The modern concept of race was developed in the late 19th century, especially drawing on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution but incorporating earlier systems of classifications. Sociologists were among the scientists who developed the theories, but race is considered a social category rather than an exclusively sociological one The northern Europeans who developed ideas about innate or biological difference created a hierarchy of human groups, with people like themselves at the top. These false notions of inherent biological superiority were used to rationalize the imperialism of white or Caucasian people’s assertion of control over those in other categories. The biological differences among human beings who have been classified as belonging to different races are very slight;
The roots of modern racism contributed heavily to the subjugation of “non-white” people, including the enslavement of dark-skinned African peoples. More recently, race was used in Nazi Germany to justify the subjugation of anyone the Nazis did not consider “Aryan.” Although theories of biologically based racial superiority have been disproved, it is important to remember that they were applied in those ways. People within racial groups often draw on common experiences and heritage to form close communities. To deny them racial identity would be to deny the importance of that shared heritage.
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