What conditions are believable for a racial society majority to accept a racial minority, and those to reject them?

I have two races. One is a racially pure majority and the other is a mixed breed minority. In one time frame, the majority accepts and shelters the minority, and then in a later time frame the majority enslaves the minority. I am at a loss on what conditions would allow these turn of events to happen of which are believable. Any suggestions? In the end of the story, the racial majority are punished for their crimes.

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    $\begingroup$ Look at real European history. The Romans didn't really have any concept of racial prejudice (though they certainly had other prejudices); cultures that developed from the aftermath of the fall of the western Roman Empire wound up with them. And it's not just about slavery: the Islamic world was happy to enslave any race. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Feb 23 '15 at 4:51

This is a question of social interaction.

Since we are talking about aliens, they would need to have a certain open-mindedness to begin with. However, open-mindedness can be influenced by individual and collective action.

My hypothesis would be that either:

  1. The minority or its members behaved badly (or were seen to have behaved badly) in some way that led the majority group to no longer trust the minority or its judgement, leading to enslavement for "protection of the majority" or "Protection of the minority from itself".

  2. The majority underwent an shift in its established beliefs, probably due to the rise of a new group with an appealing meme to spread, that incidentally or otherwise proposed slavery as a means to force the minority (who would be depicted as less-than-useful by natural inclination) to become useful members of society rather than freeloaders, by force if necessary.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. My minority race is blind, leaving them unable to participate in societal roles that require visual sight. Is that related to your second statement? $\endgroup$ – linuxfreebird Feb 23 '15 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't know about the minority being blind, but that would be a very good reason for a new power-group to label them as freeloaders to be forced to work for the common good, which is the start of the slippery slope to slavery. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Feb 23 '15 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I wrote the question as general as possible for everyone else, I forgot to mention that. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – linuxfreebird Feb 23 '15 at 1:48

One source of information on this would be to study the interaction between the Hebrews and the Egyptians, as recorded in the Bible.

A high-ranking Hebrew, Joseph, gained the favor of the Pharaoh. During a famine, that Joseph had helped prepare the Egyptians for, he invited his family (father, brothers and their families) to live in Egypt.

Several generations later, the number of Hebrews had grown quite large, and Joseph and the Pharaoh that favored him were long dead. The Hebrews were then enslaved.

A fast growing minority can trigger displeasure in the majority.

  • $\begingroup$ And the Hebrews before their well-attested migration to Palestine were totally racially different from the Egyptians. This is well known from the large number of Hebrew tombs discovered in Egypt. That both spoke a Semitic language is a pure coincidence with no significance. (This being the Internet: the migration of Hebrews and their conquest of Palestine left no traces, or at least nobody has found them yet; there are no known traces of Hebrews in Egypt, let alone of a "large number"; and we have no idea whatsoever of the physical aspect of Hebrews before their arrival in Palestine.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 1 '17 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP For the purposes of this question, that is irrelevant. This is merely an example of how one smaller population could be reduced from a favored and protected status to a persecuted and enslaved state. $\endgroup$ – Michael Richardson Mar 1 '17 at 22:06

In fiction religion is a common (perhaps too common) explanation of this kind of change. In the past the majority race (or both races) could have been followers of a religion stating that both races are equal. Later a new religion gained popularity among the majority race and it stated that the minority race is inferior (due to their blindness or any other reason). Now the new religion is the major (or only) religion of the majority race or both races.


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