quality or affiliation. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), in a 1999
report edited by Haynes, M.A. and Smedley,
ethnicity as how one sees oneself and how one is “seen by others
as part of a group on the basis of presumed ancestry and sharing a common
Common threads that
may tie one to an ethnic group include skin color, religion, language,
customs, ancestry, and occupational
or regional features. In addition, persons belonging to the same ethnic
group share a unique history different from that of other ethnic groups.
Usually, a combination of these features identifies an ethnic group.
For example, physical appearance alone does not consistently identify
one as belonging to a particular ethnic group.
Race: There is an array
of different beliefs about the definition of race and what race means
within social, political and biological contexts.
The following definitions are representative of these perspectives:
- A tribe, people or nation belonging to the same stock;
a division of humankind possessing traits that are transmissible
to characterize it as a distinctive human type;
- As a social construct
used to separate the world’s peoples.
There is only one race, the human race, comprised of individuals
that are more or less similar to others;
- Evidence from the Human
Genome project indicates that the genetic code for all human beings
is 99.9% identical; there are more differences
within groups (or races) than across groups.
- The IOM (Haynes & Smedley,
eds., 1999) states that in all instances race is a social and cultural
construct. Specifically a “construct
of human variability based on perceived differences in
biology, physical appearance, and behavior”. The IOM states that
the traditional conception of race rests on the false premise that
distinctions grounded in significant biological and behavioral differences
can be drawn between groups.
Acculturation. Cultural modification of
an individual, group, or
people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture;
of cultures as a result of prolonged contact. It should be noted
from culturally diverse groups may desire varying degrees of acculturation
into the dominant culture.
Assimilation: to assume the cultural
traditions of a given people or group.
Cultural group. A cultural group
is defined simply as
of individuals who share a core set of beliefs, patterns of
behavior, and values. The groups may be large or small, but they are
by their ways of thinking and behaving. All cultural groups
are marked by intragroup variation. Many factors of diversity impact
including, but not limited to: ethnicity, country of origin,
language, gender, race,
physical appearance, age, religion, sexual identity, disability,
education, and social class or status.
Cultural identity. Usually,
individuals draw a major part of their sense of themselves from the
cultural groups in which
up and were socialized. This sense
of themselves shapes their cultural identity. Again, factors of diversity
influence an individual’s total identity at any given
time, factors that are more or less permanent, such as gender,
race, age cohort, physical ability/characteristics,
and sexual orientation; or are fluid factors, such as educational
background, religion, occupation, marital or parental status,
socioeconomic class, or military and refugee experience.
People in a cultural group who form
bonds with each other around some of these diverse factors may form
Just as cultures are not static, neither are
personal identities that are derived from cultural conceptualizations.
may be single,
or a divorcee
at different times in her life. Additionally, if a woman moves from
one culture to another, she may adopt some of her new culture’s
ideas about the role of a wife while still keeping some of her old
The cultural framework or lens. One
way of conceptualizing the effect of culture is seeing it as a lens
which cultural group members
a pair of glasses, it influences how one sees reality. Through
this lens or framework, culture helps people sort and decide what
are attended to and how; and
what stimuli are not attended to and, most important, confers conscious
and subconscious value, positive or negative, on events, behaviors,
communication, and so on.
Individuals acquire this lens through the process of socialization,
which begins in infancy and continues throughout life.
racism. “Students, research workers, and professionals
in the behavioral sciences—like members of the clergy and
no more immune by virtue of their values and training to the
diseases and superstitions of American racism than the average
B. Clark, 1971, excerpt from Mazel’s 1998 book, “And
don’t call me a racist!”). “The
very absence of visible signs of discrimination creates an atmosphere
of racial neutrality and encourages Whites to believe that racism
is a thing of the past” (Derrick
Bell, 1992, excerpt from Mazel’s 1998 book, “And
call me a racist!”).
Micro inequities. Micro inequities
are “apparently small events which are
often ephemeral and hard to prove, events which are covert, often
unintentional, and frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator.
Micro inequities occur whenever
people are perceived to be ‘different’…[and] work both by excluding
the person of difference and by making that person less self-confident
and less productive.” “These mechanisms of prejudice
against persons of difference are usually small in nature,
but not trivial in effect. They are especially powerful
taken together.” (Rowe, 1990, p. 2).
The following terms
are from the work of Jose J. Soto, JD, (2004):
Prejudice: negative attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs
toward an entire category of people formed beforehand and without
of the facts.
Racism: any program or practice of racial
discrimination, segregation, persecution, and domination based on race;
that one’s own ethnic
stock is superior.
Individual racism: personal attitudes,
beliefs, and behaviors designed to convince oneself of
the superiority of one’s race/ethnicity over those
of other races/ethnicities.
Institutional: social, economic, educational, and political
forces or policies that operate to foster discriminatory
of one group over others.
Cultural racism: beliefs, feelings,
and behaviors of the members of a cultural group that assert
of their group’s accomplishments, achievements,
and creativity over those of other groups based on race.
Examples of activities that have had negative impacts
on persons of color:
- Exclusion from unions, organizations,
and social clubs
- Seniority systems (“last hired, first fired”)
- Role casting in media based on stereotypes
- Pricing in real estate
- Neglect in maintenance/repair of rental properties
- Inferior municipal
services (trash, policing, streets)
- Gerrymandering ..fixing the
- Admissions based on test scores..tests biased
- Differential education
based on preconceived potential or ability
- One-sided curriculum.