Biological races do not exist and never have. This view is
shared by all scientists who study variation in human populations.
Yet racial prejudice and intolerance based on the myth of race
remain deeply ingrained in Western society. In his powerful
examination of a persistent, false, and poisonous idea, Robert
Sussman explores how race emerged as a social construct from early
biblical justifications to the pseudoscientific studies of
The Myth of Race" traces the origins of modern racist ideology
to the Spanish Inquisition, revealing how sixteenth-century
theories of racial degeneration became a crucial justification for
Western imperialism and slavery. In the nineteenth century, these
theories fused with Darwinism to produce the highly influential and
pernicious eugenics movement. Believing that traits from cranial
shape to raw intelligence were immutable, eugenicists developed
hierarchies that classified certain races, especially fair-skinned
Aryans, as superior to others. These ideologues proposed programs
of intelligence testing, selective breeding, and human
sterilization policies that fed straight into Nazi genocide.
Sussman examines how opponents of eugenics, guided by the
German-American anthropologist Franz Boas s new, scientifically
supported concept of culture, exposed fallacies in racist
Although eugenics is now widely discredited, some groups and
individuals today claim a new scientific basis for old racist
assumptions. Pondering the continuing influence of racist research
and thought, despite all evidence to the contrary, Sussman explains
why when it comes to race too many people still mistake bigotry for
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