Race and Ethnicity Essay
Traditionally, the definitions of race and ethnicity have their origins from sociological and biological factors. The physical appearance of a person such as eye colour, skin colour, jaw/bone structure as well as hair colour describe race while ethnicity is associated to the cultural factors such as culture, beliefs, ancestry, and nationality (Rose 10). Often, a critical role is played by race and ethnicity by determining the framework of an individual as well as the collective identity of people. Indeed, there are many cases in which racial and ethnic identity are depicted in conscious ways by minority groups. The U.S race and ethnic demographics indicate that the ethnic/racial composition has been changing since 1980. For instance, the white population has declined to 66% from 80%, Hispanic population increased to 155 from 6%, black population remaining at 12%, and Asian/Pacific Islander increased to 4% from less than 2% of the total population (Aud 10). There are two conflicting cultural and social influence that trigger deep immersion of cultural and ethnic identities. It is often an assumption of many people that the physical traits by human beings bring about fundamental differences genetically. Furthermore, an assumption exists in that it is possible to take an individual human being and classify them into various categories identified distinctly from others. Race and ethnicity have had such powerful outcomes such that they have created a wrong implication that humans are very different and that some races and ethnic groups are better than others.
Whether humans are completely different based on the racial and ethnic backgrounds has been a topic of extensive debate. Indeed, scientific investigations have tried to utilize genetic information and remains of fossils to investigate the evolution of humans (Goetze & James 150). Such scientific investigations have indicated that Africa is the origin of humans who later migrated to other parts of the globe. The Homo sapiens (modern man) refer to the people existing on earth in the present age (Smedley 690). There is an exchange of genes by all humans during the giving forth of off-springs irrespective of the race. In reality, the differences in the physical traits have been explained as resulting from physiological and anatomical adaptations that have helped in the survival of humans in certain environments. Additionally, genetic elasticity has been described as the tendency of humans to portray diverse physical traits readily exchangeable during mating and child production.
Scientific research has proved that particular traits are not limited to only one race. Therefore, the supposed superiority of some races is a mere selfish creation of such races with an aim of exploiting other races. Consequently, it is possible for individuals from all races to mate and produce off-spring together. This fact is enhanced by the reality that grey eyes often associated with light skinned complexion are present to people with a dark complexion. Similarly, black and brown eyes exist in both light and dark skinned complexion (Rose 5). Indeed, there are several illustrations of similarity in physical traits among different races that tend to demonstrate that race is a mere construction of humans with an aim of bringing separation among the people of the world. For example, the picture in fig 1:1 shows the extent of racism among different races whereby some races have been exhorted and regarded special than others. In reality, all races are equal.
Psychological mechanisms centred on kinship bonding have provided important insights into the understanding of ethnicity. Based on evolutionary psychology, diverse array of traits of mental mechanisms have been acquired by humans through natural selection (Smedley 695). The mental mechanisms are basically meant to enable humans survive in the given natural environments. Through evolutionary adaptation, humans have acquired diverse traits that have distinguished them from other humans in different environments. Consequently, humans get persistently exposed to certain environmental conditions that eventually result to certain psychological mechanisms often in the form of ethnicity. The operation of psychological mechanisms is usually in the form of algorithms (Goetze & James 145). Additionally, the evolved psychological mechanisms in humans are regarded important in the resolution of various challenges associated with human existence. Such challenges include choice of mates, alliance of information, building reputation as well as hunting and many more challenging tasks in human existence.
Ethnic phenomena are often associated with diverse traits and problems such as malevolent and benign cooperation as well as group bonding and challenges of group conflict and threat. Psychologists are highly likely to perceive ethnicity and race as being human constructions. Normally, race and ethnicity have been used interchangeably. However, there are specific similarities and differences between race and ethnicity. Researchers have associated race with the shaping psychological experience. It is no wonder then that racial identity has been used in determining performance, motivation, beliefs and attitudes. On the contrast, ethnicity has been found to play a crucial role in shaping the experiences of an individual (Chavez & Guido-DiBrito 5). Ethnicity is often referred to as culture.
From the foregoing, various perspectives and attitudes have been brought about in an attempt to explain race and ethnicity. One compelling distinction between race and ethnicity based on scholarly view identifies race as an implication of power and historical indexes or the progressive imposition of authority by one group to another. The prevailing racial differences are associated with the sustenance of assumed differences with other groups. Contrastingly, ethnicity tries to bring to the fore the practices, values and meanings of people. Consequently, people within similar groups tend to claim certain differences based on their ethnic inclination. Similarly, they agree with various generalizations associated with the group’s behaviour. Race and ethnicity in humans are influential aspects of human existence as they reflect the unique evolution capacity. Therefore, ethnicity and race are an outcome of basic psychological processes that create and maintain social distinctions.
Aud, Susan. Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups. National Centre for Education Statistics, 2010.
Chavez, Fedeline A. & Guido-DiBrito, Florence. Racial and Ethnic Identity and Development. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 84(1999); 1-10.
Goetze, David B. & James, Patrick. Evolutionary Psychology and the Explanation of Ethnic Phenomena. Evolutionary Psychology, 2(2004); 142-159.
Lieberson, Stanley. A Societal Theory of Race and Ethnic Relations. American Sociological Review, 26.6(1961); 902-910.
Rose, Hazel. Pride, Prejudice, and Ambivalence: Toward a Unified Theory of Race and Ethnicity. Stanford University. Boston, Massachusetts. 2008.
Smedley, Audrey. “Race” and the Construction of Human Identity. American Anthropologists, New Series. 100.3 (1998); 690-702.
Fig 1.1: Picture showing racial mistreatment and prejudice
Race and Ethnicity Essay