Racism


A race is a group of people who have the same skin color and physical features.  There are a few main races in the world, like Europeans or Caucasians, Blacks, or Asians.

Racists are people who believe that some races are better and more important than others. They think that their own race is the best and that other races are physically and mentally inferior to them. In many cases racists feel threatened by others. Racism exists in many countries. Minorities are often discriminated against and have problems getting jobs, houses or the same education as others.


There has been racism throughout history. Western scientists and philosophers have often tried to prove that white people are supreme to others. In the past, governments have often justified their legal and economic system with racism. It has led to slavery and even the cold-blooded murder of whole population groups. Racism has made people afraid of their leaders.

 

History of Racism

In ancient Greece and Rome, enemies were captured, made prisoners and turned into slaves. In ancient Egypt thousands of foreign slaves built the pyramids of Giza.

When the Age of Exploration began in the 15th century Europeans founded colonies in the New World. The English, Spanish and French tried to civilize Native Americans because they thought they were barbaric and different.

In the United States Blacks were kept as slaves for many centuries. They had to work on the cotton farms for no money at all. After they had been officially freed by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War they still continued to be discriminated against for decades. Racists groups such as the Ku Klux Klan emerged as a sign of white superiority and hatred towards Blacks.

Members of the Ku Klux Klan burn crosses in the American south

Members of the Ku Klux Klan burn crosses in the American south

 

Australia held racist attitudes towards the Aborigines.  In the early decades of the 20th century Aboriginal children were taken away from their families and civilized in a white environment.
During World War II Nazi Germany murdered over 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, the largest genocide in history.

In South Africa, the white government followed a policy of segregation which they called Apartheid. Whites, Blacks and Asians lived in separate areas, attended their own churches, hospitals and schools. Apartheid ended in 1990 when Nelson Mandela became the first Black president in the country and the ANC took over power.

 

Racism today

Although racism may not have the same influence today, it still exists. In Europe, right wing parties are very successful in their attempt to scare people by telling them there are too many foreigners in the country.
In America there is aggressiveness and often hate towards Hispanics, often considered to be unintelligent.
In sports, black athletes are often insulted by racist colleagues and spectators.

 

Sign on a segregated beach in Durban, South Africa

Sign on a segregated beach in Durban, South Africa during the Apartheid period - Guinnog

 

Related Topics

 

Words

  • Aborigines = native population of Australia; the people who lived there before Europeans came
  • although = while
  • ANC = African National Congress = leading party of South Africa; it came to power in 1990 and has been fighting for the rights of Blacks in South Africa
  • ancient = old
  • attempt = try
  • attend = go to
  • attitude = feeling
  • barbaric = very cruel and uncivilized
  • capture = to catch a person and keep them as prisoners
  • Caucasian = a member of the race of people with  white or pale skin
  • century = a hundred years
  • civilize = educate ; to make someone behave in a better way
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • discriminate against = to treat a person or a group of people differently  and in an unfair way
  • environment = the world around you
  • features = characteristics, physical appearance
  • foreign = from another country
  • found – founded = start something new
  • free = release; here: not be a slave anymore
  • genocide = the murder of a whole race or group of people
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • hatred = hate
  • inferior = lower than, not as good
  • influence = power, strength
  • justify = to show a good reason that something is right
  • lead – led = cause
  • mental = in your mind, brain
  • minority = a small group of people within a much larger group
  • physical = about the body
  • prisoner = someone who is captured and taken somewhere
  • prove = to show that something is true
  • racist = a person who hates someone of a different race or religion
  • right  wing = very conservative
  • scare = to make someone afraid
  • scientist = a person who works in a lab and is trained in science
  • segregation = when people of different groups are kept apart so that they can live and work separately
  • separate = their own
  • slave = a person who works for someone else without getting any money for it
  • slavery = the system of having slaves in a country
  • superiority= the situation of being better than others
  • supreme = the highest, best
  • throughout = in all of