Racial segregation

Racial segregation separation of different racial groups in daily life, such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a rest room, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home. Segregation may be mandated by law or exist through social norms. Segregation may be maintained by means ranging from discrimination in hiring and in the rental and sale of housing to certain races to vigilante violence such as lynchings; a situation that arises when members of different races mutually prefer to associate and do business with members of their own race would usually be described as separation or de facto separation of the races rather than segregation. Legal segregation was required and came with "anti-miscegenation laws" (prohibitions against interracial marriage) and laws against hiring people of the race that is the object of discrimination in any but menial positions. There were laws passed against discrimination `and slavery in the 1960s.

Segregation in hiring practices contributes to economic imbalance between the races. Segregation, however, often allowed close contact in hierarchical situations, such as allowing a person of one race to work as a servant for a member of another race. Segregation can involve spatial separation of the races, and/or mandatory use of different institutions, such as schools and hospitals by people of different races.

Historical cases

Anglo-Saxon England

Segregation may have existed in early Anglo-Saxon England, restricting intermarriage and resulting in the displacement of the British population in favour of Germanic ones. According to research led by University College London, Anglo-Saxon settlers enjoyed a substantial social and economic advantage over the native Celtic Britons who lived in what is now England, for more than 300 years from the middle of the 5th century. However, in contradiction Stephen Oppenheimer and Bryan Sykes argue that the Anglo-Saxons had relatively little genetic impact on England.

Visigothic Spain

The first part of the Visigothic period was characterised by a system of segregation. Intermarriage between Visigoth migrants and Roman natives was forbidden in Visigothic France and Spain in the late 5th and early 6th century. The Germanic Visigoths and Hispano-Romans were separate; each nationality had its own priests and churches, its own courts, judges, and civil services.

Jewish segregation

Jews in Western Europe generally were forced, by decree or by informal pressure, to live in highly segregated ghettos and shtetls. In the Russian Empire, Jews were restricted to the so-called Pale of Settlement, the Western frontier of the Russian Empire corresponding roughly to the modern-day countries of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.. By the early 20th century, the majority of European Jews lived in the Pale of Settlement.

Jewish population were confined to mellahs in Morocco beginning from the 15th century. In cities, a mellah was surrounded by a wall with a fortified gateway. In contrast, rural mellahs were separate villages inhabited solely by the Jews.

In the middle of the 19th century, J. J. Benjamin wrote about the life of Persian Jews:

"…they are obliged to live in a separate part of town…; for they are considered as unclean creatures… Under the pretext of their being unclean, they are treated with the greatest severity and should they enter a street, inhabited by Mussulmans, they are pelted by the boys and mobs with stones and dirt… For the same reason, they are prohibited to go out when it rains; for it is said the rain would wash dirt off them, which would sully the feet of the Mussulmans… If a Jew is recognized as such in the streets, he is subjected to the greatest insults. The passers-by spit in his face, and sometimes beat him… unmercifully… If a Jew enters a shop for anything, he is forbidden to inspect the goods… Should his hand incautiously touch the goods, he must take them at any price the seller chooses to ask for them... Sometimes the Persians intrude into the dwellings of the Jews and take possession of whatever please them. Should the owner make the least opposition in defense of his property, he incurs the danger of atoning for it with his life... If... a Jew shows himself in the street during the three days of the Katel (Muharram)…, he is sure to be murdered."

Qing dynasty China

Following their conquest of China and establishment of the Qing dynasty in 1644, the Manchus were keenly aware their minority status. They implemented a strict policy of racial segregation between the Manchus and Mongols on the one hand and the Han Chinese on the other. This ethnic segregation had cultural and economic reasons: intermarriage was forbidden to keep up the Manchurian heritage and minimize sinicization. In addition, in 1668 all Han Chinese were banned from settling in Manchuria (see Willow Palisade).

The policy of segregation applied directly to the Banner garrisons, most of which occupied a separate walled zone within the cities in which they were stationed. (The banners provided the basic framework for the Manchu military organization.) In cities where there were limitations of space, such as in Qingzhou (青州), a new fortified town was purposely erected to house the Banner garrison and their families. In Beijing, the imperial seat, the Regent Dorgon had the entire Chinese population forcibly relocated to the southern part of the city, which became known as the "Outer Citadel" (外城 wàichéng). The northern walled city was called the "Inner Citadel" (內城 nèichéng) and portioned out to the remaining Manchu eight Banners, each responsible for guarding a section of the Inner Citadel around the Forbidden City palace complex (紫禁城 Zǐjìnchéng).

While the Manchus followed the governmental structure of the preceding Ming dynasty, their ethnic policy dictated that appointments were split between Manchu noblemen and Han officials who had passed the highest levels of the state examinations. The Qing emperors made sure that all important matters were decided in the "Inner Court", which was dominated by the imperial family and Manchu nobility and which was located in the northern part of the Forbidden City.

It was only in the 19th century that segregation began to break down and in the 20th century the Manchus merged into the mass of the Chinese people.

Latin America

Many Latin American countries have caste systems based on classification by race and race mixture. An entire nomenclature developed, including the familiar terms "mulato", "mestizo", and "zambo" (whence "sambo"). The caste system was imposed during colonial rule by the Spanish and Portuguese who had practiced a form of caste system in Hispania prior to the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims. While many Latin American countries have long since rendered the system officially illegal through legislation, usually at the time of independence from Spain, prejudice based on degrees of perceived racial distance from Spanish ancestry combined with one's socioeconomic status remain, an echo of the colonial caste system.

Nazi Germany (1933-1945)

A ban of interracial marriage was part of the Nuremberg Laws enacted by the Nazis in Germany against the German Jewish community during the 1930s. The laws prohibited marriages between Jews and Aryan Germans, which were classified as different races.

Under the General Government of occupied Poland in 1940, the population was divided into different groups, each with different rights, food rations, allowed strips in the cities, public transportation, etc.

During the 1930s and 40s, Jews in Nazi-controlled states were made to wear yellow ribbons or stars of David, and were, along with Romas (Gypsies) discriminated against by the racial laws. Jewish doctors and professors were not allowed to treat Aryan (effectively, gentile) patients or teach Aryan pupils, respectively. The Jews were also not allowed to use any public transportation, besides the ferry, and would only be able to shop from 3-5 in Jewish stores. After Kristallnacht ("The Night of Broken Glass"), the Jews were fined 1,000,000 marks for damages done by the Nazi troops and SS members. Jews and Roma were subjected to genocide as "racial" groups in the Holocaust.

Ghettos were established by the Nazis to confine Jews and sometimes Romas into tightly packed areas of the cities of Eastern Europe turning them into de-facto concentration camps. The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of these Ghettos, with 400,000 people and the Łódź Ghetto, the second largest, holding about 160,000.

Between 1939 and 1945, at least 1.5 million Polish citizens were transported to the Reich for forced labour, against their will (in all, about 12 million forced laborers were employed in the German war economy inside the Nazi Germany). Although Nazi Germany also used forced laborers from Western Europe, Poles, along with other Eastern Europeans viewed as racially inferior, were subject to deeper discriminatory measures. They were forced to wear identifying purple tags with P's sewn to their clothing, subjected to a curfew, and banned from public transportation. While the treatment of factory workers or farm hands often varied depending on the individual employer, Polish laborers as a rule were compelled to work longer hours for lower wages than Western Europeans — and, in many cities, they were forced to live in segregated barracks behind barbed wire. Social relations with Germans outside work were forbidden, and sexual relations ("racial defilement") were punishable by death.

Rhodesia (20th century)

The British colony of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), under Ian Smith, leader of the white minority government, declared unilateral independence in 1965. For the next 15 years, Rhodesia operated under white minority rule until international sanctions forced Smith to hold multiracial elections, after a brief period of British rule in 1979.

Laws enforcing segregation had been around before 1965, although many institutions simply ignored them. One highly publicized legal battle occurred in 1960 involving the opening of a new Theatre that was to be open to all races, this incident was nicknamed "The Battle of the Toilets".

South Africa (20th century)

Apartheid was a system which existed in South Africa for over forty years, although the term itself had a history going back to the 1910s and unofficially before that for many years. It was formalized in the years following the victory of the National Party in the all-white national election of 1948, increased in dominancy under the rule of Prime Minister Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd and remained law until 1994. Examples of apartheid policy introduced are the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, 1951, which made marriage between races illegal.

Apartheid was abolished following a rapid change in public perception of racial segregation throughout the world, and an economic boycott against South Africa which had crippled and threatened to destroy its economy.

United States (19th-20th century)

After the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in America, racial discrimination became regulated by the so called Jim Crow laws, which mandated strict segregation of the races. Though such laws were instituted shortly after fighting ended in many cases, they only became formalized after the end of Republican-enforced Reconstruction in the 1870s and 80s during a period known as the nadir of American race relations. This legalized segregation lasted up to the 1960s, primarily through the deep and extensive power of Southern Democrats.

While the majority in 1896 Plessy overtly upheld only "separate but equal" facilities (specifically, transportation facilities), Justice John Marshall Harlan in his dissent protested that the decision was an expression of white supremacy; he predicted that segregation would "stimulate aggressions … upon the admitted rights of colored citizens," "arouse race hate" and "perpetuate a feeling of distrust between [the] races.

Institutionalized racial segregation was ended as an official practice by the efforts of such civil rights activists as Clarence Mitchell, Jr., Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., working during the period from the end of World War II through the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 supported by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Many of their efforts were acts of non-violent civil disobedience aimed at disrupting the enforcement of racial segregation rules and laws, such as refusing to give up a seat in the black part of the bus to a white person (Rosa Parks), or holding sit-ins at all-white diner.

By 1968 all forms of segregation had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and by 1970, support for formal legal segregation had dissolved. Formal racial discrimination was illegal in school systems, businesses, the American military, other civil services and the government. Separate bathrooms, water fountains and schools all disappeared and the civil rights movement had the public's support.

Since then, African-Americans have played a significant role as mayors, governors, and state officials in both Southern and Northern states and on the national level have been on the Supreme Court, in the House of Representatives and the Senate, in presidential cabinets, and as head of the joint chiefs of staff.

Not all racial segregation laws have been repealed in the United States, although Supreme Court rulings have rendered them unenforceable and illegal to carry out. For instance, the Alabama Constitution still mandates that Separate schools shall be provided for white and colored children, and no child of either race shall be permitted to attend a school of the other race. A proposal to repeal this provision was narrowly defeated in 2004.

Redlining is the practice of denying or increasing the cost of services, such as banking, insurance, access to jobs, access to health care, or even supermarkets to residents in certain, often racially determined, areas. The most devastating form of redlining, and the most common use of the term, refers to mortgage discrimination. Over the next twenty years, a succession of further court decisions and federal laws, including the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and measure to end mortgage discrimination in 1975, would completely invalidate de jure racial segregation and discrimination in the U.S., although de facto segregation and discrimination have proven more resilient. According to the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, the actual de facto desegregation of U.S. public schools peaked in the late 1980s; since that time, the schools have, in fact, become more segregated mainly due to the ethnic segregation of the nation with whites dominating the suburbs and minorities the urban centers. As of 2005, the present proportion of black students at majority white schools "are a level lower than in any year since 1968."

Contemporary segregation


Two military coups in Fiji in 1987 removed from power a government that was led by an ethnic Fijian, but was supported principally by the Indo-Fijian (ethnic Indian) electorate. A new constitution was promulgated in 1990, establishing Fiji as a republic, with the offices of President, Prime Minister, two-thirds of the Senate, and a clear majority of the House of Representatives reserved for ethnic Fijians, Ethnic Fijian ownership of the land was also entrenched in the constitution.

Fiji's case is a situation of defacto ethnic segregation.. Fiji has a long complex history with more than 3500 years as a divided Tribal nation. Unification under the British rule as a Colony for 96 years bought other racial groups, particularly immigrants from the Indian sub-continent.

Independent Fiji's young democracy has been troubled by some tension between the Indigenous Fijians and the Indo-Fijians at a Political level along with provincial differences also and this combined has caused some challenges with the Nation moving forward clearly.


Some activists consider that the Hindu caste system is a form of racial discrimination. The participants of the United Nations Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in March 2001, condemned discrimination due to the caste system, and tried to pass a resolution declaring that caste as a basis for the segregation and oppression of peoples in terms of their descent and occupation is a form of apartheid. However, no formal resolution was passed to that effect

India's treatment of Dalits has been described by some authors as as "India's hidden apartheid". Critics of such accusations point out the substantial improvements in the rights of Dalits (former "Untouchables") enshrined in the Constitution of India (primarily written by a Dalit, Ambedkar), which is the principal object of article 17 in the Constitution as implemented by the Protection of Civil rights Act, 1955 and the fact that India has had a Dalit, K.R. Narayanan, for a president, as well as the disappearance of the practise in urban public life.

Such allegations of apartheid are also regarded by academic sociologists as a political epithet, since apartheid implies state sponsored discrimination, and no such thing exists in India.India is a sovereign, secular, socialist, democratic republic, and the Constitution of India places special emphasis on outlawing caste discrimination, especially the practice of untouchability. In addition, the Indian penal code inflicts severe punishments on those who discriminate on the basis of caste. Anti-dalit prejudice and discrimination is a social malaise that exists primarily in rural areas, where small societies can track the caste lineage of individuals and discriminate accordingly. Sociologists Kevin Reilly, Stephen Kaufman, Angela Bodino, while being critical of casteism, conclude that modern India does not practice any "apartheid" since there is no state sanctioned discrimination. They write that Casteism in India is presently "not apartheid. In fact, untouchables, as well as tribal people and members of the lowest castes in India benefit from broad affirmative action programmes and are enjoying greater political power."

Such allegations have also been rejected by many sociologists such as Andre Béteille, who writes that treating caste as a form of racism is "politically mischievous" and worse, "scientifically nonsense" since there is no discernible difference in the racial characteristics between Brahmins and Scheduled Castes. He writes that "Every social group cannot be regarded as a race simply because we want to protect it against prejudice and discrimination.

Pakistani-American sociologist Ayesha Jalal also rejects these allegations. In her book, "Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia", she writes that "As for Hinduism, the hierarchical principles of the Brahmanical social order have always been contested from within Hindu society, suggesting that equality has been and continues to be both valued and practiced.


Malaysia has an article in its constitution which distinctly segregates the ethnic Malays and other indigenous peoples of Malaysia---i.e bumiputra---from the non-Bumiputra under the social contract, of which by law would guarantee the former certain special rights and privileges. To question these rights and privileges however is strictly prohibited under the Internal Security Act, legalised by the 10th Article(IV) of the Constitution of MalaysiaThe privileges mentioned herein covers---few of which---the economical and education aspects of Malaysians, e.g. the NEP; an economic policy recently criticised by Thierry Rommel---who headed a European Commission's delegation to Malaysia---as an excuse for "significant protectionism and a quota maintaining higher access of Malays into public universities. This system of segregation, seen as a form of apartheid by its opponent.


Slavery in Mauritania was finally criminalized in August 2007 It was already abolished in 1980 though it was still affecting the descendants of black Africans abducted into slavery before generations, who live now in Mauritania as "black Moors" or haratin and who partially still serve the "white Moors", or bidhan (the name means literally white-skinned people), as slaves. The number of slaves in the country was not known exactly, but is was estimated to be up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population.

For centuries, the so-called Haratin lower class, mostly poor black Africans living in rural areas, have been considered natural slaves by white Moors of Arab/Berber ancestry. Many descendants of the Arab and Berber tribes today still adhere to the supremacist ideology of their ancestors. This ideology has led to oppression, discrimination and even enslavement of other groups in the region of Sudan and Western Sahara. In certain villages in Mauritania there are mosques for lighter-skinned nobles and mosques for black slaves, who are still buried in separate cemeteries.

Northern Ireland

Since the 16th century Plantation of Ulster, Loyalist Protestants and Irish Catholics have lived in a highly segregated state in northern Ireland, with large divisions existing today regarding education, housing, intermarriage and employment.


See also Castes in Yemen
In Yemen, the Arabic elite practices an unofficial form of discrimination against the lower class Akhdam people.

United States

Black-white segregation is declining fairly consistently for most metropolitan areas in the US. Despite these pervasive patterns, many changes for individual areas are small. Racial segregation or separation can lead to social, economic and political tensions. Thirty years after the civil rights era, the United States remains a residentially segregated society in which Blacks, Whites and Hispanics (whether black, white or yellow) inhabit different neighborhoods of vastly different quality.

Dan Immergluck writes that in 2002 small businesses in black neighborhoods still received fewer loans, even after accounting for businesses density, businesses size, industrial mix, neighborhood income, and the credit quality of local businesses. Gregory D. Squires wrote in 2003 that it is clear that race has long affected and continues to affect the policies and practices of the insurance industry. Workers living in American inner-cities have a harder time finding jobs than suburban workers.

The desire of many whites to avoid having their children attend integrated schools has been a factor in white flight to the suburbs. Recent studies in San Francisco showed that groups of homeowners tended to self-segregate in order to be with people of the same education level and race. By 1990, the legal barriers enforcing segregation had been mostly replaced by decentralized racism, where whites pay more than blacks to live in predominantly white areas. Today, many whites are willing, and are able, to pay a premium to live in a predominantly white neighborhood. Equivalent housing in white areas commands a higher rent. By bidding up the price of housing, many white neighborhoods again effectively shut out blacks, because blacks are unwilling, or unable, to pay the premium to buy entry into white neighborhoods. Through the 1990s, residential segregation remained at its extreme and has been called "hypersegregation" by some sociologists or "American Apartheid

In February 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Johnson v. California that the California Department of Corrections' unwritten practice of racially segregating prisoners in its prison reception centers — which California claimed was for inmate safety (gangs in California, as throughout the U.S., usually organize on racial lines)— is to be subject to strict scrutiny, the highest level of constitutional review.

Sociological research (Brown v. Board of Education)

In the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren, made an unanimous decision, that said "in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal... To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone."

The decision made clear that the justices were influenced in part by studies by Kenneth B. Clark showing that segregated education had a negative psychological effect upon black school children. Significant doubt was subsequently cast on these studies, especially Clark's "doll study" in which black children were asked to play with either white or black dolls.

See also



  • Dobratz, Betty A. and Shanks-Meile, Stephanie L, White Power, White Pride: The White Separatist Movement in the United States, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001, 384 pages, ISBN 0-8018-6537-9.
  • Stokes, DaShanne. (In Press) "Legalized Segregation and the Denial of Religious Freedom"
  • Rural Face of White Supremacy: Beyond Jim Crow, by Mark Schultz. University of Illinois Press, 2005, ISBN 0-252-02960-7.

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