Assignment: Race a Social Construct

Assignment: Race a Social Construct

The 2010 U.S. Census questions related to ethnicity and race can be found in Figure 1.1 and Figure 1.2. Box 1.1 explains how these terms were defined in the 2010 census. The U.S. government declared that Hispanics and Latinos are an ethnicity and not a race.

FIGURE 1.1 U.S. Census origin question, 2010. Source: Population Reference Bureau (2013).
FIGURE 1.2 U.S. Census race question, 2010. Source: Population Reference Bureau (2013).

It is important to note that there is great variation within each of the racial and ethnic categories. For example, American Indians are grouped together even though there are variations between the tribes. It is essential to be aware of the differences that occur within these groups and not to stereotype people. Stereotyping people by their race and ethnicity is racism. Racism is the belief that some races are superior to others by nature. Discrimination occurs when people act on that belief and treat people differently as a result. Discrimination can occur because of beliefs related to factors such as race, sexual orientation, dialect, religion, or gender.

Ethnicity is the socially defined characteristic of a group of people who share common cultural factors such as race, history, national origin, religious belief, or language.

Race and Ethnicity Race refers to a person’s physical characteristics and genetic or biological makeup, but race is not a scientific construct. Race is a social construct that was developed to categorize people, and it was based on the notion that some “ races” are superior to others. Many professionals in the fields of biology, sociology, and anthropology have determined that race is a social construct and not a biological one because not one characteristic, trait, or gene distinguishes all the members of one so- called race from all the members of another so-called race. “ There is more genetic variation within races than between them, and racial categories do not capture biological distinctiveness” (Williams, Lavizzo-Mourey, & Warren, 1994).

Why is race important if it does not really exist? Race is important because society makes it important. Race shapes social, cultural, political, ideological, and legal functions in society. Race is an institutionalized concept that has had devastating consequences. Race has been the basis for deaths from wars and murders and suffering caused by discrimination, violence, torture, and hate crimes. The ideology of race has been the root of suffering and death for centuries even though it has little scientific merit.
You must proofread your paper. But do not strictly rely on your computer’s spell-checker and grammar-checker; failure to do so indicates a lack of effort on your part and you can expect your grade to suffer accordingly. Papers with numerous misspelled words and grammatical mistakes will be penalized. Read over your paper – in silence and then aloud – before handing it in and make corrections as necessary. Often it is advantageous to have a friend proofread your paper for obvious errors. Handwritten corrections are preferable to uncorrected mistakes.

Use a standard 10 to 12 point (10 to 12 characters per inch) typeface. Smaller or compressed type and papers with small margins or single-spacing are hard to read. It is better to let your essay run over the recommended number of pages than to try to compress it into fewer pages.

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The paper must be neatly formatted, double-spaced with a one-inch margin on the top, bottom, and sides of each page. When submitting hard copy, be sure to use white paper and print out using dark ink. If it is hard to read your essay, it will also be hard to follow your argument.

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