and others such as nationalism and sexism. [43] The sociologist Floya Anthias critiqued early ideas of the "neo-racism" for failing to provide explanations for prejudices and discrimination towards groups like the Black British, who shared a common culture with the dominant White British population. [44] She also argued that the framework failed to take into account positive images of ethnic and cultural minorities, for instance in the way that British Caribbean culture had often been depicted positively in British youth culture. [45] In addition, she suggested that, despite its emphasis on culture, early work on "neo-racism" still betrayed its focus on biological differences by devoting its attention to black people—however defined—and neglecting the experiences of lighter-skinned ethnic minorities in Britain, such as Jews, Romanis, the Irish, and Cypriots. [46]

In a 1992 article for Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, the geographer James Morris Blaut argued that in Western contexts, cultural racism replaces the biological concept of the "white race" with that of the "European" as a cultural entity. [48] This argument was subsequently supported by Wren. [29] Blaut argued that cultural racism had encouraged many white Westerners to view themselves not as members of a superior race, but of a superior culture, referred to as "European culture", "Western culture", or "the West". [48] He proposed that culturally racist ideas were developed in the wake of the Second World War by Western academics who were tasked with rationalising the white Western dominance both of communities of colour in Western nations and the Third World. [49] He argued that the sociological concept of modernization was developed to promote the culturally racist idea that the Western powers were wealthier and more economically developed because they were more culturally advanced. [49]

Wren argued that cultural racism had manifested in a largely similar way throughout Europe, but with specific variations in different places according to the established ideas of national identity and the form and timing of immigration. [50] She argued that Western societies used the discourse of cultural difference as a form of Othering through which they justify the exclusion of various ethnic or cultural 'others', while at the same time ignoring socio-economic inequalities between different ethnic groups. [30] Using Denmark as an example, she argued that a "culturally racist discourse" had emerged during the 1980s, a time of heightened economic tension and unemployment. [51] Based on fieldwork in the country during 1995, she argued that cultural racism had encouraged anti-immigration sentiment throughout Danish society and generated "various forms of racist practice", including housing quotas that restrict the number of ethnic minorities to around 10%. [52]

Wren compared anti-immigrant sentiment in 1990s Denmark to the Thatcherite anti-immigrant sentiment expressed in 1980s Britain. [53] The British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for instance was considered a cultural racist for comments in which she expressed concern about Britain becoming "swamped by people with a different culture". [47] The term has also been used in Turkey. In 2016, Germany's European Commissioner Guenther Oettinger stated that it was unlikely that Turkey would be permitted to join the European Union while Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remained the Turkish President. In response, Turkey's European Union Affairs Minister Omer Celik accused Germany of "cultural racism". [54]

The sociologist Xolela Mangcu argued that cultural racism could be seen as a contributing factor in the construction of apartheid, a system of racial segregation that privileged whites, in South Africa during the latter 1940s. He noted that the Dutch-born South African politician Hendrik Verwoerd, a prominent figure in establishing the apartheid system, had argued in favour of separating racial groups on the grounds of cultural difference. [55] The idea of cultural racism has also been used to explain phenomena in the United States. Grosfoguel argued that cultural racism replaced biological racism in the U.S. amid the 1960s civil rights movement. [56] Clare Sheridan stated that cultural racism was an applicable concept to the experiences of Mexican Americans, with various European Americans taking the view that they were not truly American because they spoke Spanish rather than English. [57] The Clash of Civilizations theory, put forward in the 1990s by the American theorist Samuel P. Huntington, has also been cited as a stimulus to cultural racism for its argument that the world is divided up into mutually exclusive cultural blocs. [58]

In the early 1990s, the scholar of critical pedagogy Henry Giroux argued that cultural racism was evident across the political right in the United States. In his view, conservatives were "reappropriating progressive critiques of race, ethnicity and identity and using them to promote rather than dispel a politics of cultural racism". [59] For Giroux, the conservative administration of President George H. W. Bush acknowledged the presence of racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S., but presented it as a threat to national unity. [60] Drawing on Giroux's work, the scholar of critical pedagogy Rebecca Powell suggested that both the conservative and liberal wings of U.S. politics reflected a culturally racist stance in that both treated European American culture as normative. She argued that while European American liberals acknowledge the existence of institutional racism, their encouragement of cultural assimilationism betrays an underlying belief in the superiority of European American culture over that of non-white groups. [61]

The scholar Uri Ben-Eliezer argued that the concept of cultural racism was useful for understanding the experience of Ethiopian Jews living in Israel. [62] After the Ethiopian Jews began migrating to Israel in the 1980s, various young members were sent to boarding school with the intention of assimilating them into mainstream Israeli culture and distancing them from their parental culture. [63] The newcomers found that many Israelis, especially Ashkenazis who adhered to ultra-orthodox interpretations of Judaism, did not regard them as real Jews. [64] When some white Israeli parents removed their children from schools with a high percentage of Ethiopian children, they denied accusations of racism, with one stating: "It's only a matter of cultural differences, we have nothing against blacks". [65]

2. Introduction: Globalism and Anti-Racism

The modern Globalist worldview is based almost entirely upon the myth that “racism” (also known as ‘ethno-centrism’ or ‘in-group preference’) is a modern, fabricated “ideology” or a “learned behavior,” rather than an inherent attribute of human nature — chimps live in ‘communities’, wolves live in ‘packs’, humans live in tribes and nations. The myth of “learned racism” goes hand-in-hand with the race denialist agenda, which claims that all humans, of any race or ethnic group, are literally biologically or genetically identical. Each precious individual is a perfectly interchangeable worker-consumer cog, ready to be slotted into the global industrial machine, where they will toil away until they’re crippled on death’s doorstep, at which point, they will be graciously allowed to “enjoy” their retirement.

  • Below: Studies plotting average in-group preference (aka “racism”) by ethnicity and political alignment.

Leftists and Globalists (themselves ardent ideologues) argue that the “ideology” of “racism” was invented by European colonialists in the 1700s, as a retroactive justification for “the oppression, persecution, and exploitation of People of Color.” Naturally, humanity had no concept of race and ethnicity until Europeans invented the modern scientific systems that we now use to biologically classify humanity (Linnaean Taxonomy, for example). Race- and ethnicity-based oppression, persecution, and exploitation simply did not exist nobody was pre-judged or discriminated against due to their ethnic origin or appearance. The entire world was one big happy, progressivist family — or so they would have you believe.

All of that is complete nonsense, of course. This propaganda, in its modern, refined form, was cooked up by the scheming Western Marxists who currently dominate Western academia. It was imposed upon society primarily by elite globalist organizations, such as UNESCO, many of which are headed by the students of the aforementioned Western Marxists. That being said, these ideas have a lengthy history, dating back to the foundations of Liberalism itself. See, for example, Rousseau’s “Noble Savage” or Locke’s “State of Nature” (whereby all men are “born free”). Unfortunately, the genealogy of these narratives is outside the scope of this article but will be covered at length in separate writings.

According to historian Irene Silverblatt, “Race thinking […] made social categories into racial truths.” Bruce David Baum, citing the work of Ruth Frankenberg, states, “the history of modern racist domination has been bound up with the history of how European peoples defined themselves (and sometimes some other peoples) as members of a superior ‘white race’.”


Why Globalists and Leftists promote such deranged historical revisionism is obvious: They believe that these myths legitimize the postwar progressivist regime that currently dominates the entire Western world. You could argue that claiming all ancient civilizations were diverse, progressive, multi-racial, Liberal democracies, ruled by enlightened transwomen of color, somewhat refutes their own Myth of Progress — but when has ideological consistency mattered to these people?

The insane theory that “racism” is a modern invention can be debunked by studying almost any pre-modern civilization. There is copious written and archaeological evidence that humans have always racially and ethnically categorized one another in some shape or form, just as we have always categorized plants, animals, landscapes, and so on. Although, it may not always have been conducted in the precise, systemic manner that it is today, the fact that humans are natural-born categorizers cannot be denied.

Ancient civilizations from Rome to China have produced numerous detailed ethnographies and histories, comparing and contrasting the behaviors and appearances of the various peoples they encountered throughout the world.

See, for example:
Chinese ‘Records of the Grand Historian’ by Sima Qian (94 BC)
Roman ‘Natural History’ by Pliny (77 AD), ‘Germania’ by Tacitus (98 AD)
Greek ‘Histories’ by Herodotus (430 BC)
Egyptian ‘Book of Gates’ (1500 BC)

This article will demonstrate, via a multitude of mainstream primary sources, that the ancient Greeks and Romans (ethnic Italians, rather than their imperial subjects) were not only racially aware and racially prejudiced, but that they believed racial and ethnic groups possessed immutable characteristics, judged them by skin color, championed early proto-Darwinist arguments, and praised ethnic or racial purity, while disparaging miscegenation (racial or ethnic mixing). Greco-Roman elites were often systemic and rational in their attitudes towards race and ethnicity, but always consistently bigoted. They were, by no means, race-blind, pro-“diversity” buffoons akin to modern Leftists and Globalists, as both groups so often claim. Greco-Roman society was the foundation of “scientific racism,” and equally as “bigoted” as modern European “White Supremacist” colonialists, if not more so, in many regards.

Race and Racism Theme Analysis

Like most of Toni Morrison’s novels, Sula studies the ways that black people struggle to live in America, a country with a notorious history of persecuting and oppressing black people.

Black characters in the novel face the weight of a history in which white Americans have consistently swindled blacks out of their property and their rights by manipulating laws, social norms, and even language itself. In the city of Medallion, where the novel is set, African-Americans have traditionally been confined to the Bottom—ironically the area with the highest altitude, and the least desirable neighborhood of the city. Whites promised blacks land on the “bottom”—meaning, seemingly land that was close to the Ohio River—then backed out of their promise by giving away land in the hills, supposedly the “bottom” of heaven. As the novel goes on, we see a more of this white manipulation of the African-American community, but becoming more and more sly. By the end of the book, it’s clear that whites have been systematically denying blacks in the Bottom their health care and heating, always saying that the extra resources will be used to pay for a supposed New River Road —a public works project that simply doesn’t exist. While there are almost no white characters in the book, the novel shows how the white establishment—often referred to simply as “they”—has used trickery (backed up by the cynical understanding that blacks have no legal representation, and thus can’t argue their position) to keep blacks as poor and as far from white communities as possible. “They” also try to keep blacks naïve and optimistic: always chasing for goals (such as the New River Road) that they’ll never attain.

In response to the racism they face, many of the blacks who live in the Bottom regard white culture with hatred. But because of the way white culture has shaped society, black people in the novel have no other concrete standard for beauty and sophistication other than whiteness. In this way (and despite the fact that the white establishment in Ohio clearly wants to keep them far away), many of the black characters in the Bottom are desperate to join the white community. Characters straighten their hair and painfully twist their own noses in an attempt to “look white.” Eventually, some blacks in the community gain enough money and power to move to white neighborhoods of Medallion. And yet when this does happen, these white communities move away, keeping the city of Medallion segregated. Blacks’ desire to join white communities comes to seem like another naïve, unreachable goal—just like the New River Road.

It’s crucial to understand the role of race and racism in Sula . The characters in the novel, almost all of whom are black, have been trained to think of themselves as second-class citizens, to hate their lot in life, and—in some cases—to hate each other for being black. By writing Sula , a book about the African-American experience in the 20th century, Morrison studies how a group strives for improvement in a society that’s been constructed to make this improvement impossible—a theme that’s relevant to readers of all races.

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