Ethnicity explained

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Race and ethnicity aren’t genetic, but they shape the human experience.

Human ancestry defines race and ethnicity. Large numbers of people with the same racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, cultural, or linguistic origin or background” are ethnicities.

Race is usually associated with biology and physical traits like skin color and hair texture. Ethnicity is cultural expression and identification. Both are social constructs that categorize and characterize seemingly distinct populations.

Race and genes

Group of different ethnicity women. Multicultural diversity and friendship. Female faces with different skin type and color.

Human genomes do not show race or ethnicity. Humans have genetic variations, some of which are linked to global ancestry. Deviations cannot be categorized biologically. Genetic tests cannot confirm race or ethnicity but can increase racial beliefs.

Race is social, not genetic. Racism causes social exclusion, discrimination, and violence against certain groups. Racial prejudice, which privileges white people over people of color, creates social and physical disparities.

Classifying race

Diverse Diversity Ethnic Ethnicity Togetherness Unity Concept

The social and biological sciences distinguish race and ethnicity, despite popular belief. Ethnicity is more accessible to change than race, but different ethnicities have been grouped into races at other times.

“The social experience of being consistently viewed as distinct informs a racial identity, not a shared culture,” writes legal scholar Tanya K. Hernandez. Ethnic groups may share a language, country, religion, or cultural expression.

Race politics

U.S. Capitol Building, Washington D.C., United States

People are put into one of five groups by the US government: white, black or African American, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, or “other.” It takes into account both Hispanic and non-Hispanic cultures. Demographics influence civil rights and public policy.

Individuals vary more than ethnic groups because humans share over 99 percent of their genetic material. However, housing and health reflect racial and ethnic constructs. Racial and ethnic prejudices affect wealth, power, and opportunity and perpetuate social stratification.

White supremacists promote racial prejudice through pride. However, group pride activities can help marginalized groups cope with racial discrimination and social prejudice. Race and ethnicity, two of the most divisive concepts in history, shape our social, personal, and cultural lives.

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