History, which is full of violence and division among people, has shown that race and ethnicity are notions that imply and result in meaningless conflict. Although considered important and valuable, both concepts only fueled war, segregation, and genocide. It is crucial to embrace individuality and the past, including the harsh and unjust actions of some people to others. However, differences, whether biological or cultural, must not separate communities.
Addressing this problem has become as crucial as never before, especially considering the latest events in the US, Middle East, and Hong-Kong. This issue was evident centuries ago when millions of Native Americans were killed by European colonizers while African Americans endured terrible maltreatment, and it continues to this day, as individuals tend to judge people only by their race and ethnicity, discriminating minorities and immigrants (Barkan, 2017). Although many believe in the concept of race as biological, referring to the easily identifiable differences in skin color, facial features, and other physical characteristics, this notion, along with ethnicity, is a social construction (Barkan, 2017). Both race and ethnicity emphasize distinctions in the wrong way, leading to unethical and unjust assumptions and treatment.
Distinctions among people play no role unless they are interpreted wrongfully. For instance, Barkan (2017) writes that “history and current practice indicate that it is easy to become prejudiced against people with different ethnicities from our own” (p. 94). Similar to colonizers, slave-owners, Nazis, and others who saw minorities as “less than human”, people construct prejudices based on race and ethnicity (Brown, 1975, as cited in Barkan, 2017, p. 87). While in fact, there are more differences within one group than between many others (Barkan, 2017). Both concepts were used and formed to separate people and promote violence. Therefore, the modern world has to learn to embrace race and ethnicity without conflict and stigma.
Barkan, S. E. (2017). Social problems: Continuity and change. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.