To many, any distinction between racist and racialist may be a little academic. However, the differences are important. Race is used to denote any group of people, united by common descent and identified by skin colour and physiognomy. Common bonds are also usually expressed in terms of shared language, history, culture or outlook. In the nineteenth century, race became a social scientific tool to explain not only diverse characteristics and types, but also levels of development. It became a universal tool of categorisation, but also the key to understanding customs and behaviour.1 Racialism was thus a term used to describe differences between races.2 Racism, by contrast, is a belief that some races are inherently superior, and that others are inferior and those races therefore require different treatment. Stereotyping of temperamental qualities, intelligence, capacity for work and the ability to create a valuable culture typically follow. Explanations for racism vary: from economic needs to find and harness an underclass of slave labourers, to Satre’s explanation that racism was sexually motivated by a fear that another race would take its women.3
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Was the British Empire racialist or racist?
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number