Race and Ethnicity

Read this chapter for a review of race and ethnicity. As you read through each section, consider the following points:

  • Can you identify areas in your life where race and ethnicity have an effect?
  • Take note of the differences between race and ethnicity. Explore the idea behind race being a social construction, rather than a biological identifier. Take note of the definitions of majority and minority groups.
  • Take note of the differences between stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and racism. Challenge yourself to think about some common stereotypes you might be familiar with.
  • Read about how the major theoretical perspectives view race and ethnicity. On a separate piece of paper, make a list of examples of culture of prejudice. For example, when you see an actor of (presumably) Middle Eastern descent in a film, how often are they either the hero or the villain? When you're watching television and commercials come on, what are some common themes you notice in the racial categories of the actors? How about images in high fashion magazines? Often times, when women of color appear in these ads, they are eroticized in some way, creating a visual of someone who is less than human.
  • Take note of the definitions of genocide, expulsion, segregation, pluralism, and assimilation. Also, pay attention to amalgamation and how it is somewhat similar to the classic melting pot theory.
  • Focus on the different experiences of various ethnic groups in the United States. Due to the current racial stratification in the U.S., how might race or ethnicity affect access to valuable resources like education or health care?

Key Terms

the process by which a minority group and a majority group combine to form a new group

the process by which a minority individual or group takes on the characteristics of the dominant culture

the belief that one type of skin tone is superior or inferior to another within a racial group

culture of prejudice
the theory that prejudice is embedded in our culture

prejudiced action against a group of people

dominant group
a group of people who have more power in a society than any of the subordinate groups

shared culture, which may include heritage, language, religion, and more

the act of a dominant group forcing a subordinate group to leave a certain area or even the country

the deliberate annihilation of a targeted (usually subordinate) group

institutional racism
racism embedded in social institutions

intersection theory
theory that suggests we cannot separate the effects of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other attributes

minority group
any group of people who are singled out from the others for differential and unequal treatment

model minority
the stereotype applied to a minority group that is seen as reaching higher educational, professional, and socioeconomic levels without protest against the majority establishment

the ideal of the United States as a "salad bowl:" a mixture of different cultures where each culture retains its own identity and yet adds to the "flavor" of the whole

biased thought based on flawed assumptions about a group of people

racial profiling
the use by law enforcement of race alone to determine whether to stop and detain someone

racial steering
the act of real estate agents directing prospective homeowners toward or away from certain neighborhoods based on their race

a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that are used to justify the belief that one racial category is somehow superior or inferior to others

the practice of routinely refusing mortgages for households and business located in predominately minority communities

scapegoat theory
a theory that suggests that the dominant group will displace its unfocused aggression onto a subordinate group

sedimentation of racial inequality
the intergenerational impact of de facto and de jure racism that limits the abilities of black people to accumulate wealth

the physical separation of two groups, particularly in residence, but also in workplace and social functions

social construction of race
the school of thought that race is not biologically identifiable

oversimplified ideas about groups of people

subordinate group
a group of people who have less power than the dominant group

white privilege
the benefits people receive simply by being part of the dominant group