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The Source: Why Do Racial Ideologies Persist Across The Globe?

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Since the Spanish Inquisition of the 16th century, the ideology of racial division has been used to explain fundamental differences in how different groups behave and has been the justification for conquering or enslaving peoples. 

The idea of biological races has been thoroughly debunked in science, but in cultures across the globe these faux-theorems have manifested themselves in segregation, oppression, and genocide.

Here in the United States, we have seen these ideas well into the 20th century, with the use of Jim Crow laws and eugenics. 

Why do these outdated notions and cultural constructs persist? How are they being used today to make policy decisions? And what will it take to let them go?


  • Stephen Bronner, author of "The Bigot: Why Prejudice Exists" and Director of Global Relation at the Center for the study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights at Rutgers University.
  • Robert Sussman, author of "The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea" and professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis.
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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org