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Race & Ethnicity: Effects on Life Essay

Ethnicity and race has had a big influence on peoples’ every day life choices. In some way or another, most people will be judged according to their color of their skin or their ethnic background. We live in a society full of different races and cultures affecting the way we interact with each other, as well as influencing our views on equality and differences among the many different races in our society. Often influential media groups and social standards shape our beliefs, also affecting how we interact with cultures different from our own, and how various groups interact with each other. Race and ethnicity may be defined as a type of grouping or classification based on a persons origin of birth and includes their racial appearance, language, religion and culture. Ethnicity can be defined as a social construction that indicates identification with a particular group who share common cultural traits, such as language, religion and traditions.

Terms like ethnocentrism, racism, stereotyping, and ethnicity can affect our health status, our economical status, and just basically our status in society. Race defines who we are, and in some cases it is the root of discrimination problems. Individuals dislike other people because they do not like how they are; whether it is physically or the way they think and act. We look at people and experiences through race and culture. I was raised with family that had introverted personalities. This is one of the reasons why my personality is also like that. I grew up recognizing differences in races and ethnicity and it never affected my way of being, I simply saw everyone the same, with the same potential and equal opportunity. I have been taught by the spoken and unspoken ways of my parents, teachers, friends; I have simply grown up recognizing what is wrong and what is right among society.

I was born in California but both my parents are Mexican, which makes me Hispanic. My experiences of racial profiling or prejudice due to my ethnic background or my Hispanic look have not been too common or extremely racist. My high school was about 99.99 percent Hispanic student body, so there was very little if any racial tension among students. It was when we would go out of that part of town that I would actually see racial comments made and shown by others. I was involved in the baseball team and tennis team at my high school, and I would see some sort of labeling or stereotyping aimed at me and my teammates when we would play in other schools with Anglos or Blacks.

Since we were one of the poorest schools in the city they would automatically assume we weren’t adequately prepared to be playing a team like them. Their stereotypes of us would make them think that we didn’t speak English and our playing abilities would be very novice since we didn’t have the tools or money to afford good equipment or a coach at a young age. However, I will admit that we would also judge them as being too cocky, and with the conventional ‘white people’ stereotypes. Though most of the time we were right because these were rich kids with almost everything handed to them.

Being in the minority has its disadvantages, but people, specifically students can be smart and use those stereotypes to their advantage. I honestly never paid attention to my lack of resources, instead I knew that if I wanted something I was going to try and get it. A big misconception that surrounded our school or the part of town that I lived in was that we were not going to make it to college, in fact, we would be lucky if we actually graduated from high school. The name of our high school was very much and icon or a symbol. I knew some friends that wouldn’t give out the name of our school because they were afraid of being labeled a “loser” in some way. Basically, going to my school meant that we were low IQ destined to work at low paying jobs, simply because many were Mexican immigrants or first generation American born. For our advantage, now a day being in the minority can actually help you enroll into colleges of your choice and get scholarships to help pay for college.

Perceptions play a great roll on judging others; many times it is influenced by race and ethnicity. It is clear to me that if lived in a more diverse part of the city; my experiences would be the very different. As society grows more with different cultures, races and ethnics, tension grows and people start disliking others ways of being that are not like theirs. But it is important to understand that it is not healthy to have prejudice feelings towards others, it only makes one bitter.


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