and ethnicity are modern concepts. They have their origins in the
global expansion of European societies, which gathered pace from
the late fifteenth century onwards. The process of rapid social
change that followed culminated in the transformation of European
societies from primarily rural-agricultural to urban-industrial
formations. This was also a period in which ways of thinking about,
and explaining, natural and social phenomenon also began to change
as science, in recognisably modern form, gradually developed.
growing exploration of other parts of the world brought Europeans
increasingly into contact with other human societies, ranging from
small isolated groups of hunter-gatherers to large, complex states
and empires. What appears to have struck explorers most forcefully,
particularly those from England, were differences of physical appearance
between themselves and others. The most striking of these seems to
have been skin colour and it is notable that an early distinction
emerged between those who had what was described as a 'black' in
contrast to a 'white' skin.
characterisation was of considerable importance because of the way
in which the colours black and white were emotionally loaded with
concepts in the English language. Not only was the contrast one which
denoted polar opposites but while 'white' represented good, purity,
and virginity, 'black' was the colour of death, evil, and debasement.
As a result, it is frequently argued that great care needs to be
taken in the use of language in a multi-ethnic society if the reproduction
of the negative connotations of blackness is to be avoided.
of the nursery rhyme 'ba ba black sheep', the use of
the terms 'black board', 'black market’ ,’black
you agree that language can be discriminatory? Or do
you think it is 'political correctness gone mad'?Spend
a few minutes jotting down your ideas.