1. Reread What Do We Do with a Difference?. What responses to differences between people occur in the history presented in this chapter? What were the consequences of those responses?
  2. Scholar George Fredrickson writes that racism has two components: difference and power. He explains:
    It originates from a mindset that regards “them” as different from “us” in ways that are permanent and unbridgeable. This sense of difference provides a motive or rationale for using our power advantage to treat the . . . Other in ways that we would regard as cruel or unjust if applied to members of our own group.1
    How is Fredrickson’s definition of racism reflected in the history of slavery in North America? How is it reflected in the histories of antisemitism and imperialism?
  3. What is antisemitism? In what sense is antisemitism a form of religious prejudice? In what sense is it a form of racism?
  4. What have you learned about the forces that shape a nation’s universe of obligation? What have you learned about the forces that shape an individual’s universe of obligation?
  5. This chapter introduced many different ideas about the evolution of the concept of race. What echoes of these ideas do you recognize in our world today?
  6. Why do humans so often divide themselves into “we” and “they”? When does it become a problem? What historical examples from this chapter help you answer this question? What examples from the world today help you answer it?

Proceed to Chapter 3: World War: Choices and Consequences


  • 1 George M. Fredrickson, Racism: A Short History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), 9.

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