View Poll Results: Is American an Ethnicity?

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Thread: Is American an Ethnicity?

  1. #11
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    Re: Is American an Ethnicity?

    Ethnicity is nothing more than a social construct; it doesn't have any objective genetic basis. So if a group of people considers themselves to be of the same ethnicity, then they are. The whole concept of ethnicity varies from one nation to another. In some parts of the world, it's very common for people to identify their ethnicity and their nationality as one and the same (i.e. China, Japan). In other parts of the world - especially in "melting pot" countries like the US - ethnicity is more often defined based on superficial traits like skin color and hair color.

    One thing that I find especially interesting about the American concept of ethnicity is the Hispanic/Latino category. We are one of the only places in the world that even considers this to be an ethnic group. If you go anywhere in Latin America, people don't define themselves as Hispanic/Latino...they define themselves as white, black, Asian, Native American, or some combination of these...or by their nationality.
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    Re: Is American an Ethnicity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Blaylock View Post
    But what about President Obama? He's usually identified as “black”, but is he really? His father was a Negro, but his mother was a Caucasian. It would seem to me that this makes him as much “white” as “black”.
    It's incorrect to call him black. He really is multiracial/mixed. More specifically half-black

    But I don't think it would be the same to have the first mixed President.

  3. #13
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    Re: Is American an Ethnicity?

    “American” is a nationality. This nationality is composed of a people with various degrees (ascendant-nonexistent) of ethnic self-identity.

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    Re: Is American an Ethnicity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    One thing that I find especially interesting about the American concept of ethnicity is the Hispanic/Latino category. We are one of the only places in the world that even considers this to be an ethnic group. If you go anywhere in Latin America, people don't define themselves as Hispanic/Latino...they define themselves as white, black, Asian, Native American, or some combination of these...or by their nationality.
    They mostly define themselves by nationality. If US did the same, it would just create a big mess.

    However, what I find weird is that the category Hispanics include white and black people from Mexico.

  5. #15
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    Re: Is American an Ethnicity?

    If an Italian married couple migrated to brazil, which many have, two generations later a child is born he/she is brazilian by ethnicity as far as they are concerned and would never say italian....why would an American be any different.

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    Re: Is American an Ethnicity?

    Quote Originally Posted by lpast View Post
    If an Italian married couple migrated to brazil, which many have, two generations later a child is born he/she is brazilian by ethnicity as far as they are concerned and would never say italian....why would an American be any different.
    They are no such thing as Italian or Brazilian ethnicity. Ethnicity is a description on how you look, not what you call yourself. Ethnicity is used for statistical purposes.

    If a black person moves from Africa to Europe, will his children stop calling themselves black?

  7. #17
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    Re: Is American an Ethnicity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Camlon View Post
    They are no such thing as Italian or Brazilian ethnicity. Ethnicity is a description on how you look, not what you call yourself.
    That's the way it's traditionally defined in Anglophonic countries like yours and mine, but it's not necessarily how people everywhere in the world view ethnicity. There isn't one objectively correct way to define it, considering that how you look is just as arbitrary as where you were born.

    If a black person moves from Africa to Europe, will his children stop calling themselves black?
    No, they'd probably START calling themselves black, because that's how their adopted European culture would view them. I bet that most Africans don't even think of themselves as "black" - defining ethnicity by one's skin color is mostly a Eurasian concept. I would suggest that Africans would be far more likely to define themselves by their tribe or their nationality than by their skin color. In fact, Africa is the most heterogeneous place on earth, with far more diversity than the rest of the world combined.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 09-25-11 at 05:43 AM.
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    Re: Is American an Ethnicity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Camlon View Post
    They mostly define themselves by nationality. If US did the same, it would just create a big mess.
    What would be messy about all of us identifying ourselves as “American”?
    The five great lies of the Left Wrong:
    We can be Godless and free. • “Social justice” through forced redistribution of wealth. • Silencing religious opinions counts as “diversity”. • Freedom without moral and personal responsibility. • Civilization can survive the intentional undermining of the family.

  9. #19
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    Re: Is American an Ethnicity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Camlon View Post
    They are no such thing as Italian or Brazilian ethnicity. Ethnicity is a description on how you look, not what you call yourself. Ethnicity is used for statistical purposes.

    If a black person moves from Africa to Europe, will his children stop calling themselves black?
    I'm pretty sure "black" isn't an ethnicity. I'm also pretty sure that no one actually looks "black". I know a lot of people in varying degrees of brown, some reddish/brown, some tan, and a lot of peach. I know a whole lot who are red on their neck, brown on their arms and face, and just about the color of vanilla ice cream under their shirts (their wives are sometimes sorta orange), but I'm not sure I'd say they "look" ethnic to me. If an Indian, Pakistani, and Brazilian look the same, does that make them the same ethnicity?

    I think "redneck" should be an ethnicity. I think hip-hop may be, too (gang-bangers might be a subset). How about "Southerner" - I think most Southerners would choose that group over whatever European ancestry they might have. My favorite ethnic group would be the "posers". They'd be people who who share in common the tendancy to identify with groups with whom they have little in common in order to feel better about themselves.
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    Re: Is American an Ethnicity?

    Most of the terms we commonly recognize as "ethnicities" are just arbitrary classifications by Westerners based on superficial characteristics. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but that perception of ethnicity is by no means universal. If one were to truly define some ethnicities based on physical characteristics, I like Jared Diamond's two categories: Khoisan (Namibia/Zimbabwe)...and everyone else in the world.

    I would agree with those who say that culture is more important than physical traits in defining an ethnicity (although physical traits can sometimes shape culture). If a group of people thinks that they are one ethnicity, then they are.
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