Ethnicity vs. Race

Ethnicity
Race

The traditional definition of race and ethnicity is related to biological and sociological factors respectively. Race refers to a person's physical characteristics, such as bone structure and skin, hair, or eye color. Ethnicity, however, refers to cultural factors, including nationality, regional culture, ancestry, and language. An example of race is brown, white, or black skin (all from various parts of the world), while an example of ethnicity is German or Spanish ancestry (regardless of race).

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Ethnicity

Race

Definition An ethnic group or ethnicity is a population group whose members identify with each other on the basis of common nationality or shared cultural traditions. The term race refers to the concept of dividing people into populations or groups on the basis of various sets of physical characteristics (which usually result from genetic ancestry).
Significance Ethnicity connotes shared cultural traits and a shared group history. Some ethnic groups also share linguistic or religious traits, while others share a common group history but not a common language or religion. Race presumes shared biological or genetic traits, whether actual or asserted. In the early 19th century, racial differences were ascribed significance in areas of intelligence, health, and personality. There is no evidence validating these ideas.
Genealogy Ethnicity is defined in terms of shared genealogy, whether actual or presumed. Typically, if people believe they descend from a particular group, and they want to be associated with that group, then they are in fact members of that group. Racial categories result from a shared genealogy due to geographical isolation. In the modern world this isolation has been broken down and racial groups have mixed.
Distinguishing Factors Ethnic groups distinguish themselves differently from one time period to another. They typically seek to define themselves but also are defined by the stereotypes of dominant groups. Races are assumed to be distinguished by skin color, facial type, etc. However, the scientific basis of racial distinctions is very weak. Scientific studies show that racial genetic differences are weak except in skin color.
Nationalism In 19th century, there was development of the political ideology of ethnic nationalism -- creating nations based on a presumed shared ethnic origins (e.g. Germany, Italy, Sweden...) In 19th century, the concept of nationalism was often used to justify the domination of one race over another within a specific nation.
Legal System In the last decades of the 20th century, in the U.S. and in most nations, the legal system as well as the official ideology prohibited ethnic-based discrimination. In the last decades of the 20th century, the legal system as well as the official ideology emphasized racial equality.
Conflicts Often brutal conflicts between ethnic groups have existed throughout history and across the world. But most ethnic groups in fact get along peacefully within one another in most nations most of the time. Racial prejudice remains a continuing problem throughout the world. However, there are fewer race-based conflicts in the 21st century than in the past.
Examples of conflict Conflict between Tamil and Sinhalese populations in Sri Lanka. Conflict between white and African-American people in the U.S., especially during the civil rights movement.

Contents: Ethnicity vs Race

Definitions of Ethnicity and Race

What is ethnicity?

Ethnicity is state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.[1] This is, by definition, a fluid concept; ethnic groups can be broadly or narrowly construed. For example, they can be as broad as "Native American" or as narrow as "Cherokee". Another example is the Indian subcontinent — Indians may be considered one ethnic group but there are actually dozens of cultural traditions and subgroups like Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, and Tamil that are also bona fide ethnic groups. Yet another example is people in Great Britain — they may be considered British, or more precisely English, Scottish or Welsh.

What is race?

A race is a group of people with a common physical feature or features. While there are hundreds — if not thousands — of ethnicities, the number of races is far fewer.

Difference Between Race and Ethnicity

Take the Caucasian (a.k.a., Caucasoid) race. The physical characteristics of Caucasians were described by M. A. MacConaill, an Irish anatomy professor, as including "light skin and eyes, narrow noses, and thin lips. Their hair is usually straight or wavy." Caucasians are said to have the lowest degree of projection in their alveolar bones that contain the teeth, a notable size prominence of the cranium and forehead region, and a projection of the midfacial region. A person whose appearance matches these characteristics is said to be a Caucasian.

Caucasians are found in many countries around the world. So while a Caucasian person in the United States may share certain racial characteristics with a Caucasian person from France, the two people have different ethnic backgrounds — one American, the other French. They will likely speak different languages most of the time, have different traditions, and may even have different beliefs that have been heavily influenced by their local cultures.

It is worth noting that "race" and "ethnicity" can be highly subjective, with lines between the two concepts frequently blurred. The video below discusses how terms for racial and ethnic identities have changed over the years and how a racial or ethnic term may not accurately describe a person's identity, as the person may have multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Multiracial vs. Multicultural

In most cases, race is unitary — i.e., a person belongs to one race — but may claim ethnic membership in multiple groups. For example, Barack Obama is racially black in spite of his mother being caucasian. On the other hand, a person can self-identify ethnically as Scottish and German if she has indeed lived in both ethic groups.

Self-identification and Choice

Another difference between race and ethnicity is related to the ability to self-identify. A person does not choose her race; it is assigned by society based upon her physical features. However, ethnicity is self-identified. An individual can learn a language, social norms and customs, and assimilate into a culture to belong to an ethnic group.

Race relations

"Race relations" is one of the dominant themes in American politics from time to time, and refers to relationships between the major race groups — white, black, native American, Hispanic/Latino, "Asian," and others of mixed races.

America has also had a sometimes troubled history with ethnic strife — e.g., during the waves of Irish and Italian immigration to the U.S. These immigrants were Caucasian but had a different ethnicity compared to the Anglo Saxons who preceded them; they often faced ethnic discrimination.

"Asians"

The word "Asian" used in a racial context in the United States refers to people of Southeast Asian origin, including a vast variety of ethnic backgrounds, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

This colloquial usage is incorrect because "Asian" is not technically a race, as it means someone from Asia, including people from India, Saudi Arabia, Israel and parts of Russia.

References

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Comments: Ethnicity vs Race

Anonymous comments (5)

May 13, 2012, 5:50am

I can't believe this moron put Latino as a race when Latino denotes a culture originating from southern Europe! What this moron should have put is Native American as one of the 4 racial groups!

— 174.✗.✗.177
1

February 1, 2010, 7:18pm

There is only one human race. We learned that in kindergarten.

— 71.✗.✗.202
1

December 11, 2013, 12:19am

If Latin America is Latin, Why do we call the people who come here from Latin America Latinos and not Latin Americans. Do we call our French population Frencho Americans or Italians, Italiano Americans, what about Africano Americans or Irisho Americans. Nah we cannot call them Latin or Hispanic Americans that would make them sound American and we want them sounding very foreign. After all, we have to misname the people who come from parts of North, Central and South America because most are of either Latin European descent (who came to the Americas before the English) or of Native American descent. We need to keep up the facade that the Anglos were here first. We need to de-legitimize them and confuse the public about who they are. And if they come to this smallest part of the Americas, we'll teach their children that they are new to history in the Americas and that they sort of appeared out of thin air. Gosh the wicked witch of the west.

— 24.✗.✗.185
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May 23, 2013, 2:01am

Theres only one race the human race. You are a racist if you see skin color anyways

— 98.✗.✗.17
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February 19, 2010, 1:36am

I would agree,but I have serious doubt how the Environment in the far in the far east make Asians look the way they do.
I doubt that can be explained with substance.

— 72.✗.✗.135
0

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