Race and Ethnicity

Race and Ethnicity



are race and ethnicity, and how are they

created by society?


prejudice, discrimination, stereotypes, and

the interactions of minority and majority groups

today via a critical look at: pluralism, assimilation,

segregation, genocide.


are race and ethnicity important dimensions of

social inequality today [Stratification revisited]?


The systematic killing of one category of

people by another

Deadly form of racism and ethnocentrism

Violates every moral standard

Common throughout history


Important to recognize the degree to which

U.S. society was built

Segregation of African Americans

Genocide of Native Americans

Race Ethnicity in the United States

…Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe


The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to


I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

From the

New Colossus

By Emma Lazarus (Base of Statue of Liberty) 1883

Native Americans

Refers to hundreds of societies who first

settled the Western Hemisphere



century: Numbered in the millions

By 1900: Numbered 250,000

Centuries of conflict and genocide

Indigenous Language Families –

North America

Listed but could not copy.


Depopulation/ Genocide

1492: Pop. 25 -40 million

1890: Official US government census of

“reservations” Pop. 225,000

So for the US to exist, Native Americans lost as

99 out of 100 people

This is a major ethnohistorical finding that should

no longer be ignored


Benjamin Franklin 1750s

“If it be the design of

Providence to extirpate

these Savages in order to,

make room for cultivators

of the Earth, it seems not

improbable that rum may

be the appointed means. It

has already annihilated all

the tribes who formerly

inhabited the sea-coast.”

Orders of George Washington

to General John Sullivan,

May 31, 1779

The immediate

objectives are the total

destruction and

devastation of their

settlements and the

capture of as many

prisoners of every age

and sex as possible. It

will be essential to ruin

their crops in the ground

and prevent their planting


John Quincy Adams

, 1802, when rationalizing

territorial imperatives as God’s will

“What is the right of the

huntsman to the forest of a

thousand miles over which

he has accidentally ranged

in quest of prey? Shall the

fields and vallies, which a

beneficent God has formed

to teem with the life of

innumerable multitudes, be

condemned to everlasting


General Philip Henry Sheridan

Commissioner of Indian Affairs

, 1887


took away

their country and

their means of

support, broke up

their mode of

living, their habits

of life, introduced

disease and decay

among them and it

was for this and

against this they

made war. Could

anyone expect


General Philip Henry Sheridan


“The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

“This language which is good enough for a white

man or a black man ought to be good enough for

the red man. It is also believed that teaching an

Indian youth in his own barbarous dialect is a

positive detriment to him. The impractibility, if not

impossibility, of civilizing the Indians of this country

in any other tongue than our own would seem

obvious (1887)

Theodore Roosevelt

“The settler and pioneer

have at bottom had justice

on their side; this great

continent could not have

been kept as nothing but a

game preserve for squalid

savages. Moreover, to the

most oppressed Indian

nations the whites often

acted as a protection, or, at

least, they deferred instead

of hastening their fate.”

Image Bank

Native Americans

What cultural factors have led to the low

social standing of Native Americans? What

can be done to improve their social standing?

Noncompetitive view of life [Oneness]

Reluctance to pursue higher education

Dark skin made them targets of prejudice and



SOCY 100 Reflection:

1. Considering the genocide committed upon Native Americans,

the stereotypical images of the "Indian" that is a fixture in the US

media, their virtual exclusion from the history books in schools.

and their socio-economic status of poverty to date, are Native

American team mascots in American Schools and Sports teams

honoring Native American Peoples?

Or, do such logos and mascots further the vicious cycle of

prejudice and discrimination against them?

What do you think?

2. Will Billy Mills and others win this battle? Why or Why not?

Dishonorable Mention

(2004 HBO Sports)

The Social Meaning of Race and Ethnicity

People often confuse race and ethnicity.

Millions of people in the United States do not

think of themselves in terms of a single

category but as having a mixed ancestry.


A socially constructed category of people

who share biologically transmitted traits that

members of a society consider important

Why do people display “racial characteristics”?


Variety of racial traits is the product of


We think of race in biological terms, but it is a

socially constructed concept

Race is a matter of social definitions and is a

highly variable concept

Social Race


The meaning and importance of race not only

differ from place to place but also changes

over time

Today in the US, the Census Bureau allows

people to describe themselves using more

than one racial category


Racial types

Scientists invented the concept of race to organize

the world’s physical diversity

Caucasoid – Caucus Mountains

Negroid – Dark/ Black Continent

Mongoloid – Mongolia

How could the terminology used to describe racial

categories be misleading and harmful?


Such categories allow societies to rank/

stratify people in a hierarchy…

Gives some more money, power, and prestige

Allow some people to feel they are naturally

“better” than others (Ethnocentrism)

Because race matters so much, societies

construct racial categories in extreme ways


A trend toward mixture

Genetic traits from around the world have

become mixed

Today, people are willing to define themselves as



Researchers have found that biracial and

multiracial people choose different racial

identities in different settings…

depending on whom they are with.

Have you every experienced such a

“racial shift”?


According to the scientific research

There is more genetic variation



category than



From a


point of view, knowing people’s

racial category allows us to predict nothing about



A shared cultural heritage

People define themselves as members of an

ethnic category that have a distinctive identity

Common ancestors




Like race, ethnicity is socially constructed and

its meaning has changed over time


Race is constructed from



Ethnicity is constructed from




Any category of people distinguished by physical or

cultural difference that a society sets apart and

subordinates via differential and unequal treatment

Based on race, ethnicity, age or both

Two Important characteristics

Unequal treatment /Experience


Lack power compared to the dominant (most powerful) group

Share a

distinct identity (physical cultural linguistic traits)

Involuntary membership into group

Awareness of subordination

High rate of in-group marriage

Minority Groups

Minority groups usually make up a small

proportion of a society’s population

But there are exceptions…

– blacks in South Africa

– women in the U.S.

Prejudice and Stereotypes

Prejudice may target people of:

A particular social class


Sexual orientation


Political affiliation




Biased thinking

Beliefs, thoughts, feelings, attitudes about a group

A rigid and unfair generalization about an

entire category of people

Prejudices are prejudgments

Rooted in culture so everyone has some measure

of prejudice


Often takes the form of


An exaggerated description applied to every

person in some category

Especially harmful to minorities in the


Are there stereotypes in common phrases or

images in our society? Explain and provide


Harmful images of them… never of us

Measuring Prejudice: The Social Distance


Social Distance

Refers to how closely people are willing to interact

with members of some category

introduced by

Emory Bogardus

Found that people felt more social distance from some

categories than others


Measuring Prejudice: The Social Distance


Three major findings

Student opinion shows a trend toward greater

social acceptance

People see less difference between various


The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, might

have reduced social acceptance of Arabs and



A type of prejudice used to justify

the belief that one racial category is

innately superior or inferior to another

Powerful and harmful form of prejudice

Existed throughout world history

Widespread throughout U.S. history

Do you believe that racism is still a serious problem

throughout our society today?

Theories of Prejudice

Scapegoat theory

Prejudice springs from frustration among people

who are themselves disadvantaged


A person or category of people, typically with little

power, whom other people unfairly blame for their own


Minorities often are used as scapegoats

They have little power

Usually are “safe targets”

(X) Theories of Prejudice

Authoritarian personality theory

Extreme prejudice is a personality trait of certain


Research indicates

that people who show strong prejudice toward one minority

are intolerant of all minorities


Rigidly conform to conventional cultural values

See moral issues as clear-cut matters of right and wrong

People with little education and raised by cold, demanding

parents tend to develop authoritarian personalities

Theories of Prejudice

Culture theory

Claims that although extreme prejudice is found in

certain people, some prejudice is found in


“Culture of prejudice”

Taught to view certain categories of people as “better”

or “worse” than others

Rem: ethnocentrism… US/ Them



Unequal treatment of various categories of people

NOTE: while


refers to



is a matter of



Positive or negative


Subtle to blatant

Does prejudice and discrimination always go

together? Explain and give examples. Discrimination


Unequal treatment of various categories of people

NOTE: while


refers to



is a matter of



Positive or negative


Subtle to blatant

Does prejudice and discrimination always go

together? Explain and give examples.


Prejudice and Discrimination

Bias built into the operation of society’s


Why are people often slow to condemn or

recognize institutional prejudice?

Often involves respected public officials and

long-established traditions


A girl like me: featurette

the doll test used in arguments to demonstrate separate and

unequal in education.

Prejudice and discrimination reinforce each


Situations that are defined as real become

real in their consequences…


Real to people who believe them

Real to those victimized by them

Majority and Minority:

Patterns of Interaction

Four models


A state in which people of all races and ethnicities

are distinct but have equal social standing


The process by which minorities gradually adopt

patterns of the dominant culture


Segregation enforces separation that harms a



The systematic killing of one category of people by


Is the United States a Pluralistic Society?

Assimilation/ Amalgamation Melting Pots

-vs- Pluralism Salads Bowl

U.S. is a pluralistic society on paper only…

All “Men are Created Equal”

but is not a pluralistic society because:

Our tolerance for social diversity goes only so far

People of various colors and cultures do not have equal social

standing in our society.

If we Americans were truly a cultural

Melting Pot

we’d all be viewed as same/ assimilated

[unable to preserve our cultures]… and therefore equal.

We are more of a cultural

Salad Bowl


distinct cultures and ethnicities are like the ingredients

of a salad.

Individual ingredients come together to form

a better tasting and more nutritious whole, while

retaining their flavor and not becoming one

homogeneous/ same.

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