FEBRUARY 14th 2008
Since we are about to enter a decade of serious debate about multiculturalism, racialism, discrimination, anti-racialism, anti-discrimination it might be good to agree on a few words and their definitions. I am going to start with ETHNICITY. Here are some definitions. You will see that Ethnicity is frequently linked to race, but the the word itself is designed to be completely independent of race. This is not agreed clearly, however, by all of the sources below. Can a person change their ethnicity?  It would seem that in some definitions ethnicity includes the concept of behavioural history, and the past cannot be changed. Before entering into any discussion it would best to study all the following.

  • Ethnicity is a social construction that indicates identification with a particular group which is often descended from common ancestors. ...
  • The classification of a population that shares common characteristics, such as religion, traditions, culture, language, and tribal or national origin.
  • a basis for social categories that are rooted in socially perceived differences in national origin, language, and/or religion.
  • The cultural practices, language, cuisine and traditions used to distinguish groups of persons—not biological or physical differences.
  • The 2000 Census, in an effort to better reflect the country's growing diversity, gave respondents the option of self-selecting one or more race categories to indicate their racial identities. ...
  • The word is discussed in a special Page.
  • a set of characteristics which result in a distinctive culture, in which a group of people share. In the United States, ethnicity is a term that is somewhat flexible in meaning, but generally refers to a subset of the national culture in which people share one of more of the following ...
  • A person's identification or affiliation that results from racial or cultural ties.
  • Self-reported affiliation with a UC defined cultural or ethnic group.
  • Hispanic or Latino includes persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. Non-Hispanic + Hispanic will not equal the total number of events due to persons of unknown ethnicity.
  • Ethnicity and gender are important factors in CVD. For example, Aboriginal women experience higher death rates than the general Canadian female population for both ischemic heart disease and stroke (Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, 1999). ...
  • A race or a family’s national origin.
  • Student’s numerical age at the time of reporting (formula is Report Date minus Birthdate for the December reporting cycle).
  • Anthropology. 1. the fact of belonging to an ethnic group.2. ethnic traits in general.
  • 2 Ethnicity refers to social groups who share a cultural heritage with a common language, values, religion, customs and attitudes 4 . It is distinct from race, which is based on differences in outward appearance, such as skin colour.
  • Ethnic character, background, or affiliation.
  • Based on perceived common origins that people share a specific ancestry and culture that mark them as different from others.
  • an ethnic quality or affiliation resulting from racial or cultural ties; "ethnicity has a strong influence on community status relations"
  • The Federal government of the United States considers race and ethnicity to be two separate and distinct concepts, and has mandated that "in data collection and presentation, federal agencies are required to use a minimum of two ethnicities: “Hispanic or Latino” and “Not Hispanic or Latino ... (United States Census)

    Check this link before proceeding.

    FEBRUARY 15th 2008
    This morning, Women's Hour on BBC Radio 4  is dedicated to Multiculturalism, a dsicussion at the University of Huddersfield. Not having checked up in advance this took me by surprise. I should have recorded it, as my 'listen-again' software does not work properly - I can't skip around and can only play right through and don't have the time.

    But I did note two important points.

    First, that the term ETHNICITY was used frequently without agreeing on its meaning in any particular context.

    Second, a muslim lady whose current post is with the Anglican Church as a sort of liaison officer with other religions (I paraphrase) told us that in the UK the indigenous community were now what could be described as practising a form of 'diluted Chrisitanity' while she, a Muslim, was guided and controlled by her religion. A
    s a confident and committed Muslim was able to be tolerant and inclusive towards others.

    I think it is here that we have the root of an immense misunderstanding. Quentin Hailsham, a committed Christian, once said that if the Christian story in the New Testament was not true we should have had to invent it. By this he meant that it contained wisdom and truth which spoke directly to his perception of the human condition and how we should live our lives.

    I could say that in this respect I am a Hailshamite. However I believe the New testament is about more than morality The New Testament is the entirely authentic best efforts of its authors and later compilers and translators, and that makes it true by any definition that we know, it is also the truth as understood at the time these authors, translators and compilers worked. The understanding of what they relate is open, as time passes and our knowledge of our world develops and increases, to profound enhancements in interpretation. We can see with hindsight the essential truths on the one hand and on the other the insights and prophecies that would take centuries for us to fully appreciate as scientific knowledge reveals the meaning laid down for future generations, meanings, ways and means that could not possibly be understood 2,000 years ago.

    We are not 'diluted' Christians. We are 21st Century Christians as opposed to Mediaeval Christians, and understand both them and ourselves. They were for their time, we for ours. We believe the Bible was written by men, not some disembodied divinity. The commandements were developed and written by Moses. That Jesus was a man, and that is the vital message he left for us. That the confused clerics who wrestle with the paradox of an all-powerful divinity who has (apparently) created a universe full of pain are blind to their own religion. There are also scientists blind to their own science.

    We humans did not set the universe in motion. We can observe how it evolved. Insights into how to behave in our lives have come from many great thinkers who have studied their environment including Bhudda, Confucius, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and others, all of whom have been key contributors in their time and whose wisdom can be drawn on today. Anyone who studies their lives and works can appreciate also the great philosophers of recent centuries who have looked at the religions they have founded, the churches that have promulgated and reinterpreted their teachings to fit the passing eras. These philosophers have helped us to use reason to build a social structure without denying a simple faith for those who have better things to do than intellectualise. We can also accept the work of the great scientists who have built an edifice of physical, chemical, biological and mathematical consistency that for anyone not trapped in a literal and mediaevally limited perception brings meaning, not contradiction, to the simple faith of our ancestors.

    The phenomenon of globalisation, brought about by an explosive expansion in the ways, means, volume and speed of communication and travel, has removed the protection provided by the isolation which to some extent had allowed populations of completely different stages of social and philosophic and economic development, let us use the phrase different ETHNICITIES to live in different countries. Where this has broken down locally in the past it often led to war. It looks as though now, if we do not clarify our understanding, it could lead to global philosophic war. In such a war, individuals who believe their philosopy alone is of divine origin are likely to be unreasonable. This applies to all religions. Those with economic and organisational power may abuse that power, abusing the power of the law they impose. Those without lawful power may turn to violence.

    I have never been a disciple of Richard Dawkins. I have criticised him consistently. But I have to say that unless we now understand that all religions and ideas of God are created by humans we will not avoid decades of conflict with moments of extreme and unnecessary violence. This should not in any way diminish the respect due to any of the world's great religions, all of which are compatible in any understanding of the human condition worthy of the name. The use of these religions by some of those who pretend to lead, in the name of God, is another matter. That the least abusive religious leader of our times, the present Archbishop of Canterbury, has come in for so much criticism is not good news.