Race and Ethnicity

Essay by ruskipaul August 2005

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Race and Ethnicity

Race is a group of genetically related people who share certain physical characteristics or a distinct ethnical group characterized by traits that are transmitted through their children (Anderson, 2002). Ethnicity is a social construction that indicates identification with a particular group who share common cultural traits, such as language, religion and traditions (Becker, 2005). These definitions will be portrayed more thoroughly throughout the essay which will cover many points such as ethnocentrism, racism, stereotyping, how race and ethnicity can affect health status, White Australia Policy and what is meant to be Australian.

The term 'Australian' should not be used in ways which exclude indigenous or immigrant minorities. To be 'Australian' is to be an Australian citizen, irrespective of the person's ethnic or racial background or country or birth (Nation Master, 2005). This was not the case from the 1890s to the 1950s.

In the 1890s an official policy was introduced that excluded all non white people from Australia-this policy was referred to the 'White Australian Policy'. Although it was ended in the 1950s, some elements of this policy survived until the 1970s. This policy was never officially called the 'White Australian Policy', it actually was a term used in political and public debate throughout the period. This policy is an example of hidden discrimination between the whites and non whites (Nation Master 2005). For instance indigenous children were stolen from their parents to breed out a white population.

The stolen generation is the population who are half white and half black (halfe castes).

Although they were classified as 'stolen', McMurray (2004) portrayed that they were taken away for their own safety, to save them from abuse and to receive better education. In general terms, McMurray stated that they were taken for their own good (McMurray,