The Ambiguity of Race and the “End of Racism”

Here’s an excerpt from a brief interview with Dr. Kwasi Konadu:

” … You can have racism without race…I’ll give you a historical note. In the 15th century Spain and Portugal, there were dominant and pejorative ideas about African peoples as savages, barbarians, non-Christians, and therefore heathens, and under Papal or Catholic doctrine these Africans could be enslaved. The concept of race wasn’t truly refined as we know it today, but there was racism. Take for instance, the first group of Africans taken from the Senegambia region, what is now Senegal and the Gambia, and transported to Portugal. They were stripped naked and paraded through the streets of the capital city, Lisbon. It was a spectacle. You can imagine, from the Africans’ perspective, the sheer terror of having all these white folks stare at you as kind of a voyeur, and especially with the belief these white folks were cannibals. That was the introduction of Africans into this and perhaps other early European societies. So, there were ideas about race and racism; however, race wasn’t fully refined, whereby it was linked to the institutional terror and injustices as we find today. But there was racism without race. So, racism need not race as an appendage in order to be real.”

Read the entire illuminating conversation here: Identity Politics: The Ambiguity of Race and the “End of Racism” | The Atlanta Post.


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