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Student Question

What is race? What is ethnicity? What role does society play in defining these terms.

Also, what is a minority? Do you think that it is appropriate for this classification to exist in states where the minority is the majority?

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Minority is more of an historical definition. It has less to do with current statistics than with who has had power. Whites have had the power, and they used to outnumber the other races. Now, even though not larger in numbers they still have the majority of the power.
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Many people will define race as a set of biological characteristics and traits that are present is a specific population of people. Ethnicity is a bit different. Ethnicity centers more around where and how people are raised in a specific culture. Some people may be of the same "color" but have different ethnicities because they were in different parts of the world. They have different cultures, beliefs, etc.

A minority is a group of people that differ from the general population. A person may be considered a minority for a number of reasons such as race or gender.

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This is an interesting question.  I liked the previous thoughts.  I also believe that the secondary question of the role society plays in the classification of said terms is powerful because this helps to impact individuals on multiple levels.  The notion of an "ethnic" or "racial" minority assists the construction of individual identity in a variety of ways.  Those deemed as "minorities" have a different experience in social settings than others.  Whether or not one wants to makes this good or bad is based on narrative experience, but it is different.  Social designations and conveying images related to these particular constructs impact daily consciousness for it provides a lens to filter such an experience.  The changing of racial or ethnic classification, gender, class experience, or sexual orientation identity all impact how one lives in a social setting and the narrative they form as a result.

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Race and ethnicity in some ways go together.  An ethnic group is a group that has a distinct culture of its own.  It tends to be a group that shares an ancestral heritage.  A race, is defined more by physical characteristics.  Thus, a black Dominican and an African American would be of the same race, but not of the same ethnicity.

Society plays a huge role in defining these terms.  We say in America, for example that a person who is (like me) half-Asian and half-white is Asian.  As long as a person looks partly (for example) Asian, he is an Asian even if he is just as white as he is Asian.  So our society defines how much of a certain set of physical characteristics you have to have before you are a member of a given race.

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