The ideology of race and it’s counterpart (racism) have been phenotypicallyinterpreted throughout history. Race, defined by Dalton Conley in his sociologically-basedbook You May Ask Yourself, as “a group of people who share a set ofcharacteristics and are said to share a common bloodline.” (Conley 322).
Ethnicity, defined by Conley is one’s ethnic quality or affiliation (Conley355). Race is something that is externally imposed and involuntary, usuallybased on physical difference (phenotype) and hierarchial based on socialconstructs. Race is exclusive and primarily unitary: you can only have onerace.
Ethnicity, however, is based on differences in practice, not phenotypicalvoluntary, self-defined/embraced by group members, non-hierarchial, fluid andmultiple: you can have many ethnical affiliations. The fundamental differencebetween race and ethnicity is that race is hierarchial and socially imposed:you have no control over your race, it’s imposed by others. You can identify asmany different ethnicities, but only one race. For example, you could identifyethnically as Russian and Irish, but can only really racially identify as blackor white. Most associate ethnicity with culture and race withbiology. Given the history of biology’s use for political means, it’s a veryimportant people to realize that race as we know it is not abiological concept. According to sociologist David Freund, “one could arguethat both ethnicity and race are socially constructed, their influence in termsof power and inequality is in the way that racial identities have beenconstructed historically. One could argue that they’re both illusory andimagined.
But racial categories have had a much more concrete impact onpeoples’ lives, because they’ve been used to discriminate and to distributeresources unequally and set up different standards for protection under law”.The core focus of this excerpt is that the influence of race and ethnicity areglobal, and have both been used to highlight inequality. An example of racialinequality is in the 1950’s, when racial segregation was extremely prevalent,and thousands of people were killed over the philosophy of white privilege. Anexample of ethnic inequality is Hitler’s reign over Germany, and hisantisemitism towards Jews, where he put thousands of Jews in concentrationcamps and killed them, all because of their ethnicity: Jewish. There are manytheories regarding inequalities and how they are related to race and ethnicity.As afunctionalist view, ethnic and racial inequalities must have served animportant function in order to exist as long as they have. However, this conceptraised some questions. How can racial prejudice contribute positively tosociety? A functionalist might look at “functions” and “dysfunctions” caused byracial inequality.
Anthropologist Manning Nash (1964) focused his argument onthe way racism is functional for the dominant group, for example, suggestingthat racism morally justifies a racially unequal society. For example, the way thatslave owners justified slavery in the South: by suggesting that black peoplewere fundamentally inferior to white and preferred slavery instead of freedom.