In a long article, Leonard Pitts, Jr., explored the history of race as a social concept.
Contrary to what you and I were taught, the idea of different races based on color is relatively new, about 300 to 400 years old.
Slavery had existed for centuries, but historically was a result of conquest or indebtedness (sort of the ultimate late payment penalty). Quite coincidentally, no doubt, the birth of the concept of an immutable characteristic called “race,” which confers superiority on some and inferiority on others in perpetuity, coincides with the growth of chattel slavery–the belief that some persons are destined by heredity to be owned and exploited, like cattle, forever.
Says (Temple University Professor Matt–ed.) Wray, “It has enabled in the United States for us to justify and legitimate the conquest of Indian land and the near genocide of Native American tribes. It enabled us for such a long time to justify slavery and when we got done with that justification, when people called B.S. on that, we said, ‘Well, this is how we can explain Jim Crow.’ When the Civil Rights Movement happens in the 1950s and ’60s, when African Americans rise up and say, ‘Enough Jim Crow,’ then we use it to justify mass incarceration of black Americans. We find the idea of race and inherent racial differences and the idea that some people are frankly, just better than others, to be indispensible.”