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Word Count: 664
The place to begin is to notice the essential difference between racist theory and racist practice Racism most fundamentally is practice the practice of discrimination at all levels from personal abuse to colonial oppression Racism is a form of practice which has been tremendously important in European society for several hundred years important in the sense that it is an essential part of the way the European capitalist system maintains itself It indeed is true that the very category of race--denoting primarily skin color--was first employed as a means of classifying human bodies by Francois Bernier a French physician in 1684 This reveals European racist practices at the level of intellectual codification since it serves to degrade and devalue non-Europeans Racist practice like all practice is cognized Rationalized and justified by a theory a belief-system about the nature of reality and the behavior which is appropriate to this cognized reality The word theory is better in this context than the word ideology because we are talking about a system of empirical beliefs not about the cultural bindings of belief But theory and practice do not have a one-to-one relationship One form of practice can be underlain by various different theories Since racism-as-practice discrimination is an essential part of the system we should not be surprised to discover that it has been supported by a historical sequence of different theories each consistent with the intellectual environment of a given era Putting the matter in a somewhat over-simplified form the dominant racist theory of the early nineteenth century was a biblical argument grounded in religion the dominant racist theory of the period from about 1850 to 1950 was a biological argument grounded in natural science the racist theory of today is mainly a historical argument grounded in the idea of culture history or simply culture Todays racism is cultural racism It is somewhat of a paradox that many are unaware of You can
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