People are different, but how society deals with these differences is what defines prejudice and discrimination. The social context of prejudice and discrimination because of race or ethnic background is common throughout the world. It includes beliefs about racial purity or superiority; ethnocentric views; stereotyping and labeling; physical and social segregation; economic competition and exploitation in a split labor market. .
In the United States today, discrimination, which means acting unfavorably toward someone based on the group to which that person belongs rather than on the person's own merits , has led to stereotyping and severe cases of racial profiling largely targeted towards minority groups .
II. Definition of Race and Ethnicity.
A. Race .
Race is a biological term, which refers to inherited physical characteristics that distinguish one individual or group from another. Anthropological arbitrary definition of race recognizes three major racial divisions among human beings: Caucasian (basically all whites); Mongolian (basically all Asian or yellow skinned people); and Negroid (those with dark skin, but from Africa). Racism still persists in the U.S. despite a civil rights movement of more than 50 years duration and major social change.
The myth of race, however, remains a powerful force in social life. From their basic ethnocentrism, some people are inclined to think that their race is superior to others". Based upon these social definitions, people whose races are considered inferior are denied access to some important resources of the community, which may affect their success and behavior. The end result is discrimination based on physical characteristics.
B. Ethnicity .
Ethnicity means having distinctive cultural characteristics. It refers to people who identify with one another on the basis of common ancestry and cultural heritage. Their sense of belonging may center on nation of origin; distinctive foods; dress; family names and relationships; language; music; religion and other customs.