Anti-racism includes beliefs, actions, movements, and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism.
According to the Anti-racism Digital Library "Anti-racism can be defined as some form of focused and sustained action, which includes inter-cultural, inter-faith, multi-lingual and inter-abled (i.e. differently abled) communities with the intent to change a system or an institutional policy, practice, or procedure which has racist effects."
The European colonization of the Americas by Christopher Columbus did not occur until 1492. However, two Papal bulls announced several decades before that event were designed to help ward off increasing Muslim invasions into Europe, which they believed would have an effect on the New World.
When Islam presented a serious military threat to Italy and Central Europe during the mid-15th century around the time of the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Pope Nicholas V tried to unite Christendom against them but failed. He then granted Portugal the right to subdue and even enslave Muslims whether white or any other race, pagans and other non-Christians in the papal bull Dum Diversas (1452). While this bull preceded the Atlantic slave trade by several decades, slavery and the slave trade were part of African societies and tribes which supplied the Arab world with slaves long before the arrival of the Europeans.
Increasingly, the Italian merchants from the wealthiest states in Italy, especially Genoa and Venice, joined in the lucrative trade of exotic domestic or workshop slaves. Previously, slavery had been forbidden in Christendom, except for Muslim Spain, Sicily, and their buffer border marches. Attitudes of racial superiority were imported from the Court of Granada, where the races were highly stratified.
The following year saw the Fall of Constantinople to Muslim conquerors of the ever-growing Ottoman Empire, which left the pope as the uncontested leader of Christendom. Several decades later, European explorers and missionaries spread Christianity to the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Pope Alexander VI had awarded colonial rights over most of the newly discovered lands by the Iberian Kingdoms of Castile and Portugal. Under their patronato system, however, Royal authorities, not the Vatican, controlled as in Europe all clerical appointments in the new colonies. Thus, the 1455 Papal bull Romanus Pontifex granted the Portuguese all lands behind Cape Bojador "allowing to reduce pagans and other enemies of Christ to perpetual servitude." Later, the 1481 Papal bull Aeterni regis granted all lands south of the Canary Islands to the Portuguese Empire, while in May 1493, the Aragonese-born Pope Alexander VIdecreed in the Bull Inter caetera that all lands west of a meridian only 100 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands should belong to the Spanish Empire while new lands discovered east of that line would belong to Portugal. These arrangements were later confirmed in the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas.
The European origins of racism spread to the Americas alongside the Europeans, but establishment views were questioned when applied to indigenous peoples. After the discovery of the New World many of the clergy sent to the New World, educated in the new Humane values of the Renaissance blooming but still new in Europe and not ratified by the Vatican, began to criticize Spain and their own Church's treatment and views of indigenous peoples and slaves.
In December 1511, Antonio de Montesinos, a Dominican friar, was the first man to openly rebuke the Spanish authorities and administrators of Hispaniola for their "cruelty and tyranny" in dealing with the American natives and those forced to labor as slaves. King Ferdinand enacted the Laws of Burgos and Valladolid in response. However enforcement was lax, and the New Laws of 1542 have to be made to take a stronger line. Because some people like Fray Bartolomé de las Casas questioned not only the Crown but the Papacy at the Valladolid Controversy whether the Indians were truly men who deserved baptism, Pope Paul III in the papal bull Veritas Ipsa or Sublimis Deus (1537) confirmed that the Indians and other races were deserving men, so long as they became baptized. Afterward, their Christian conversion effort gained momentum along social rights, while leaving the same status recognition unanswered for Africans of Black Race, and legal social racism prevailed towards the Indians or Asians. However, by then the last schism of the Reformation had taken place in Europe in those few decades along political lines, and the different views on the Value of human lives of different races were not corrected in the lands of Northern Europe, which would join the Colonial race at the end of the century and over the next, as the Portuguese and Spanish Empires waned. It would take another century, with the influence of the French Empire at its height, and its consequent Enlightenment developed at the highest circles of its Court, to return these previously inconclusive issues to the forefront of the political discourse championed by many intellectual men since Rousseau. These issues gradually permeated to the lower social levels, where they were a reality lived by men and women of different races from the European racial majority.
Prior to the American Revolution, a small group of Quakers including John Woolman and Anthony Benezet successfully persuaded their fellow members of the Religious Society of Friends to free their slaves, divest from the slave trade, and create unified Quaker policies against slavery. This afforded their tiny religious denomination some moral authority to help begin the Abolitionist movement on both sides of the Atlantic. Woolman died of smallpox in England in 1775, shortly after crossing the Atlantic to bring his anti-slavery message to the Quakers of the British Isles.
During and after the American Revolution, Quaker ministrations and preachings against slavery began to spread beyond their movement. In 1783, 300 Quakers, chiefly from the London area, presented the British Parliament with their signatures on the first petition against the slave trade. In 1785, Englishman Thomas Clarkson, enrolled at Cambridge, and in the course of writing an essay in Latin (Anne liceat invitos in servitutem dare (Is it lawful to enslave the unconsenting?), read the works of Benezet, and began a lifelong effort to outlaw the slave trade in England. In 1787, sympathizers formed the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, a small non-denominational group that could lobby more successfully by incorporating Anglicans, who, unlike the Quakers, could lawfully sit in Parliament. The twelve founding members included nine Quakers, and three pioneering Anglicans: Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson, and William Wilberforce – all evangelical Christians.
Later successes in opposing racism were won by the abolitionist movement, both in England and the United States. Though many Abolitionists did not regard blacks or mulattos as equal to whites, they did in general believe in freedom and often even equality of treatment for all people. A few, like John Brown, went further. Brown was willing to die on behalf of, as he said, "millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments ..." Many black Abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglass, explicitly argued for the humanity of blacks and mulattoes, and for the equality of all people.
Prior to and during the American Civil War, racial egalitarianism in the North became much stronger and more generally disseminated. The success of black troops in the Union Army had a dramatic impact on Northern sentiment. The Emancipation Proclamation was a notable example of this shift in political attitudes, although it notably did not completely extinguish legal slavery in several states. After the war, the Reconstruction government passed the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution to guarantee the rights of blacks and mulattoes. Many ex-slaves had access to education for the first time. Blacks and mulattoes were also allowed to vote, which meant that African-Americans were elected to Congress in numbers not equaled until the Voting Rights Act and the Warren Court helped re-enfranchise black Americans.
Due to resistance in the South, however, and a general collapse of idealism in the North, Reconstruction ended, and gave way to the nadir of American race relations. The period from about 1890 to 1920 saw the re-establishment of Jim Crow laws. President Woodrow Wilson, who regarded Reconstruction as a disaster, segregated the federal government. The Ku Klux Klan grew to its greatest peak of popularity and strength. D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation was a movie sensation.
In 1911 the First Universal Races Congress met in London, at which distinguished speakers from many countries for four days discussed race problems and ways to improve interracial relations.
Friedrich Tiedemann was one of the first people scientifically to contest racism. In 1836, using craniometric and brain measurements (taken by him from Europeans and black people from different parts of the world), he refuted the belief of many contemporary naturalists and anatomists that black people have smaller brains and are thus intellectually inferior to white people, saying it was scientifically unfounded and based merely on the prejudiced opinions of travelers and explorers. The evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin wrote in 1871 that ‘[i]t may be doubted whether any character can be named which is distinctive of a race and is constant’ and that ‘[a]lthough the existing races of man differ in many respects, as in colour, hair, shape of skull, proportions of the body, &c., yet if their whole structure be taken into consideration they are found to resemble each other closely in a multitude of points.’
At the start of the 20th century, the work of anthropologists trying to end the paradigms of cultural evolutionism and social Darwinism within social sciences—anthropologists like Franz Boas, Marcel Mauss, Bronisław Malinowski, Pierre Clastres and Claude Lévi-Strauss—began the initiative to the end of racism in human sciences and establish cultural relativism as the new dominant paradigm.
Racial equality: Paris 1919
Japan first proposed articles dedicated to the elimination of racial discrimination to be added to the rules of the League of Nations. This was the first proposal concerning the international elimination of racial discrimination in the world.
Although the proposal received a majority (11 out of 16) of votes, the chairman, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, overturned it saying that important issues should be unanimously approved. Billy Hughes and Joseph Cook vigorously opposed it as it undermined the White Australia policy.
Revival in the United States
Opposition to racism revived in the 1920s and 1930s. At that time, anthropologists such as Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and Ashley Montagu argued for the equality of humans across races and cultures. Eleanor Roosevelt was a very visible advocate for minority rights during this period. Anti-capitalist organizations like the Industrial Workers of the World, which gained popularity during 1905–1926, were explicitly egalitarian.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow laws were repealed in the South and blacks finally re-won the right to vote in Southern states. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an influential force, and his "I Have a Dream" speech is an exemplary condensation of his egalitarian ideology.
Egalitarianism has been a catalyst for feminist, anti-war, and anti-imperialist movements. Henry David Thoreau's opposition to the Mexican–American War, for example, was based in part on his fear that the U.S. was using the war as an excuse to expand American slavery into new territories. Thoreau's response was chronicled in his famous essay "Civil Disobedience", which in turn helped ignite Gandhi's successful campaign against the British in India. Gandhi's example in turn inspired the American civil rights movement.
As James Loewen notes in Lies My Teacher Told Me: "Throughout the world, from Africa to Northern Ireland, movements of oppressed people continue to use tactics and words borrowed from our abolitionist and civil rights movements." In East Germany, revolutionary Iran, Tiananmen Square, and South Africa, images, words, and tactics developed by human rights supporters have been used regularly and repeatedly.
Many of these uses have been controversial. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe has used anti-racist rhetoric to promote a land distribution scheme whereby privately held land is confiscated from white Rhodesians and distributed to blacks, which has resulted in widespread starvation (see Land reform in Zimbabwe).
White genocide theory
The phrase "Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white", coined by high-profile white nationalist Robert Whitaker, is commonly associated with the topic of white genocide, a white nationalist conspiracy theory that mass immigration, integration, miscegenation, low fertility rates and abortion are being promoted in predominantly white countries to deliberately turn them minority-white and hence cause white people to become extinct through forced assimilation. The phrase has been spotted on billboards near Birmingham, Alabama and in Harrison, Arkansas.
Anti-racist organizations and institutions
- European Commission against Racism and Intolerance
- UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
- World Conference against Racism
- Aktion Courage (Germany)
- Anti-Nazi League (United Kingdom)
- Les Indivisibles (France)
- SOS Racisme (France)
- Rock Against Racism (United Kingdom)
- Aktion Kinder des Holocaust (Switzerland)
- Anti-Fascist Action (United Kingdom)
- Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (United Kingdom)
- Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (Belgium)
- Félag Anti-Rasista (Iceland)
- Institute of Race Relations (United Kingdom)
- In IUSTITIA (Czech Republic)
- Love Music Hate Racism (United Kingdom)
- Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples (France)
- National Assembly Against Racism (United Kingdom)
- Newham Monitoring Project (United Kingdom)
- Residents Against Racism (Ireland)
- Show Racism the Red Card (United Kingdom)
- Stand Up to Racism (United Kingdom)
- Unite Against Fascism (United Kingdom)
- UNITED for Intercultural Action (all of Europe)
- Hepimiz Zokorayız (Turkey)
- Anti-Racism and Hate (United States)
- By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) (United States)
- Anti-Racist Action (North America)
- One People's Project (United States)
- Roots of Resistance (Canada) [defunct]
- Southern Poverty Law Center (United States)
- Red and Anarchist Skinheads (United States)
- Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (United States)
- Friends Stand United (United States)
- Catalyst Project (United States)
- Showing Up for Racial Justice (United States)
- The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond (United States)
- Affirmative action
- Anti-bias curriculum
- Color blindness (race) in the United States
- Environmental racism
- Environmental justice
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Internal resistance to apartheid
- Mandela Day
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
- Political correctness
- Scientific racism
- Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice
- Social criticism
- Social justice
- Anti-racism Digital Library
- Johansen, Bruce, The Native Peoples of North America, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 2006, p. 110, quote: "In the Papal bull Sublimis deus (1537), Pope Paul III declared that Indians were to be regarded as fully human, and that their souls were as immortal as those of Europeans. This edict also outlawed slavery of Indians in any form ..."
- Koschorke, A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (2007), p. 290
- "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow . Jim Crow Stories . Segregation in the U. S. Government". PBS.
- Fletcher, I. C. (1 April 2005). "Introduction: New Historical Perspectives on the First Universal Races Congress of 1911". Radical History Review. 2005 (92): 99–102. doi:10.1215/01636545-2005-92-99.
- "On the Brain of the Negro, compared with that of the European and the Orang-Outang" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-11-06.
- Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man.
- Fitzhardinge, L.F. "Hughes, William Morris (Billy) (1862–1952)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
- "UK anger over Zimbabwe violence". BBC News.
- McGreal, Chris (1 April 2007). "Corrupt, greedy and violent: Mugabe attacked by Catholic bishops after years of silence" – via The Guardian.
- Sentamu urges Mugabe action Archived October 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- "Billboard from 'white genocide' group goes up in Ala". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- "Where does that billboard phrase, 'Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white,' come from? It's not new". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- Kaplan, Jeffrey (2000). Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right. AltaMira Press. p. 539. ISBN 9780742503403. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
- Kivisto, Peter; Rundblad, Georganne (2000). Multiculturalism in the United States: Current Issues, Contemporary Voices. SAGE Knowledge. pp. 57–60. ISBN 9780761986485. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
- Capehart, Jonathan. "A petition to 'stop white genocide'?". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
- "'White Genocide' Billboard Removed". NBC News. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
- Sexton, Jared (2008). Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism. Univ Of Minnesota Press. pp. 207–08. ISBN 0816651043. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
- Perry, Barbara. "‘White Genocide’: White Supremacists and the Politics of Reproduction." Home-grown hate: Gender and organized racism (2001): 75–85.
- Eager, Paige Whaley (2013). From Freedom Fighters to Terrorists: Women and Political Violence. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 90. ISBN 9781409498575.
- Underwood, Madison (30 June 2014). "Where does that billboard phrase, 'Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white,' come from? It's not new". AL.com. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
- Byng, Rhonesha (7 November 2013). "Arkansas Town Responds To Controversial 'Anti-Racist Is A Code Word For Anti-White' Sign". Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
- "Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance".
- Bonnett, Alistair (1999) Anti-Racism, London: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-17120-5.
- Hughey, Matthew W. (2012) White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, ISBN 978-0-8047-7695-0.
- Michael, Ali (2014) Raising Race Questions, Teachers College Press.
- Wright, W. D. (1998) Racism Matters, Westport, CT: Praeger, ISBN 978-0-275-96197-8.
- Gil-Riaño, Sebastián. "Relocating anti-racist science: the 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race and economic development in the global South." The British Journal for the History of Science 51, no. 2 (2018): 281-303. DOI:10.1017/S0007087418000286
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