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Anti-racism, like other general social attitudes, ideas and movements, has many variations and faces. At its simplest and least ideological, it consists simply in opposition to racism based on a sense that all races are basically the same, and we should all accept each other's differences. In more developed and ideological forms it tends to involve the belief that racism is both pernicious and socially pervasive, so that strong measures are called for to control and even eradicate it.

The more ideological forms of anti-racism are associated with:

Although many now consider it fundamental to social justice, anti-racism is a recent development. The 1968 convention was the first the United States Democratic Party held without whites-only delegations. One of the first figures in the Roman Catholic Church to identify racial segregation as a sin, Fr. George Dunne, S.J, died only in 1998. Even the word "racism" did not appear in many dictionaries before the Second World War.

The theoretical basis for an anti-racism movement was laid during the 1920s and 1930s by anthropologists such as Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and Ashley Montagu. Major events in the rapid practical development of the movement in the years following the Second World War include:

In recent years the theoretical foundations of anti-racist ideology have been vigorously attacked by scholars such as Charles Murray, Michael Levin, and J. Phillipe Rushton and vigorously defended by other scholars such as Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin.

Proponents of the stronger forms of anti-racism say that rooting out discriminatory attitudes and practices is a requirement of simple justice. Critics say that ethnicity amd some degree of ethnocentrism is legitimate and beneficial, that there are non-discriminatory explanations to most racial differences in social and economic position, and that the presumption that discrimination is pervasive, hidden and immensely destructive leads to intolerable bureaucratic interference in the daily lives of individuals, organizations, and communities.

See also