White people is a racial classificationspecifier, used for people of Caucasianancestry, with the exact implications dependent on context. The usage of "white people" or a "white race" as a large group of (mainly European) populations contrasting with "black", American Indian (sometimes called red), "colored" or non-white originated in the 17th century.

The concept of a white race did not achieve universal acceptance in Europe; numerous European peoples and nations over the last few hundred years, such as Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany, regarded some European peoples as racially distinct. Moreover, there is no accepted standard for determining a geographic barrier between white and non-white people. Contemporary anthropologists and scientists regard the concept as socially constructed.[original research?]

The concept of whiteness has particular resonance in racially diverse countries with large majority populations of mixed European ancestry: for example, in the United States(White American), the United Kingdom (White British), Brazil (White Brazilian), and South Africa (White South African).[1] Various social constructions of whiteness have been significant to national identity, public policy, religion, population statistics, racial segregation, affirmative action, white privilege, eugenics, racial marginalization and racial quotas.

The term "white race" or "white people" entered the major European languages in the later 17th century, in the context of racialized slavery and unequal status in European colonies. Description of populations as "white" in reference to their skin colorpredates this notion and is occasionally found in Greco-Roman ethnography and other ancient sources; but these societies did not have any notion of a white, pan-European race. Scholarship on race generally distinguishes the modern concept from pre-modern descriptions of collective difference.[2]