If you look up the word ´racism´ in a dictionary, you will probably find something similar to the following entry: ”Discrimination or prejudice based on race.” This short explanation suits well with my(and most others) definition, but it is important to remember that you can find many forms of racism, and the degree of racism varies.
Racism is a modern phenomenon. That doesn’t mean ethnic minorities didn’t suffer earlier in history, but the ideas behind the suppression they were exposed to was different from those of racism. Racism was born when imperialism and capitalism grew forward. The imperialists justified their robbing of third world countries with racist ideas. For example, they tried to convince Europeans and Americans that African people were inferior in intelligence, and therefor suited perfectly as slaves. Their black skin was also looked upon as the opposite of Christian ”lightness” and ”whiteness”. Imperialism, which laid the foundation for capitalism, was dependent on racism in order to exist.
Skincolour has been irrelevant in most of mankind’s history. Human beings have always traveled and met other people.
The Roman emperor Septimius Severus, who ruled from 193 to 211 B.C., was almost certainly black-skinned. The Roman Empire and the old Greece were both societies with slaves, but the slaves were brought from conquered territories. The rulers of these societies didn’t need to justify their suppression of human beings, by saying they were inferior, because everybody knew slavery was necessary to maintain the structure of society. People of different ”races” probably existed in all classes. A slave could in some cases regain her freedom, whether she was black or white.