Races and Racism for Kids
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Races and Racism for Kids

Mummy portrait
An Egyptian portrait of two brothers
(Roman period, about 150 AD)

Biologically, there is no such thing as race. People come in a lot of different skin and hair colors, but there is no sharp division between them, only a gradual blending. And the color of your skin and your hair doesn't tell anything else about you: it doesn't tell whether you are smart or stupid, or whether you are nice or mean, or whether you are lazy or hard-working. So this page is not really so much about different races, as about how people long ago thought about skin color and language, and what they thought that meant.

From the Stone Age through the Middle Ages, all over the Mediterranean, Europe, and Western Asia, people don't actually seem to have been very interested in skin color. They did notice that northern people were generally lighter-skinned, and southern people were generally darker, but they didn't think that this meant anything else about them - and they were right. Most of the people we talk about on this site were in the middle: not pale white, and not dark brown either, but a sort of pale brown.

On the other hand, this doesn't mean that ancient and medieval people thought everyone was the same. They did divide people up into groups, and they did think that different groups had different characteristics, and generally of course they thought that their own group was the best.

West Asian people
Egyptian people
African people
Indian people
Chinese people
Main people page




Copyright 2012-2014 Karen Carr, Portland State University. This page last updated 2014.
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