Prof. John Henrik Clarke on the Origins of Modern Racism

Prof. John Henrik Clarke
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Image from cover of "John Henrik Clarke--Master Teacher" by Barbara Eleanor Adams.

[From The Archives]

The late Prof. John Henrik Clarke on the Origins of Modern Racism

“Racism has its origins in that second rise of Europe in the 15th and 16th century. They had to justify what they were going to do to most of mankind. They were about to take over the whole world. Now there is a myth about the argument about whether the world was round or flat. That’s an old wise tale. The European had gained enough knowledge, had enough guns, and he had been hungry enough within the body of Europe so he decided that he was going to go out and conquer the world, be it round or flat. Now in order to understand the religious basis of racism we have to go back a Papal Bull issued in 1455 in an argument between Portugal and Spain. He turned to them impatiently and said ‘You are both authorized to reduce to servitude all infidel people.’ And it just so happened that most so-called infidels were non-European people, non-white people. Europe not only had its basis for the Slave Trade, and the same basis would be good for the colonial system that followed. Racism was created to justify the Slave Trade, to justify the colonial system, and to justify the ruthlessness that had to go into the making of modern capitalism.”


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