“Racism” Defined

If you have arrived at this page from a citation on this website, you have been directed to the right place. When I published ...The Man Who Invented “Racism” back in 2001, I cited Volume XIII of the 1989 edition of The Oxford English Dictionary, pages 74 & 75. Scans of the relevant entries from pages 74-6 can be found directly below. The entry for racist on page 75 has been underlined, not by the printer, not by me, but presumably by another user of Lewisham Central Reference Library wherein the volume was consulted.

Although I wrote quite a bit on racial issues over the following 15 years, it was not until around July or August 2017 that I became aware of the further research on the origins of the words racialism, racism, and racist. Awhile ago I did some keyword searches in historical newspaper databases which did actually throw up the word racism going back a couple of hundred years. This though was in connection with horse racing, ie misidentified words.

The four screengrabs after the three scans are from the on-line version of the OED, as can be see from the masthead. The first use of racialism has now been dated to 1902, but like the 1907 entry in the 1989 Edition, this appears to have been an isolated mention. The 1903 entry for racism has a bit more vigour. Surprisingly, both the 1907 reference to racialism and Magnus Hirschfeld himself have been excluded from the June 2008 update, something that smacks less of revisionism than a form of academic censorship, sinister or otherwise.


Page 74

Page 75

Page 76


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