What’s the difference between race and ethnicity?

Race and ethnicity are terms that are sometimes used sloppily, almost interchangeably. But race and ethnicity are not the same thing.

Both terms are used to describe human identity, but in different – if related – ways. Identity might bring to mind questions of skin color, nationality, language, religion, cultural traditions or family ancestry. Both race and ethnicity encompass many of these descriptors. “‘Race’ and ‘ethnicity’ have been and continue to be used as ways to describe human diversity,” said Nina Jablonski, an anthropologist and paleobiologist at The Pennsylvania State University, who is known for her research into the evolution of human skin color. “Race is understood by most people as a mixture of physical, behavioral and cultural attributes. Ethnicity recognizes differences between people mostly on the basis of language and shared culture.” 

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