Difference Between Race and Ethnicity.


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DateDifference Between Race and Ethnicity.

Race and ethnicity have been for a long time been difficult to define as the two terms have been used interchangeably by individuals to mean the same thing. But despite the two words having a closer meaning, they tend to differ in the context into which they are used or applied, and therefore the difference lies in the application. Thus, a person must be careful in the choice of the wording according to the concept and context to which they want to address. Most commonly race can be understood as the genetic differences that are exhibited by different individuals that are purported to be of different races. However, the definition of race has continued to vary depending on the field that the scholars are situated. In the field of biology, the definition of race goes another mile with the biologists defining race as the susceptibility of a person to certain diseases. And this is because some of the races are more susceptible to diseases while others are not affected at while, while some of the races are partially affected, and this brings the biological perspective of race.

After a close observation by the social scientists, they have come to differ from the biological scientists claiming that race is more of a social definition rather than being a biological fact. The main reason as to why race is considered as a social construct is because it takes various forms in different places and times. One such example of the social construct is the one-drop rule in the United States that rendered people with the African American ancestry as being referred to as black. Socially, the one drop rule was supposed to prevent the intermarriages between the races. Besides, moving out of the category, the one drop law meant that black was and still is in the present day extremely challenging as the racial status of an individual is determined by ancestry. The notion that black blood qualifies a person to be black has been challenged by the rising number of young people who are of diverse racial backgrounds.

According to the studies of genetic variations, it has been demonstrated that there is far more variability in the so-called racial groups than between the groups and this has led to most scholars believing that all human beings are genetically speaking, members of only a single race, the Homo Sapiens Sapiens. The definition of race, therefore, becomes more challenging as there has not been any single conclusion that has been arrived at that can be said to the exact definition of race. Racism on the other side, therefore, can be defined as the belief that human capabilities are determined by racial classification and that some of the races are superior to others. According to the definition of racism, some of the races including the whites seem to be more superior than the rest; for example, it is more superior to that of Blacks and Asians.

Ethnicity, on the other hand, has a different definition to that of the race despite being too close in meaning. The term ethnic is derived from a Greek word ethnos, that refers to a people or nation, but the definition is too broad and therefore the focus now leans to the definition of an ethnic group. An ethnic group refers to a group of people that share a common ancestry and cultural tradition and often living as a minority in a larger community or society. Therefore, we can say that an ethnic group is highly characterized by a strong feeling of being identified with the group. Being a member of an ethnic group is highly involuntary in the sense that an individual can’t simply decide to join a particular ethnic group. However, the entry to an ethnic group can be through either being born in the group providing a person with a direct entry to the group’s identity. Besides, a person may gain entry into the ethnic group through marriage or adoption where they are assimilated to the specific group’s values and cultural beliefs.

With the definition of ethnic group as a people who share a common cultural tradition as well as common ancestry, therefore there do exist a large number of ethnic groups that may be differentiated by their identities on the different traits. For example, for the Jewish, ethnicity primarily means religion while that of the African Americans, their ethnicity primarily is the shared history that stems from slavery. From the above examples, we can, therefore, base ethnicity as to underlie beneath the religion, folk, language, history, place of origin as well as the culture of a people. The boundaries of ethnicity in the context of race can be considered as fuzzy and shift over time. Most commonly ethnicity has been used to mark the minority groups as being different while at the same time, the majority groups as well have their ethnicity that might be based on language, common heritage, culture or even religion. The most significant issue of being a member of the majority is the ability to decide on how, when and even if one’s ethnicity forms an overt aspect of the person’s identity.

In conclusion, therefore, race and ethnicity are more similar but they exhibit some differences in the context of usage, and therefore it is essential for a person to take heed of the context to which the two words are being applied. The main difference between race and ethnicity is that race is determined by the visible facial characteristic of a person as well as their skin color while on the other side, ethnicity can be said to be the culture to which a people can be identified and this include language and religion. It is, therefore, necessary to note the context before applying the words as they can as well mean the same thing due to their confusing ability.