Research Paper On Perspectives Of Race And Ethnicity – India And America
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Race and ethnicity are important aspects of an individual’s personality. These two aspects along with other demographic data such as age, physical features, and gender describe an individual. From a psychological perspective, it is important to understand the racial and ethnic background of an individual. This is because race and ethnicity impact the physical and mental well being of an individual. According to a report published by the Department of Health and Human Service, mental disorders like schizophrenia, depression, and panic can affect all individuals irrespective of their race or ethnic identity. However many minorities do not have access to mental health services. Where access is available, the service is poor or negligent. There also exist certain barriers which prevent these minorities from seeking help for mental conditions and disorders. Identifying the discrepancies and discriminations in providing mental health services to minorities and understanding the barriers that prevent them from seeking intervention can go a long way in improving the life of the individuals who belong to minority communities and suffer from mental disorders. In order to understand the problems faced by the minorities with respect to seeking intervention and access to services, it is important to understand the concept of racism and ethnicity as perceived by these minorities.
With this objective in mind, we propose to investigate the concept of racism and ethnicity in one country and compare it with similar concepts in the United States. The country chosen for study is India since it is one of the oldest cultures of civilization and one of the most complex cultures. In the following paragraphs, we present an insight into the proposed study of racism and ethnicity in India and America.
Ethnicity India and America
Racial difference may be described as difference in background, culture, and upbringing. In medical terms, it means a difference in the genetics of two individuals. The sociological aspect of race is somewhat different. Sociologists analyze differences in people coming from different nations, cultures and ethnicities. In this paper, we examine the racial differences present in two countries – India and America. We begin with describing the culture and ethnicities in the two countries and conclude with a discussion on how ethnicity is perceived by the people belonging to these two countries. One point that must be clarified here is the difference between race and ethnicity.
As described by Diego et. al. (2010), race includes various descriptions of a group of people. Race is not considered a scientific term. Ethnicity on the other hand is a concept that creates the identity of an individual by describing his religion, language, geographic language, and physical appearance (Diego et. al. (2010). With this background, we now proceed with a description of the Indian culture with particular emphasis on ethnicity, followed by a similar description of American culture.
It has been scientifically proved that India is one of the oldest civilizations. It was one of the first countries to which the early humans of Africa migrated (Cann 2001 in Majumder, 2001). As such India is second only to Africa in ethnic diversity (Majumder, 1998 in Majumder, 2001). The contemporary population of India largely belongs to the Hindu religion. This religion is divided into four main castes which according to hierarchy are Brahmin (priests), Kshatriya (warriors), Vysya (businesspersons) and Shudra (menial labourers). Apart from the predominant Hindu religion there exist other religions in India. Chief among these are Christianity, Islam, and Sikh. Other religious groups include Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis.
Genetically, the Indian population is divvied into two predominant groups, the ANI or Ancestral North Indians and the ASI or Ancestral South Indians. The ANIs are residents of North India, originally from the Aryan tribes while the ASI belong to the Dravidian tribe and reside in South India (Moorjani et.al, 2013). These two distinct groups began mingling around 2100 BC. Around 100 A.D. there began a practice of endogamy. This practice put an end to the mixing between these groups making them even more distinct (Moorjani et.al, 2013). Within these two groups, there exists the caste system as described above as well as a myriad of sub-castes and language groups. Language groups are broadly classified into Aryan language group, Dravidian language group the Austro-Asiatic language group and the Tibeto-Burman language group, and the Great Anamneses group. Within these groups, there exist many subgroups (Moseley, 2008).
During the British rule Indians were classified into two groups the marital group – those who were martially inclined - and the non-marital group – those who were not martially inclined (Rand, n.d.). Contemporary theory of classification however divides the Indian population into three main races viz. Caucasoid, Mongoloids and Negritos. These groups overlap because of the process of racial mixing (Nature, 2013).
Thus, we see that the racial and ethnical stratification within the Indian Culture is diverse as well as complex.
Ethnicity in America
The United States census authorities recognize four ethnic and racial groups. These include Whites, Native Americans including Alaska Natives, Asians, Afro-Americans, and Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islanders. There is also a category dubbed “Some other Race” which includes a few minority groups (OMB, 2008). Another classification of the American population by the US, Census Bureau is Hispanic & Latinos and non-Hispanic & Latino. Within the Hispanic & Latino group, which comprises the largest minority group in America, there exists a diverse ethnicity (Grieco, 2008). The Whites are the predominant ethnic group in the United States (US Census Bureau, 2010).
According to a report presented in the Race in America conference, racial differences in America is a perspective of Americans towards individuals rather than a categorization of the American population itself. This is evident in the history of racism in America. In the 18th century, Americans recognized only three groups or races – the whites, the slaves, and the others. As more and more people migrated to the United States, and information about their place of birth became available, more groups became recognized as races (Davis and Bangs, 2010).
Thus we see that the American racism is linear rather than hierarchical.
Discussion / Conclusion
The terms racisms and ethnicity have been variously described as differences in culture, background and upbringing. According to Diego et.al. (2010), there is a clear differentiation between race in ethnicity. In this paper, we compare the racial and ethnic differences in two countries viz. India and America in an effort to understand the concepts of race and ethnicity. Our research shows that although the racial and ethnic differences in both countries are diverse they differ in nature and complexity.
While the ethnic and racial differences in India have their roots in the caste system and the tribal system, American racism stems from a geographical perspective and is based on the color of the skin and place of origin of the individual. This is evident from the fact that since the 18th century when only three races existed, there exist close to six races in contemporary America. Conversely, in the Indian caste system, the racial barriers, though blurred by time, still exist as they did in the past. That is to say, the basic structure of discrimination remains the same.
The racial discrimination in India is far more complex than that in America, since there are numerous subgroups based on language, tribal affiliation, and geographical location within the basic hierarchy of castes. In America on the other hand, although racial differences do exist, they do so because of a difference in origin rather than birth. This brings us to the next point of difference between American and Indian racism and ethnic discrimination.
The Americans classify an individual based on his place of birth whereas the Indians classify individuals based on the family to which he belongs. One may say therefore that racism in America is geographic as against racism in India which is genetic.
One may conclude from the above discussion that from a sociological perspective, racism and ethnic differences do exist in both India and America (the two countries selected for this study). However, they differ greatly in nature and complexity.
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