What is the Sociology of Race and Ethnicity?

(W.E.B du Bois)

The sociology of race and ethnicity is the study of the construction of race and how this affects society.

The Sociology of Race and Ethnicity was my favorite course back in university because it revealed so many aspects of people and society that I didn't realize. I hope that through this post -- and many more like it -- you will achieve the same realizations I did.

What is 'race'? 'Race,' contrary to popular belief, is a social creation (that is why some sociologists put single quotes around the word). It is not biological because people from same ethnic groups (a group of people who share the same culture) do not have the same behaviors, personalities, and philosophies on life.

Take for example an Asian person born and raised in Canada and a person born and raised in Asia. Though they may have some similar traits, such as the type of food they enjoy (which is socially learned), they definitely have differences. 

An example would be etiquette. Asian people from Asia have different social etiquette than Asian people from western nations. They behave differently because the two cultures and ways of living are different.

Racism, on the other hand, is real. It is one group expressing superiority over another group based on 'race.' And since racism is systemic (or institutional), the 'race' with power tends to look down and oppress the minority communities.

An example of this would be a government creating policies that prevent (or makes it very difficult for) minorities from receiving opportunities that will help them become successful.

Another illustration of this would be a young white kid who has lived most of his life with privilege thinking that he is better than a Mexican because the Mexican isn't a wealthy white person.

Discrimination is a term that tends to be confused with racism. Unlike racism, which deals with power and superiority, discrimination is the negative action (mental or physical) against a person or group based on 'race.'

An example of discrimination would be a person harassing an individual because of their odd-looking traditional dress or "stinky" food.

These are the terms that you should digest before we move forward. I will leave you with these until next week.

Any questions? Ask me on Twitter @EverythingSLGY or Facebook at Everything Sociology.

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