What is race and ethnicity

We learned about race and ethnicity this week in lecture. After thinking long and hard about race, I have come to the conclusion that it is something that will never go away in today’s society and something we might never agree on. I would categorize race as more of a social construct. We observe the world through a racial lens whether it is white, black, Asian, Mexican or other. How we see others and how we are seen influences distinct aspects of our lives and the lives of others. From the people we meet, the places we live, the schools we attend, the jobs we have, etc. It as all influenced by at least one social arrangement, race. Biologically speaking, race has very little to do with biology. There are no genes that make Asians in the USA more vulnerable to heart attacks. Biological characteristics between humans emulate hereditary factors and communal surroundings.

Ethnicity is a case of belonging to a specific social organization or cultural tradition. It is based more on location and culture rather than skin color which has more to do with race. Race and ethnicity can be deeply subjective. How one grasps racisl identity can change with maturity and time as well. Whites are found in numerous countries over the world. A white person in the United States may share specific racial tendencies with a white person from Europe, they both have distinct ethnic backgrounds, one from the United States the other from Europe. Ethnicity is about lifestyle and behavior and similar to your genetics, it can have an affect on your health. According to E. Crimmins, the role of socioeconomic status is related to ethnicity and places a factor in terms of health. People who have different social status’s lead different lives in numerous aspects, such as upbringing conditions, living situations, school settings, life opportunities, marriage and career choices. Crimmins mentions studies that documented blacks lower socioeconomic status has a relation to poor health outcomes.

Congress achieved the Civil Rights Act of 1964 over 50 years ago and still now in 2016, the same disparity of racial diversity is taking place and in some eyes has developed even worse. I hope one day we can find peace and prosperity in this country in regards to race and stereotyping.

Crimmins, Eileen M. “Critical Perspectives on Racial and Ethnic Differences in Health in Late Life.” (2004): n. Web. 8 July 2016.


3 thoughts on “What is race and ethnicity

  1. Hi Matthew! Although, it will be hard to convince individuals that “race” is not real, and that only racism is, I do believe that with enough convincing and scientific evidence, that one day we can get ride of the misconception that “race” is real. I really like how you used “racial lens” to describe how we perceive individuals that are non-white or even white. An article that I read called, There Is No Such Thing As Race, really opened my lens into understanding that racism is very real and that “race” is just a label that some use to categorize individuals. The article states, “It seems that the belief in human races, carrying along with it the prejudice and hatred of “racism,” is so embedded in our culture and has been an integral part of our worldview for so long that many of us assume that it just must be true. Racism is a part of our everyday lives. Where you live, where you go to school, your job, your profession, who you interact with, how people interact with you, your treatment in the healthcare and justice systems are all affected by your race. For the past 500 years, people have been taught how to interpret and understand racism. We have been told that there are very specific things that relate to race, such as intelligence, sexual behavior, birth rates, infant care, work ethics and abilities, personal restraint, lifespan, law-abidingness, aggression, altruism, economic and business practices, family cohesion, and even brain size. We have learned that races are structured in a hierarchical order and that some races are better than others. Even if you are not a racist, your life is affected by this ordered structure. We are born into a racist society (Sussman, 2014: 2).” Hope that this quote further opened your lens into understanding what “race” really means, as it did for me!


  2. I agree with you when you say that racism will never go away, as much as we want it to. Recently it has almost taken a steep jump upwards and has become a huge problem in the United States. We are fighting for equal rights but at the same time, we use race as something to define and separate people. It’s as though it isn’t about rights anymore, it is about who is “on top” in the societal hierarchy. While we have made great strides as a country and as a world to provide equal opportunities to everyone, white privilege is just as much a thing now as it was 60 -70 years ago in my opinion. More so, the “privilege factor” extends to much more than just race now; it branches out to ethnicities, which we learned about. This differentiation influences decisions about health care, schooling, jobs, ect. So yes I also agree that it is so tricky to convince people that racism isn’t real when it influences so many important parts of life. I love your term, the racial lens, because that is so accurate; society relies on the racial lens to create order, to see what we want to see, when really we are all just human. We seemed to have lost the “human” aspect of “humanity.”

  3. Hi Matthew, I completely agree with the statement that race and all the problems that come with it, will most likely never go away. It is so sad, but it is so difficult to change the minds of all these people who choose to see the world by color, rather than seeing the world as a group of people all simply trying to live the lives they were given. I think it is interesting that you bring up that certain people aren’t born with a specifically higher risk to a specific issue simply because of their religion, ethnic background, or color. Many of the issues are solely due to the impacts of society over time, and as time goes on, they tend to get worse and worse and more stereotypical.

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