Politics in Minutes (2016)

Race and politics

What are now loosely referred to as ‘racial’ issues became more important politically through the effects of imperialism and the slave trade, and the nationalist movements prompted by them. The term ‘race’ is itself controversial and has been used to refer to many different aspects of what would be more accurately called ethnicity – involving culture, language and religion, as well as physical differences between different groups, such as skin colour.

The attitude that one ethnic group is superior to another forms a dark side of ethnic nationalism, and can be reflected in the relations between countries of predominantly different ethnicities. Even within countries, minority ethnic groups are often treated with suspicion or hostility. This may result in overt – and sometimes state-sanctioned – discrimination and segregation, denying certain people the same rights and freedoms as the majority. Less obvious forms of prejudice put race and ethnicity squarely on the political agenda.