Thursday, July 18, 2019

Race & Ethnicity in Our Society Essay

Race and ethnicity are important concepts and plays a great deal among our society. Very few of us are aware of the difference between race and ethnicity. Many of us assumed that is the same definition. In Sociology this terms have a very specific and different meaning. Race: Is your biological features this can include your skin color, eye and hair color, as well as a tendency toward developing certain diseases. Race can’t be changed or disguised. Race does not have customs or globally learned behaviors. In other words race refers to only your genetic history and identifiable physical characteristics that are separate and distinct from other races. For example Hispanics are always generalized as Puerto Rican. Skin color does not necessarily connect to your cultural background. Ethnicity: Is a concept referring to a shared culture and way of life. This can be reflected in language, religion, material culture such as clothing and food and cultural products such as art and music. Ethnicity is often a major source of social cohesion and social conflict. Ethnicity is not just a person’s race. For example the term Caucasian means white, but this term doesn’t describe a person’s ethnicity. We can have three white people from different parts of the world like Canada, Ireland, and England. Just by looking at them we can’t determine from what part of the world they are from. But, if we give them appropriate items from their culture, like religion, language, food preparation and preferences, then is easy to determine their origin. Ethnicity is about tradition, behaviors and customs. We can change our ethnicity but not our race. Ethnic groups have a consciousness of their common cultural bond. Ethnic groups doesn’t exist simply because of the common national or cultural origin of the group, they develop because of their unique historical and social experiences, which became the basis for the group’s ethnic identity. For example prior to immigration to the United States, any group of immigrants did not think of themselves as a distinct group with common interest and experiences. However, the process of immigration and the experiences they faced as a group in the United States, including discrimination, created a new identity for the group. Some examples of ethnic groups include Italian Americans, Polish Americans, Mexican Americans, and Irish Americans. Other ethnic groups are found in other societies such as in Afghanistan and Iraq, whose ethnicity is base on religious differences. Like ethnicity, race is a socially constructed category. A race is a group that is treated as distinct in society based on certain characteristics. Because of their biological or cultural characteristics, which are labeled as inferior by powerful groups in society, a race is often singled out for differential and unfair treatment. It is not the biological characteristics that define racial groups, but how they have been treated historically and socially. Society assigns people to racial categories such as blacks, whites, Hispanics etc. not because of science, logic or fact, but, because of opinion and social experience. Hispanics and blacks are perceived as minority group who share common characteristics like low status in society, there is more poverty among them, and low education standards. A minority group is any distinct group in society that shares common characteristics and is forced to occupy low status in society because of prejudice and discrimination. A group may be classified as minority on the basis of ethnicity, race, sexual preference, age, or class status. It is important to note that a minority group is not necessarily the minority in terms of numbers, but it is a group that holds a low status in relation to other groups in society. (Regardless of the size). The group that assigns a racial or ethnic group to subordinate status in society is called The Dominant group. One of the problems that have an impact on race and ethnicity is stereotypes. It is an oversimplified opinion and judgment about individuals of a social group. It is also a tendency where humans characterize a person of a race or ethnic group based on assumptions criticizing one’s appearance. Some examples of this are: Chinese and Indians are good in math and sciences, but are poor in English and humanities, White Americans are lazy, obese, and judgmental towards other races and are highly materialistic. Italians are always in a mob, Irish people are always drunk and African Americans are drug peddlers, thugs, good dancers, and good at athletics. Additionally, there are other forms of stereotypes such as: gender stereotypes that are based on an individual’s gender and some examples are: men make great business leaders and women make good homemakers, men are masculine and strong, women are good cooks, they want to have babies and make great nurses. Another stereotype is social class that is based on social status in society and some examples of this are: homeless people have behavioral problems, are into substance abuse, lazy and smelly, working class are naive and not street smart, and upper class are judged as being shallow, arrogant and untrustworthy There are several sociological theories about why prejudice, discrimination and racism exist. Prejudice and discrimination are two similar terms that deal with negative misjudgments and disrespect. Prejudice is unreasonable feelings and attitudes toward a social group based on preconceived preference without any knowledge or facts about that group’s race or ethnicity. There have been researches that state the origin of prejudice began from learning and observing manners from peers, parents, and the media. For example, if children imitate their parents complaining against another individual of a different nationality, then that child will mature and think negative ideas about those members of that culture. In the media, movies, magazines, books and newspapers depicted some nationalities in pessimistic images; for example, Japanese Americans were shown as sneaky and untrustworthy and American Indians were presented as scoundrels or submissive characters. As for discrimination, it is a behavior of contempt and insolence against members of a group rather than show consideration for an individual’s merit. An example of this is a landlord doesn’t rent an apartment to someone because that individual is mentally retarded and a property manager checks the credit records of all Hispanics and black applicants and sues small credit problems as an excuse to refuse to rent an apartment, but doesn’t always look at the records of white applicants and overlooks small credit problems in their records. Racism is a term where negative attitudes and behaviors are linked together and makes an individual belonging to a racial or ethnic group as intellectually, socially, and culturally inferior to one’s own group. Furthermore, there are many types of racism that exist in society such as: old-fashion racism, which deals with physical violence; aversive racism, is being stealthy or not interacting with someone of another race or ethnic; laissez-faire racism which occurred after the Second World War and during the 1950s , is a subtle but constant negative stereotyping of minorities, a tendency for whites to blame a racial group for gaps in socioeconomic standings, occupational achievement and educational achievement, and clear resistance to meaningful policy efforts designed to improve America’s racially oppressive social conditions and practices. The next racism is color-blindness because an individual affected by this type of racism prefers to ignore lawful racial, ethnic, cultural and other differences and insists that racial issues in America will go away if only race is ignored all together. Lastly, institutional racism is negative judgment and coercion of one racial or ethnic group by society’s existing institutions based on presumed inferiority of the oppressed group. An example of this is racial filing, where if an African American or Hispanic individual is arrested, they are considered to serve more sentence time than that of Whites and Asians. In fact, an African American or Hispanic who commits a crime, are more likely to get arrested than a White person committing the exact same crime. Yet, there are three types of sociological theories that study on the origins of racism, discrimination and prejudice. They are: functionalists, symbolic interaction and conflict. First, functionalist theory has its origins in the work of Emile Durkheim and it interprets each part of society as a whole. Meaning, that the different parts of society are organized to fill the different needs and each has particular consequences for the form and shape of society. Also, from this perspective, if there is disorganization in the system, such as deviant behavior, it will affect all other parts and create social problems, which later lead to social change. So, in order for society to maintain stability, racial and ethnic minorities must assimilate into society. Meaning, that this perspective assumes that in order for minority groups to be fully pledged members of society, they must adopt the culture of the dominant society and thus give up their own culture. But, assimilation stands in dissimilarity with pluralism, which is the maintenance and perseverance of one’s own culture, language, traits, practices, art, etc. Second, symbolic interaction theories have two types of issues addressing it: one, the role of social interaction in reducing racial and ethnic hostility and second, how race and ethnicities are socially constructed. So, contact theory, which it was originated with the psychologist Gordon Allport, argues that Whites and other minorities groups will reduce racism, discrimination and prejudice with each other, but only through these three conditions. First, the contact must be between individuals of equal status and both parties must interact on equal grounds. Second, the contacts between equals must be sustained; short-term contact will not decrease racism, discrimination and prejudice. Lastly, social norms favoring equality must be agreed upon by the participants. The third theory, conflict theory is based on class conflicts, which are inherent and fundamental part of society. Also, theorists argue that class inequality must be reduced to lessen racial and ethnic conflict in society. The current â€Å"class versus race† controversy has caused concerns of whether class or race is more important in explain inequality and its consequences of whether they are of equal importance. Those focused on class conflict, such as sociologist William Julius Wilson, have argued that class and changes in the economic structure are sometimes more important than race in improving the life chances for different groups. On the other hand, some sociologists such as Bonilla-Silva and Feagin argue the opposite. They say that race has been and is relatively more important than class – in explaining and accounting for inequality and conflict in society and that directly addressing the question of race forthrightly is the only way to solve the country’s race problems. Also, another perspective called intersection perspective refers to the interactive or combined effects of racism, classism and gender in the coercion of individuals. This perspective notes that not only are the effects of gender and race intertwined, but also both are intertwined with the effects of class. So, this is the reason why class, along with race and gender, are integral components of social structure, according to intersection perspective. Lastly, there have been individuals in history that have formed groups and organizations in order to attain ethnical and racial equality. These groups help show everyone that no matter what race or ethnicity someone belongs to, if individuals are willing to fight for civil rights and privileges, then they can make a change in society, no matter what consequences are in store. First, the civil rights movement was based on the passive resistance philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr., learned from the philosophy of Satyagraha of the East Indian Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi (meaning â€Å"leader†). This helped African Americans and black people to fight against segregation through nonviolent techniques, such as sit-ins, marches and appealing to human conscience in calls for brotherhood, justice and equality. Even though African Americans and black people fought for racial justice and civil rights before this movement, this movement brought greater civil rights under the law to many groups: women, disabled people, and the aged. In 1955, African American mistress and NAACP secretary Rosa Parks made an impact in history when she bravely refused to relinquish her seat in the â€Å"White only† section of the Montgomery bus. In addition, most of the bus drivers were African American and thanks to the action of Rosa Parks, the famous Montgomery bus boycott, led by Martin Luther King Jr. initiated. Impetus was given to the civil rights movement and the boycott due to the unspeakable death of Emmett Till in 1954. He was a black teenager who was killed in Mississippi only for whistling at a white woman in a store. So, a group of white individuals rousted Till from his bed at the home of a relative and beat him until he was dead and unrecognizable. Then, they tied a heavy cotton gin fan around his neck and dumped him in a river. Later on, Till’s mother allowed a picture of his misshapen son so that society could contemplate the horrific event that occurred and no one was prosecuted for till’s murder. The next movement known as La Raza Unida Party (The Race Party) was established on January 17, 1970 in Crystal City, Texas by Jose Gutierrez and Mario Compean. It centered on Chicano nationalism and in the 1970s, it campaign for better housing, work and educational opportunities for Mexican–Americans. It was originated by the Workmen of the World and it expanded to other states, such as California and Colorado. However, the novice city council did not implement the parties’ goals due to political and economic attacks from Anglo business, landowners in surrounding counties and political and economic attacks from Democratic and Republican parties. Still, La Raza Unida Party was still active and ran candidates for governor of Texas, Ramsey Muniz in 1972 and Mario Compean in 1974. But in 1972, they ran a candidate in a very competitive US Senate race in Colorado, Secundion Salazar, who received 1. 4% of votes. During the late 1970s, the party changed tactics to a more community based, grassroots, where Revolutionary Nationalist formations were seeking the unity of all Chicanos, Latinos and Native Americans in the southwestern of the United States by the proponents of the views of the Party, but not by non Chicanos, Latinos and Native Americans. Lastly, the American Indian Movement is a Native American activist organization in the United States, founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by urban Native Americans. It agenda focuses on spirituality, leadership and sovereignty and its members in 1968 are: Dennis Banks, George Mitchell, Herb Powless, Clyde Bellecourt, Harold Goodsky, Eddie Benton-Banai, and a number of others in Minneapolis’ Native American community. The group was formed to address various issues concerning the Native American urban community in Minneapolis, including poverty housing, treaty issues and police harassment. In the decades since its founding, the movement had led protests advocating indigenous American interest, inspired cultural renewal, monitored police activity and coordinated employment programs in cities and rural reservation communities across the United States. In conclusion do not judge a book by its cover. Each race and ethnic group brings new learning experience to our lives. Each culture allows us to grow as human beings and this is what makes America a great nation.

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