A three-part British documentary series originally broadcast on BBC Four in March 2007.

Racism: A History - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 60 minutes

Premier: 2007-03-21

Racism: A History - Racism: A History - Netflix

Racism: A History is a three-part British documentary series originally broadcast on BBC Four in March 2007. It was part of the season of programmes broadcast on the BBC marking the 200th anniversary of the Slave Trade Act 1807, a landmark piece of legislation which abolished the slave trade in the British Empire. The series explores the impact of racism on a global scale and chronicles the shifts in the perception of race and the history of racism in Europe, the Americas, Australia and Asia. The series was narrated by Sophie Okonedo.

Racism: A History - Synopsis - Netflix

The magnitude and conditions of the slave trade are explained centring on a tour of Bunce Island - the role of Sir John Hawkins, the brutal treatment and resulting deaths that provided the greatest wealth the growing capitalist system could build on. It engendered a mutual relationship built on fear, with slave owners becoming an armed camp controlling the labourers. The need for African slaves came about when the writings of the Dominican monk Bartolomé de las Casas in 1552 led to the enslaving of Native Americans being outlawed by the Spanish crown. The horrors and atrocities leading to the prohibition become clear in the telling. In his interview, Dr Barnor Hesse shows how the system that produces race is the colonial system, projecting onto the native populations the category of Indian or Negro, the legal, anthropological and finally biological debates that turn all different peoples into objects of investigation, two elements that progress hand in hand - the institutions keeping the colonial system in place and the debates relating to the nature of the populations. The theories of polygenism, the preoccupations of philosophers like John Locke and others gradually created the black stereotype exploited by the entertainment industry with Shakespeare's Caliban as its earliest personification - predestined and bred to be a slave, animalistic, sexually obsessed and savage. In this way racism becomes the justification of the slave system, backed up by Aristotle's indication that slavery was a natural state, and the legend of Noah's curse on Ham. In the middle of the 18th century, some Christian thinkers began to see slavery as a sin for the first time since the beginnings of Christianity, which had always regarded slavery as part of the natural order, an unfortunate situation. The Native Americans were not slaves, but colonisation nevertheless left most of them dead or displaced. The American nation became very unfriendly to Native Americans and began its programmed extermination. But once these had been evicted, they were taken into the white cultural identity like a symbol. Intermarriage was not taboo as was white/black intermarriage, where the one-drop rule applied. The philosophers of the Enlightenment developed views that some people are more equal than others, supporting a white elite amongst the four tiers of race. It was as if the other races were a different species without the right to sign contracts and be a part of society. Philosophy till today whitewashes race out of the view of these humanist enlightened philosophers. In South America there was a more liberal mixing of populations in intermarriage, far fewer Spaniards or Portuguese emigrating to South America. The US the system of solidarity among whites precluding an active white working class, with the poorest among whites being generally the most racist and the higher echelons of society more integrated, is contrasted to South America, where the upper echelons were more racist, almost purely white and the lower classes integrated. The tragedy of Sierra Leone, of the marginalisation of Olaudah Equiano, or Gusavus Vassa in favour of William Wilberforce are given as examples of the mind set of white domination and finally the Haitian war of Independence beginning in 1791 and its aftermath until today. This revolution was the only one that outlawed slavery and discrimination on the basis of race. The costs to Haiti were enormous, yet it marked the gradual end of slavery, which ended in the British Empire in 1833, in the US with the American Civil War and in South America in 1888. However, the quality of life for the ex-slaves was no different than before, their rights curtailed and their options limited to the same work they had done before. Abolition was by no means an anti-racist movement, but the basis for a greater empire.

Racism: A History - References - Netflix