Defining Race and Ethnicity Essay

Defining Race and Ethnicity India S. Colon ETH/125 Cultural Diversity July 14, 2010 David N. DiBari MCJ Abstract Racial and ethnic groups have similar meanings according to the readings however there are very distinct characteristics to them as well. According to Schaefer (2006) “The term racial group is reserved for minorities and the corresponding majorities that are socially set apart because of obvious physical differences” (p. 7). Simply put, racial groups focus on physical and more obvious characteristics of a person. For example, a persons skin color, nose, bone structure, all serve as physical characteristics.

According to Schaefer (2006) “Ethnic groups are groups set apart because of their national origin or distinctive cultural patterns” (p. 7). Schaefer (2006) Key characteristics are identified from the dominant group from it’s cultural differences, such as language, attitudes toward marriage and parenting, food habits, and even dress and appearance. The definition of race doesn’t always make complete sense to me because it seems race is like saying asking, “What type of species are you? ” I feel as though we are all human and of the same race. It’s our ethnicity that defines us.

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In the United States these concepts appear to be of great importance. To define oneself in such a large nation of ethnicities almost seems like needed task. US societies seem to adopt the thought that one needs to define their race and ethnicity. I often think it shouldn’t matter how people identify me, but it’s not so simple to walk with out being put into a category. Either way, we are just one big melting pot. According to Schaefer (2006) “Melting pot is a diverse racial or ethnic groups form a new creation, a new cultural entity” (p. 20).

In the US society to identify oneself is to succeed or determine your level of success at different levels. Society has identified specifics groups in dominant verses the subordinate, wealth class such as low verses medium class families. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to explain why U. S. society finds race and ethnicity important, but I simply think it’s because those who live in the US come from so many different places through the globe that some race or ethnic identity is naturally imbedded into ones mind. References Schaefer, R. T. (2006). Understanding Race and Ethnicity. Race and Ethnicity, (Tenth Edition), 31.


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