Essay On Racism

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Did The Ancient Perception of Blacks Constitute Racism?
Racism in the Greco-Roman Era In order to best evaluate if the ancient Roman perception of race, with regard to black people, was in fact racist there must be a thorough understanding of what racism is and what it is not. The perceived superiority of one race of people over another is the central tenet of racism. Racism solely exists where there are “discriminatory social structures based on and justified by an ideology of a biologically determined hierarchy” (Goldenberg 91). In other words, racism is a form of ethnocentrism wherein one group perceives themselves to be above another group. Furthermore, it is an “attitude toward individuals and groups of people which posits a direct and
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Their bodies were squalid with long nails curved similar to an animal’s talon and they possessed shrill voices. In addition to such a beastial depiction, they exhibited a wild personality and a character defined more by their manner of living than by their temperament (Diodorus 189). For instance, the majority of the people of Africa wore sparse clothing, just enough to provide some necessary heat protection from the brutal desert sun. These simple coverings were constructed from that which was on hand such as the skins of their herd animals which produced no wool on account of the sweltering climate they inhabited. The Greeks and Romans found the African peoples had an uncivilized manner because it was quite different from their own. However, there is no evidence that the ancient Greek and Roman people associated the African natives practices with an inferior mental …show more content…
By the 5th century BCE, the Greeks knew that there were many different black peoples living in Africa, south of Egypt (Snowden 46, Pomponius 193, Pliny 194). For instance, many lived in the great city center of Meroe, others inhabited both sides of the Nile river, and some lived in the inlands of Libya (Diodorus 189 & Pomponius 193). Relating to geography, another popular belief of the time period was that regions with extreme heat were inferior to those with a temperate climate because of the distinct differences in the way of life and the lack of basic human necessities resulting from this heat (Strabo 192). Unlike their ancient Greco-Roman counterparts, indigenous Africans primarily sustained themselves on the meat, milk, and cheese from their flocks which included sheep, goat, and oxen. Additionally, as hunter/gatherers they eked out a living by consuming the also reeds growing in the water, the sesame and lotus which they planted, grass, twigs, millet, barley, and clovers (Diodorus 189 & Strabo 192). The variance in geographic location certainly contributed to the hardened lifestyle experienced by the blacks, but the Greeks and Romans did not consider themselves superior because they inhabited a more favorable environment. In addition to this so called environmental theory, the Greeks and Romans possessed ideas relating

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