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race and ethnicity (historically)

- Concepts used to describe similarities and differences within and between groups
- Ethnicity (ethnos) first appeared in works of antiquity to describe people belonging to a common ancestry
- Race first appeared in writings associated with voyages of European "discovery" to describe groups with different roots in different areas



- The categorization of human populations into different groups based on physical characteristics
- A historically specific process; terms carry different meanings across time and space


categorization (historically)

- Started with biological/physiological classification (ie. Skull size)
- Became popular during the 18th and 19th century when anthropologists started to describe and compare groups in different places
- Many imposed a hierarchy from the most primitive to the most civilized; assumptions were grounded on ideas surrounding evolution


POV of enlightenment thinkers concerning race

- Locke – Negroes lack rationality
- Leibniz – Native Americans were uncivilized
- Hume – Non-whites were inferior
- Kant – Chinese rank lowest among Orientals
- Voltaire – Whites were superior than negroes
- Early writings were written from an Euro-centric point of view


racism as a scientific doctrine

- Developed a racial hierarchy based on physiological differences
- Races could be arranged along a continuum of superiority and inferiority
- Racism became a scientific doctrine
"permanently different" = "naturally different" = "unchangeable"
- If they are indeed inferior, this can justify social control and domination


motivation for racial hierarchy

- capitalist expansion
- political agendas


capitalist expansion

- Begins as a labour problem -> we want free labour, and racially-based slavery allowed this to happen
- Associated with trade, colonization, and search for production sites and cheap labour
- Hierarchy justifies exploitation
- Some regard a strategy developed to divide the working stress and disrupt unity


political agendas

- Race is a widely accepted ideological concept used to legitimate dominance and therefore justifies unfair treatment and inequality
- Examples:
-- 1800s– 1900s segregation of Blacks
-- 1700s– 1800s assimilation of Aboriginals
-- 1930s– 1940s persecution of Jews
-- Post 2001 (9/11) - Islamophobia


consequences of racialization

- we live in a racialized world, in which race (physical differences) contributes meaning in the way we think, feel, and choose
-- Ex. Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, James Bond
- People of colour are degraded, and white people are elevated (white privilege)



- refers to a hierarchy based on skin colour and other bodily features considered to be racial signifiers
- understands how society is ordered to privilege or discriminate against individuals of various phenotypes within a group
- In a pigmentocracy, one's life chances are linked to one's appearance and to one's ancestry and heritage (ex. People with lighter skin are more likely to have higher education)
- underlines the preference for whiteness and disdain for darkness, not just in western societies but other’s as well


facts about colour and ability

- humans share 99.9% of genetic material, the 0.1% differences accounts for physical differences
- skin, hair, and eye color can be attributed to a nucleotide difference in the SLC2485 gene
- Skin colour is not binary, but varies on a continuum
- genes that are responsible for physical differences (i.e. skin colour) do not necessary produce differences in mental capabilities
- abilities (physical & mental) can largely shaped by the environment (socialization)


UNESCO and race

After WWII, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization declared race as a myth rather than a biological phenomenon



- Describes biological traits
- Based on physical characteristics
- Ex. Blacks vs. Whites



- Describes behavioural traits
- Based on cultural characteristics
- Ex. French vs. Russian


chartered groups vs. visible minorities in Canada

- Chartered groups – groups with official power (i.e. English, French)
- Visible minorities – groups with no official power; people who are not white/Caucasian and are not aboriginal (i.e. Chinese, East Indian, Korean)


Racism in Canada today

- We still live in a racial hierarchy -> visible minorities on average feel more discriminated against (30%) than non-visible minorities (10%)
- Children who are part of visible minorities perceive discrimination -> 20% of Filipino children, 15% of Chinese children, and 5% of children from Hong Kong feel socially isolated



unreliable generalization about members of a group (can be positive or negative)



negative attitude towards a group (having negative stereotypes without experience)



negative behaviours towards a group i.e. denial of opportunity or unequal treatment



being prejudicial and discriminatory against people because of their biologically different race (subtle vs. overt, personal vs. institutional)


internalized racism

- refers to a form of self-loathing based on the cognitive and emotional acceptance by individuals of an oppressed group of all or some aspects of the negative stereotypes about them
- this occurs when socially subordinated groups come to see and negatively judge themselves by the standards and criticisms of more powerful social classes at the top of the social ladder
- Examples can include not being proud of their own culture, apologizing for their accents, refraining from enjoying their cultural heritage


institutional racism

- racist ideas are that integrated into policies, programs, and laws -> systematically reproduce racism
1) Explicit and intentional – head tax
2) Implicit (can be unintentional)


democratic racism

- An ideology that allows egalitarian values and racist attitudes to coexist
- Largely intentional, but produces an opposite effect
- An ideology which two conflicting sets of values are made congruent to each other. Commitments to democratic principles such as justice, equalit, and fairness conflict but coexist with attitudes and behaviours that include negative feelings about minority groups, differential treatment, and discrimination against them
- Discourses surrounding: colour blindness, equal opportunities, blaming the victim


Canada as a settler society

Canada is a society historically based on colonization through foreign settlement and displacement of aboriginal inhabitants, so immigration is the major influence on population diversity


minority groups

- slightly different than visible minorities
- groups that lack power in society regardless of skin color or country of origin
- being a numerical minority is not a characteristic of being a minority group; sometimes larger groups can be considered minority groups due to their lack of power
- ex. the elderly


5 distinguishing characteristics of a minority group

1. unequal treatment and less power over their lives
2. distinguishing physical or cultural traits like skin colour or language
3. involuntary membership in the group
4. awareness of subordination
5. high rate of in-group marriage


scapegoat theory

- developed from frustration-aggression theory
- suggests that the dominant group will displace their unfocused aggression onto a subordinate group


racial steering

- subtle racism
- when real estate agents direct prospective homeowners toward or away from certain neighbourhoods based on their race


white privilege

dominant groups often accept their experience as the normative (and hence, superior) experience.


internal colonialism

- process of uneven regional development due to dominant group establishing control over existing populations
- maintains segregation among the colonized -> different geographic distributions of people, different wage levels, different occupations all based on race/ethnicity