How Do Race And Ethnicity Affect Identity?

By Antonia Čirjak on June 2 2020 in Society

The relationship between race, ethnicity and identity is a complex subject.
The relationship between race, ethnicity and identity is a complex subject.
  • Ethnicity means that an individual belongs to a specific culture, social groups, or nation.
  • Although race is defined by physical, biological attributes, it is also strongly tied to cultural and behavioral attributes as well.
  • Belonging to a specific culture tends to strongly shape a persons identity.

The relationship between race, ethnicity, and identity is a complex subject. All of those concepts are intertwined and create a web of relations that work in many different ways. They are able to impact people’s lives in many ways. Throughout the culture we grow up in, we can develop a sense of self, that allows us to better recognize who we are. Through that, our identity can change drastically, and change how we look at the world, as well as how the world views us.

Race and ethnicity come into question when talking about culture because the culture we practice is often determined by the two. However, that is not always the case. Still, race and ethnicity have multiple ways they can affect our identities. 

The Difference Between Race And Ethnicity

Defining our identity is not an easy task. Many people would not be able to find a simple answer to this. Some would go ahead and pick their profession, while others would speak of their skin color or nationality. This draws other things into the equation, such as religion and language. All of those things interact with each other to create our identities. However, one could argue that race and ethnicity play an extremely large and powerful role.

First of all, we should try to separate race from ethnicity, because there are people that might not know the difference. These terms are often used interchangeably, mostly when we are describing the diversity in our society. It is actually not that hard to separate the two terms. Race is defined by mostly physical attributes, however, it also mixes in some cultural and behavioral attributes as well. On the other hand, ethnicity refers to a state of belonging to a specific culture, mostly different social groups, or even nations. Race is something that is in our biology, and ethnicity is something we acquire through life.

The Influence On Identity

Although these two concepts might seem abstract, one less than the other, they do have a huge influence on peoples’ identities and how they live their lives. Their power is enormous, and they can influence how societies function. People often define others by race, it is ingrained into their consciousness. This is something that can affect others negatively, and should not become a habit. Despite someone being of a specific race, there should be no prejudice on how they are expected to behave. However, these expectations from others can influence how their identities are built. Because of racism, it is fair to expect that some minorities have adapted specific patterns of behavior.

The same can be said about ethnicity. People from more developed parts of the world, for example, can have specific expectations from people that come from certain cultures. These expectations can often be negative, and wrong. They are often based on prejudice. This is why people that belong to certain cultures can develop a strong sense of belonging to that culture. They can develop their identity in that way, and it shapes them as a person. It is important to realize that we should be respectful of everyone, no matter their race or ethnicity. People should be judged based on their deeds, not the color of their skin or the country they live in.

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