Racism During The Renaissance And Reformation Essay

Racism During The Renaissance And Reformation Essay

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Racism occurs when one ethnic group or people as a whole controls, excludes, or tries to exclude another on the idea of the differences that it believes are genetic and cannot be changed. A belief base for racism came to a realization in the Americas during the modern period. No clear and explicit evidence of racism has been found in other cultures or in Europe before the modern period. The identification of the Jews with the devil and witchcraft in the general public of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was perhaps the first sign of a racist view of the world. Real support for such attitudes came in sixteenth century Spain when Jews who had converted to Christianity and their descendants became the victims of a regular pattern of discrimination and segregation.

The period of the Renaissance and Reformation was also the time when Europeans were coming into increasing contact with people of darker skin-color in Africa, Asia, and the Americas and were making conclusions about them. The reasoning for enslaving Africans was that they were unconverted and unbelievers of God, associated between darkness and evil but slave traders and slave owners sometimes took a passage from the book of Genesis as their justification. Ham, derives from the Hebrew Ch’m, associated with being black and burnt. The story was subsequently used to underpin theories of the origin of Africans and to justify their enslavement. (Rattansi p.17) When the state of Virginia decreed in 1667 that converted slaves could be kept in bondage, not because they were actual unbelievers but because they had unbelieving ancestors, the rationalization for black enslavement was as a result changed from religious to something along the lines of race. In the seven...

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...ishments and persons against those thought to be ethnically different can long continue and even grow under the illusion of non-racism, as those who study the history of Brazil have recently discovered. (Rattansi p.172) The use of supposedly deep rooted cultural differences as a reasoning for aggression and discrimination against newcomers from the Third World in several European countries has led to accusations of a new "cultural racism." The recent examples of a culture that functions on racial determination are not in fact unique. Instead, they just represent a return to the way that the differences between groups could be made to seem impossible to remove and reconnect before the ideas of a scientific or realistic idea of race in the eighteenth century.


Rattansi, Ali. Racism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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