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Difference Between Ethnicity and Race

tibetansEthnicity vs Race

Very few of us accurately describe the difference between ethnicity and race, simply because we tend to lump them into the same definition. While the dictionary can represent each of these words to be highly similar, there are differences.

Ethnicity is not just a person’s race. We can say that a Caucasian is white, but that doesn’t describe his ethnicity. If we lined up a Caucasian from Ireland, Israel and Canada in a photograph, it would be difficult to discern from which country each person originates. Yet, if we gave them appropriate items from their culture, it becomes easier to determine their country of origin. Ethnicity is about tradition, learned behavior and customs. It is about learning where you come from, and celebrating the traditions and ideas that are part of that region.

At one time it was easy to tell one’s ethnicity, but as the global conglomeration offered more choice and change (as well as borrowing styles and ideas from other cultures), it has become impossible to identify ethnicity based solely on distinctive features.

Ethnicity gives us room to change because we can reject our own and embrace another. You can move from one region to another and assimilate your beliefs, actions and customs to identify with that ethnic orientation. You cannot do the same with race.

Race is your biologically engineered features. It can include skin color, skin tone, eye and hair color, as well as a tendency toward developing certain diseases. It is not something that can be changed or disguised. Race does not have customs or globally learned behavior. Going back to our three Caucasians, each could be cloned and placed in different cultures throughout the world that were primarily not Caucasian. While their behavior would change, their physical and biological features would not.

Race can be used to describe other elements of biological and regional differences. For instance, you can be born Jewish (which is usually referred to as a religion), but it does not mean that you have embraced the Jewish customs or religious beliefs. In such cases, the same term can be used to describe either ethnicity or race.

Ethnicity does not always describe color either. One can claim to be African, which indicates an entire multi-regional, multi-cultural continent. You can enhance the definition by assigning a sub culture to the ethnicity, such as South African, or Ethiopian. There can be a wide range of skin colors and tones throughout Africa, ranging from the white skin and fair haired faces many associate with the Aryan race to the dark skin, black haired faces that many associate with African regions.


1. Ethnicity is about the learned cultural behaviors celebrated throughout regions around the world.

2. Race is an indication of the heritage with which you were born, regardless of location or learned behavior.

3. Ethnicity can be altered or mimicked through choice and beliefs.

4. Race cannot be altered.

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  1. The teaches that God made plant and animal life according to their kinds( Genesis 1: 11,12, 21, 24, 25). The Bible does not define the boundaries of these “kinds.” This allows for a degree of variation within each kind. Same goes for the human race.

  2. Jews are not Caucasian.

    • then what are they? did you know north africans are considered Caucasian? it has less to do with looks and more to do with how people in power define races.

      • Jans, I think what Jim is saying is that Jews are more tied to Arabs or anybody non European origin. Most people who have a hatred towards Jews (not saying Jim hates Jews), will say that they that they have no “pure” European bloodlines. Which is a laugh because the likes,of Ghengis Khan and the Ottoman empire already helped in screwing up some of that “pure European race”.

        • I am not in the fight mode, but Mekk could you please explain to me the connection to your statement above, which I have quoted below while attempting to explain to Jans, Jim’s statement.

          “Most people who have a hatred towards Jews (not saying Jim hates
          Jews), will say that they that they have no “pure” European bloodlines.


          • Rafael, there are many people of Jewish heritage who have strong European heritage and they are considered white no doubt. Originally or biblically before they became mixed with other races they were middle eastern with no ties to Europe, I don’t even think Europe was ever in the picture during Abraham or Moses’s time as Africa or the rest of the middle east. You probably knew this. So, if I am correct Jim’s using that as his reasoning, that they did not come from that typical viking “blue eyed blonde haired” original European heritage. Which again I find laughable, because there are people in Iceland like Bjork, and in Denmark like Mads Mikkelson, who very much appear to have strong Asian ties, so Europe was never really made up of one pure race in my opinion.

    • Judaism is a religion, just as Christian is a religion. So to be Jewish is not a race or an ethnicity. That would be like calling my ethnicity Christian. NO. Get a clue people…..People from Israel or considered Israeli.

  3. What word other than “Jewish” can refer to both a religion and an ethnicity? I can’t think of one. Anyone?

  4. @Blessyn Variation does not account for either extinction or novel modern creation of either plants or animals, but earthly experience does. Variation, as well as, extinction and creation, among plants and animals, is a gene encoded response [DNA and RNA] to environmentally encountered clues (experience).


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