I recommend that you print this assignment before attempting to complete it.
Write a numbered "answer sheet" for the following questions. When complete, upload your answers to the dropbox by the due date assigned. Make sure to include your name on your work!!
Race and ethnicity internet exercise
This Race and ethnicity internet exercise is designed to introduce you to relevant resources on the internet and to use this tool to supplement and extend what you have learned in class. Although the websites have been carefully selected, please keep in mind that it is always important to evaluate critically all web resources [http://www.mlb.ilstu.edu/ressubj/subject/intrnt/evaluate.htm]. You are encouraged to bookmark and explore the sites used for this exercise further on your own.
This exercise is constructed so that each time you click on one of its links, a new window will open. This way you can use your toolbar to switch back and forth between the exercise instructions and the website you are exploring. You must submit an answer page for all of the questions for consideration of credit. You will probably want to print out these instructions and copy the answers by hand as you go along, so that you don't run the risk of losing your work part-way through if you accidentally close the wrong window or if your computer freezes up. Just friendly advice :) .
Introduction Race and ethnicity are two of the most potent forces shaping social life and human interrelationships in the world today. Yet the starting point for understanding them has to be that they have no objective or scientific basis. As the American Anthropological Association has stated: "Race has no scientific justification in human biology. There is as much genetic variability between two people from the same racial group as there are between two people from any two different racial groups." Ethnicity too has no objective basis apart from the perceptions of difference that people share.
However, as W.l. Thomas observed long ago, if people define a situation as real, then it will real in its consequences. Race and ethnicity are matters of social definition, and the consequences are often very profound. As globalization and new forms of communication bring more and more groups into contact with each other, this is more true than ever.
It is a paradox that while race is a central reality in the U.S., it is in a fundamental sense an "illusion." Contrary to much popular belief, racial groups are social constructions without any biological or scientific basis. Yet beliefs about race lead people to classify and label people in certain ways, and this in turn affects their identities and behavior.
The PBS website, Race: The Power of an Illusion [http://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm] captures this idea nicely in its title and provides a wealth of information to explore it. Let us look at this website in some detail.
Start by clicking on Learn More on the image of the hand, which asks the question, "How valid are your beliefs about the human species?" The screen you will go to asks the questions, "What is Race? Is Race for Real?" Click on the ten numbered buttons to review ten important facts about race, and then answer the following question:
Race is a universal idea that has been around as long as human societies have.
Race has often been used to justify social inequality as "natural" and therefore inevitable.
There are no such things as human subspecies.
Randomly chosen individuals from any given "racial" group are as likely to be genetically similar to randomly chosen individuals from other racial groups as to individuals from their own group.
While still on the Learn More link from the home page of Race, click on Sorting People, then Begin Sorting. With your mouse, drag the faces to what you think is the appropriate classification. Then click on Next.
2. How many of your choices agreed with the U.S. Census Bureau's way of classifying people in racial and ethnic groups?
3. What do you think the point of this exercise is supposed to be?
Close the Sorting People window and click on Human Diversity (the Race Timeline is worth exploring on your own sometime). Click on Take the Quiz and work your way through the ten questions. You may have to guess about some, but the key thing is to learn from the responses provided to your answers, which are accessed by first clicking on the letter and then on Answer. On this basis, answer the following questions:
4. Which of the following statements is FALSE?
The human species is only about 170,000 years old and fanned out from Africa only about 70,000 years ago--very recently in evolutionary time.
There is no agreement among scientists about how differences in skin color evolved.
Because humans have existed there the longest, Africa is the continent with the greatest genetic diversity.
Skin color is a good predictor of other physical traits and things like athletic ability.
Close the Quiz window and click on Where Race Lives. Work your way through the two sections, Uncle Sam Lends a Hand and A Tale of Two Families. Answer the following questions:
5. How did federal housing policies in the twentieth century benefit whites so much more than blacks? Explain briefly in the textbox below, giving an example discussed at the website.
7. What is the ratio of average white family wealth to average black family wealth -- even when controlling for income?
Close the Race: The Power of an Illusion windows and return to the Race and ethnicity internet exercise.
It might seem that the sociological thesis that race is an illusion--that is, an arbitrary social construct--would suggest that the government should stop collecting data on the basis of race. Why collect data about something that is an illusion? In fact, however, the American Sociological Association and most other professional organizations in the social sciences believe that it is still important to collect information about race. Read the ASA's press release on "ASA Issues Official Statement on Importance of Collecting Data on Race" [http://www.asanet.org/footnotes/septoct02/indextwo.html] and answer the following question. (Note -- you can also access this information by going to http://www.asanet.org and typing "race data statement" into the search box and then selecting the "asa race statement pdf " version of this document,)
8. What is the basic argument that the American Sociological Association puts forward about why it is important to continue collecting data based on racial classification, even though race is not a biological reality but a social construct?
Close the ASA window and return to the Race and Ethnicity internet exercise.
Reflecting the socially-constructed nature of race, the Census Bureau [http://www.census.gov/] has changed its racial classifications greatly over the years. In the 2000 census, a record number of “racial” categories were provided, and for the first time, respondents were free to choose as many racial categories to describe themselves as they liked. However, the Census Bureau rejected proposals to allow people simply to call themselves “multiracial.”
At the Census site, start by clicking on American Factfinder . This will give you Race and Hispanic or Latino Origin: 2010 for the United States as a whole.
Survey the data to answer the following questions:
9. What percentage of the population chose to identify themselves with one racial category only?
10. What percentage of the population chose to identify themselves with more than one racial category?
11. How many people chose to identify themselves with more than one racial category?
12. What percentage of the population identified themselves as Black or African American?
13. What percentage of the population identified themselves as Hispanic?
14. The New York Times put together an interesting interactive map that examines the racial/ethnic composition of each Census track in America. Click on the site Mapping America: Every City, Every Block and type in your zipcode in the "address, zip code, or city" box and then click "Go." Roll the mouse over your neighborhood and you will see Census data for your own neighborhood Census track. Next, compare your zip code to that of Sacramento City College's (95822). Compared to the proportions for the U.S. as a whole (see your answers to questions 9 - 13 of this assignment), and to that of City College, would you say your zipcode neighborhood is about typical of the nation or the college, more multiracial, or more racially segregated? Discuss and explain your answer below.
Now go to Census Briefs/Special Reports [http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-04.pdf]. The Hispanic Population will open up a report in pdf format. Scroll down to Figure 2 (page 5) to answer the following questions.
15. What percentage of the Hispanic population reports Mexican origins?
16. Scroll down to the map on page 10. What area of the country has the largest concentrations of Hispanics?
Next, click on http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/c2kbr01-16.pdfThe Asian Population and scroll down to Table 1 (page 4).
18. What percentage of people reported that they were Asian or part-Asian in the 2010 census?
19. Scroll down to Table 5 (page 14). What were the most-commonly reported four countries of origin? List according to size, starting with the largest. NOTE -- the list of countries is alphabetical -- it is not listed by population size!!
20. Now click on The Arab Population. Scroll down to Table 1 (page 3). What was the total Arab population in the U.S. in 2000??
Scroll back up to page 2 of The Arab Population document.
21. What three countries did the majority of Arabs identify as their country of origin?
22. Write a brief summary of what you learned in doing this internet exploration assignment. What was new information?? What stood out to you?? How do you think race affects your life?? Your summary should be a minimum of 1/2 page (font size 12, double spaced, standard margins), spell checked and proof read for completeness and clarity!! Not including this information will result in a loss of 2 points!!
Although race has been discredited as a scientific concept, it remains an important popular belief throughout much of the world, and as such, an important subject of sociological study. In this Virtual Exploration we have explored how systems of racial classification have changed over time, how they become embodied in institutional practices, and how they remain points of contention. We have examined some of the social and cultural correlates of race and ethnicity in the U.S., along with the changing composition of the U.S. population.