How we define who is like “us” and who is not is an important issue. Questions of sameness and difference are a big part of an individual’s identity formation, but they take on even greater significance when applied to groups and nations.
Some argue that categorizing people into groups is natural and part of the way humans try to make sense of their world. For example, should skin color, culture, or national origin be markers of identity? What about differences in gender, religion, or sexual orientation? How should people decide which differences to emphasize and what to do with those differences?
Facing History teaches how categorizing people as “other” has been used in the past as the basis for segregation, apartheid, and genocide. Studying these histories raises essential questions about citizenship, integration, and the consequences of how individuals, groups, and nations define their collective identities. This site offers readings that will help educators to address current issues of diversity and difference.
- genocide : A term coined by Raphael Lemkin to describe mass crimes directed against national, religious, or ethnic groups. To qualify as genocide, Lemkin argued, these crimes must be “directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group.”