Distinguishing Between Race and Ethnicity

Essay by cuetCollege, UndergraduateB, July 2004

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Distinguishing Between Race and Ethnicity

Race and ethnicity are two words that have very different meanings, yet are often confused. Race is a group of people who share a similar trait. This trait cannot be changed because it is a biological characteristic, which one inherits. This could be skin color, facial features, or any other physical trait. These groups of people are generally classified by other people. Racial classification is divided into three parts;Caucasian, Negroid, and Mongoloid. It is said that our "human ancestors" are responsible for much of our racial diversity, for example people with darker skin originated from hotter climates, the dark skin was the body's form of natural protection from the sun. When it comes down to it though "such differences are just skin deep because every human being the world over is a member of a single biological species"(Macionis &Gerber, p.346).Ethnicity is by definition a shared cultural heritage, this means that a group of people that share a religion, or language "confer a distinctive social identity" (p.347).

Ethnicity has two types of criteria involved; objective, which is traits like religion, language, cultural practices and ancestry. Subjective involves people who see themselves or are seen by others as belonging to a different group (p.347). One of the most interesting facts about ethnicity, is that it, unlike race, can be changed if one chooses to. Most people who are non-white are considered minorities, despite their

income and I believe that this is sadly true. Just because a visible minority makes an above average income doesn't mean that they will be treated by other people as being different. Minorities are "a category of people, distinguished by physical or cultural traits, that is socially disadvantaged" (p.347). The sad truth is they would still be socially disadvantaged even if they...