Racism Taught in Biology Textbooks for Decades


Jerry Bergman

Textbooks are a major means of imparting not just facts, but also beliefs. One concept often included in books supporting Darwinism published before 1960 was the belief that there exist “Caucasian” and “Negroid” races, now commonly called the “white” and “black” races. The view that whites were “superior,” and blacks “inferior” and more “apelike” was commonly taught in science texts and even scholarly academic books published in the Western world from the middle 1800s to around 1960, and a few after this date. A few typical examples were examined to illustrate how racism was once taught. This paper compares textbooks used in America and Nazi Germany, documenting the fact that their coverage of evolution and eugenic topics was similar. Although all of the examples examined for this paper were published in the USA and Germany, most of these textbooks were translated into Spanish, French, and other languages and used throughout the world.