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Demographic structure of society - race and ethnicity

Video transcript

there are many inequalities in a population based on race and ethnicity just to get some terminology out of the way let's figure out the difference between race and ethnicity race is a socially defined category that is based on physical differences between groups of people racial formation theory looks at the social economic and political forces that result in socially constructed racial identity sometimes these differences are real but sometimes they are only perceived or are defined by history in the 1800's if a person in the United States had a black ancestor they could be considered black even if they appeared white honestly though since all humans are 99.9% identical genetically there really isn't enough wiggle room in human DNA for there to be a genetic foundation for race and yet it is incredibly important on a social level every culture places a different importance on specific physical characteristics for example in the u.s. race is identified by broad categories of skin color but hair color is considered unimportant in South America there are more specific categories of skin color the Latin American race in the u.s. may be broken down into five or even six different categories of races in South America ethnicity is also socially defined but instead of using fiscal characteristics these groups are defined by a shared language religion nationality history or some other cultural factor ethnic groups are less statistically defined than racial groups and the definitions can change over time sometimes the ethnic minority can even be absorbed into the majority after a generation or two a minority consists of a group that makes up less than half the total population and is treated differently because I'm some characteristic in the 1900s native-born Americans did not consider Irish Italian or Jewish immigrants to be white which actually resulted in a discrimination against them and limited where they could live discrimination is the unjust treatment of a category of people simply because they belong to that category it often results from prejudice which is when someone has some preconceived opinion that isn't based on reason or experience okay let's get back to those immigrants well the immigrants were considered white the children of those immigrants were considered white because they were culturally American and so their skin colored could be used to determine their ethnic identity as we begin to look at socially defined groups of people please keep in mind that what I'm saying doesn't apply to everyone in that group just like the English language there are always exceptions and we need to be sure not to stereotype everyone in a group we can look at statistical values for a group but these are only guidelines trends to keep in mind as we look at the population as a whole there are a lot of statistical differences between both different races and different ethnicities racial differences especially can cause some drastic events such as genocide or population transfer where a group is forcefully moved from their territory or internal colonialism where a minority group is segregated and exploited or assimilation where the minority group is absorbed into the majority pluralism on the other hand actually encourages racial and ethnic variation in a society statistically families education income birth rates and life expectancies all vary between racial and ethnic groups there's a widespread disparity in health care between racial and ethnic groups as well many Americans simply cannot afford basic health care which then affects the lifespan these people statistically minorities tend to have shorter life span because of limited access to health care lower income jobs that can have greater dangers in the workplace higher prevalence of toxins in the environment as well as personal behaviors like drinking or a poor diet throughout history dominant groups have racialized minority groups this means the dominant group ascribed some racial identity to members of a minority group that they do not identify for themselves you can see this in the labor force of the United States there's a myth in the United States that everyone has equal opportunities in life including access to education in reality different races tend to be stereotyped for certain jobs minorities are expected to have lower paying jobs while majorities are expected to have higher paying jobs Asian Americans and whites overall have more access to education than African Americans or Latin Americans and what it usually comes down to is economic and cultural factors the cost of education can be too high for minorities who statistically tend to work lower wage jobs and culturally for some people starting a family is more important than continuing an education this perpetuates the trend of difficulties for minorities but it isn't just the cultural differences our society is structured so that racial and economic subordination develops and is sustained in order to get a higher paying job you need a good education so when education is not a priority or isn't available or when it is simply withheld because of discrimination the jobs available are unskilled or semi-skilled low-paying jobs an interesting discrimination among different races and ethnicities is present in the criminal justice system while laws may not seem racist the punishment for similar offenses vary drastically for example the punishment for crack cocaine which is less expensive and used by low income users is much tougher than for powdered cocaine which is much more expensive this separates the rich from the poor in the justice system handing out tougher sentences to low-income criminals who statistically are minorities there are also higher unemployment and dropout rates for minorities providing fewer options other than crime if you look at the percentage of people in jail who are minorities is much higher than the percentage of minorities who live in the United States these numbers don't line up percentage-wise more minorities are being incarcerated than their white counterparts