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Race vs. Ethnicity

Race and Ethnicity all you need to Know


Race and ethnicity have been used to categorize certain sections of the population. In basic terms, race describes physical traits, and ethnicity refers to cultural identification.

The race might also be identified as something that you inherit while ethnicity is something you learn.

This article details the differences between race and ethnicity and defines the ways that various groups are categorized according to the United States Census Bureau.

Race vs. Ethnicity:

Race and ethnicity are generally misunderstood as most people frequently don’t fit into neat categories which are made available on types with checkboxes.

We don’t necessarily have any evaluations or scientific foundation to different people out; people are able to self-identify.


The dictionary by Merriam-Webster defines race as”a category of humankind that shares specific distinctive physical traits.”

The race is usually associated with biology and linked with physical traits, such as hair texture or skin color, and covers a comparatively narrow range of options.

Yet folks of similar complexions/hair textures could be described as different races, and definitions from the USA have changed over time.

When completing paperwork that asks for a race, You get asked to identify yourself to one or more of these classes:

  • White
  • Black
  • Asian
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
  • African American

Occasionally, you might be asked to select only 1 category.


Ethnicity is a wider term than race. The expression is used to categorize groups of people according to their cultural expression and identification.

Commonalities like racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural sources may be employed to describe a person’s ethnicity.

While a person may say their race is “Black,” their own ethnicity may be Italian, or somebody may state their race is “White,” and their ethnicity is Irish.

United States Census Bureau:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau site, they inquire about race and ethnicity since they are collecting information regarding civil rights.

Race Data:

Race data affects the financing of government programs that provide services for specific groups.

They also gather data about race because they are ensuring that policies serve the demands of racial groups. They want to track compliance with anti-discrimination regulations and laws too.

Their information race is based on self-identification. They report that their classes “are not an effort to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically.”

And they make it clear that respondents can indicate more than 1 race on the form to indicate their racial mix.

The categories listed under”Race” have evolved during the past 200-plus decades.

Currently, the U.S. Census Bureau utilizes the following guide to help people pick the class that best describes them:


“The category ‘White’ contains all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.”

Some examples of these groups include Italian, German, Lebanese, Cajun, Chaldean, Slavic, Iranian, French, Polish, Egyptian, Irish, and English.

Black or African American:

“The group ‘Black or African American’ includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.”

Individuals who identify as Ghanaian, South African, Barbadian, Kenyan, Liberian, and Bahamian also fall under this category.

American Indian or Alaska Native:

“The category ‘American Indian or Alaska Native American’ includes all individuals who identify with any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment.”

Groups that fall under this category include:

  • Navajo Nation
  • Blackfeet Tribe
  • Mayan
  • Aztec
  • Asian

“The group ‘Asian’ includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating from the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent.”

You will find individual Asian checkboxes for People that identify as one or more of these:

  • Chinese
  • Filipino
  • Vietnamese
  • Korean
  • Japanese
  • Other Asian (e.g., Pakistani, Cambodian, and Hmong)
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander:

“The group ‘Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander’ contains all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.”

There are individual Pacific Islander checkboxes for People That identify as one or more of these:

  • Native Hawaiian
  • Samoan
  • Chamorro
  • Other Pacific Islander (e.g., Tongan, Fijian, and Marshallese)
Other Races:

If you don’t identify with any of the aforementioned groups, you can simply choose the “Some Other Race” category and enter how you identify yourself.

Ethnicity Data:

The U.S. Census Bureau asks if you are of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish descent. They recognize that individuals who describe themselves as fitting into this category could be of any race.

The Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish categories refer to individuals who identify with any of the ethnic groups originating from:

  • Mexico
  • Puerto Rico
  • Cuba
  • Should you not identify with any of these groups, you would select the choice”Not of Hispanic, Spanish, or Latino origin”

Problems With Categorization:

Historically, the idea of “race” has been utilized to divide members of society, and it is often based on superficial physical traits.

There’s research showing that people who have similar physical attributes are not as similar genetically as some people today think.

Scientists have found that skin color variations stem from adaptations to the environment.

Darker skin colors evolved because of more solar exposure.

So grouping people based on their skin color only shows their ancestors got similar amounts of the sun –they might really have very little in common genetically.

People Don’t Always Fit Into Categories:

While organizations might want to collect data on a population’s race and ethnicity data, individuals do not always fit into easy categories.

Many individuals identify with various racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Rather they may identify as belonging to a lot of classes, or else they could feel as if they constitute a smaller group that doesn’t appear on the paperwork instead (which is whenever the fill-in-the-blank kind questions may be helpful).

We Are More Alike Than We Are Different:

In line with the human genome project, our DNA is 99.9% the exact same, and also the differences between people who are accounted for are significantly less than 1 percent of DNA.

In other words, we should observe and appreciate the differences of one another while keeping in mind we are all part of the exact same human family.

Bottom Line:

The terms we use, the categories we offer, and our beliefs about genetic make-up will continue to change over time.

However, for the time being, authorities forms are very likely to continue asking questions about both race and ethnicity–even though not everybody will agree with the questions or the answer choices.

Ask your friends and loved ones for support.

If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, consider joining a support group or seeking counseling. Believe in your ability to take control of the pain…

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