race, racism

Race and racism permeate nearly every aspect of present-day American culture. Yet the concept of race as most people perceive it today is a relatively new one. While demonizing the “other” and the idea of grouping people by kinship dates to antiquity, grouping people by skin color only dates to the early modern era, and the systematic classification of people into defined races wasn’t reified until the eighteenth century, although it did not spring up de novo. Geraldine Heng, Cord Whitaker, and other scholars of race in the medieval period have shown that the seeds of our present-day concept of race date to medieval Europe. Likewise, the word race itself has its roots in medieval writing.

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