Racism is one of the most important social issues of the modern world. It has affected millions of people worldwide, and is one of the deepest social problems in history. The history of what we call racism which is the discrimination of other groups on the basis of their different descent begins in the Early Modern Period. This worldwide issue has caused countless problems so it is imperative they we analyze this in order to better understand it. We will look at the origins of racism, its history, and its decline in the present alongside remaining vestiges of racism in our society.
To begin our discussion we will look at the origins of racism. The word racism comes from the German word rassen which meant “breed”. The early European explorers and colonists in the Americas and elsewhere viewed different peoples as having a different descent, and attributed to this descent different properties. They viewed different races as being superior or inferior to one another largely based on their perception of how they related to themselves. This would have a horrible effect on the relations between races in the following centuries as European colonial armies spread out in all directions of the world.
As Europeans colonized new areas of the world they would initiate caste systems of racial discrimination and rank the races as they saw fit. Over the centuries in what would become America as well as Central and South America many Africans had been brought as slaves because the Europeans felt they were an inferior slave race. As time passed and intellect and morality progressed people began to question this and to oppose it. New movements arose fighting for equality. This took its greatest form in the American Civil War. Over half a million people died in the war for the freedom and equality of African slaves.
Though the Civil War ended slavery discrimination lingered on in the form of Jim Crow laws and other forms of racial discrimination in the legal and social framework of the country and created deep tensions between many parts of the country. This would come to an end when the Civil Rights Movement was born in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This movement pushing for an end to racial discrimination and segregation would be lead by such great figures as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. With a great push by the Civil Rights Movement and many Americans increasing concern with social causes segregation and discrimination would be ended though for many they would linger on in their attitudes and viewpoints concerning other races. The history of racism has been a long and frightening one having brought such terrors as slavery and the holocaust. We must be always vigilant that this evil does not bring ruin yet again.
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