Posted: June 13th, 2021
What is the difference between race and ethnicity? ( my race is yellow)
What is YOUR race? What is YOUR ethnicity? What does your race and/or ethnicity mean to you, if anything?
How can we simultaneously say that race “isnt’ real” and race is “important” (how/why is it important)? HINT: the sociological perspective/definition of race that challenges the notion of biology.
How does race continue to be “important” in today’s cultural, political and economic landscape?
What is the difference between prejudice and discrimination?
Race refers to a combination of physical and behavioral attributes that are used to group humans into distinct categories in society. The race is often associated with biology and linked with physical characteristics like hair texture and skin color. The race is believed to reflect a biological foundation, generate distinct racial groups, and the biological foundation is inherent among generations. Members of race are believed to share a set of biological characteristics which are not visible in members of other races. This biological foundation of race manifests itself fundamentally through physical phenotypes. Ethnicity, on the other hand, refers to a categorization of people who identify with each other based on shared attributes which distinguish them from other groups.
My race is Asian and my ethnicity is Han Chinese. My race and ethnicity mean so much to me since they play a huge role in my growth of a strong and stable sense of self. My race and ethnicity help in shaping how I see myself and help me understand how others see me. My ethnicity instills in me the idea of belonging to a certain cultural group and how I share various elements such as language, place of origin, or religion. My race and ethnicity help me to understand how I relate to certain social, historical, and geographic contexts. The identity of my race and ethnicity helps me in understanding that of others and appreciating the differences in our races and ethnicities. My race and ethnicity also help in self-exploration.
There are various reasons in which the argument that ‘race is not real’ can be justified. For example, one cannot tell the correct race of another person by simply looking at them. Racial lines have been blurred to invisibility in an entire community in extreme cases and it is common to find people who might look one way but identify in another hence making it difficult to place them in a racial category. The race continues to be important but in a negative way in the economic landscape by being a leading source of economic inequality followed by gender. People of certain races such as Black and Latina have the highest number of less-desirable jobs, higher poverty rates, lower earnings, among others. The race is being used as a tool for discrimination in the economic sphere and is the main cause of the economic disparity among various groups of people. The race is also important in the political landscape as it plays a huge role in political attitudes. Various racial groups depict varying levels of support for political candidates, leaders, or subjects, depending on their racial background.
Prejudice describes the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs that a person holds about a group. Prejudice is a prejudgment that originates outside actual experience and is not based on experience. Discrimination, on the other hand, refers to the actions that are directed against a certain group of people based on various aspects such as religion, age, race, and other indicators. Prejudice refers to attitudes and opinions while discrimination focuses on the actual behaviors against a group.
Race and ethnicity can be confusing at times because many people do not understand the difference between the two. Race is more one’s physical characteristics that categorize them into one of roughly five or six races. For example, being Hispanic, White, or Asain are types of races. However, these categories are very broad and encompass many different cultures and ways of life. When differentiating oneself through culture, tradition, language, or religion, you refer to your ethnicity. Ethnicity is a little more complex than race. In some ways, it is taught, passed down through generations and not genetically inherited. Ethnicity differentiates people within one race. Ethnicity is also not to be confused with nationality. Someone who is Italian may live in the United States, making their ethnicity Italian but nationality American, but not both American or both Italian.
My race is white, but my ethnicity is Serbian and Montenegrin. To me, my ethnicity means a lot, determining my religion, cultural upbringing, mannerisms, and global outlook. Because I am Serbian/Montenegrin, I was raised to be Eastern Orthodox, albeit Serbian Orthodox because it is more common in the United States. Further, since my mom immigrated at my age to the U.S., she brought with her a lot of her culture and way of life. Little things like the way she pronounces some words, some of the food we make, and some household rules (like taking off your shoes when entering someone’s house) are all traits she imparted on me from a young age. Although I do not speak Serbian or Montenegrin, I understand some words and I have an understanding of our history and traditional culture. My ethnicity shapes me a lot and allows me to feel connected with a broader network of people and family that live overseas.
Race is a complex topic, especially in a society as diverse and historically prejudiced as the United States. In a sense, race is very socially constructed. The reality is that race is a byproduct of evolution, allowing people to live in different environments. Thus, race is biologically mundane and rather unimportant. However, due to sociological ideals and beliefs, people began to feel “different” than others, in ways that led to issues like slavery, warfare, and overall discrimination. Race is important because as a global society, we are very aware of it and continue to differentiate ourselves based upon it. Racial history is important and must be acknowledged, yet even today people lay bias upon racial differences. Police brutality, the wage breakdown, and school admissions are all byproducts of a racially divided society. Race is indeed still important today yet in a way that is more dividing and harmful than unifying.
When differentiating prejudice and discrimination, it is important to understand that discrimination is putting prejudice into action. Prejudices are ideas and thoughts someone may harbor in their mind against a specific race or ethnicity, or microaggressions they may display in public. Discrimination, however, is the implication of laws or divisions in society that puts some people at a disadvantage to others. A very relevant example of this are the Jim Crow laws of the South and the discrimination they supported amongst Americans on the basis of skin color. Therefore, both are terrible concepts and discrimination is essentially the cumulation of intense prejudice that is enacted upon society.
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