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.
is a social construction that indicates identification with a
particular group which is often descended from common ancestors. ...
classification of a population that shares common characteristics, such
as religion, traditions, culture, language, and tribal or national
a basis for social categories that are
rooted in socially perceived differences in national origin, language,
cultural practices, language, cuisine and traditions used to
distinguish groups of persons—not biological or physical differences.
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.
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.
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.
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
Anthropology. 1. the
fact of belonging to an
ethnic group.2. ethnic traits in general.
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.
ethnic quality or affiliation resulting from racial or cultural ties;
"ethnicity has a strong influence on community status relations"
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
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnicity (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
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. As 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
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.