Race is an idea that human beings can be divided into groups based on a variety of physical characteristics. These categories have often influenced how people think and act in society, and they are often used to create racial inequalities, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (opens in new tab).
The idea of a biological race is no longer considered valid by most biologists, and anthropologists generally now use terms such as ethnicity or cultural group instead of referring to specific human populations. Genetic evidence indicates that most of the variation among populations can be attributed to within-population differences, rather than physical traits.
In the United States, most people self-identify as white or another one of several racial groups, and most people report that their ancestry is white or some other race. For example, about a third of Americans say that their ancestry is white or Asian, while a fifth say it is African American or another racial group.
A number of studies have found that a majority of people of different racial groups report that their ancestry has helped them get ahead in life, while a minority says it has hurt them. In fact, whites are especially likely to say that their ancestry has helped them, with about a quarter of Hispanics and Asians saying the same thing.
Those who identify as more than one race tend to be higher-income, better educated and better-healthy than those who self-identify as one or the other. Those who self-identify as more than one race are also more likely to report that they have access to the same types of resources, such as housing and health care, as people with other racial backgrounds.
However, even though more and more people are self-identifying as multiple races, there is still a lot of underlying social prejudice that affects how people see themselves. For example, the black race in the United States has relatively rigid boundaries and most African American people largely accept this system of racial classification.
The concept of race has a long and often unsavory history, which has played a part in creating and sustaining economic inequalities in many countries around the world. As a result, it has sparked discrimination against people of color. This discrimination has shaped many aspects of society and has had significant consequences for economic well-being, including a high rate of unemployment and a wide range of social ills.
Racism is a global problem and, if properly addressed, can help make societies more productive and inclusive. It has also been linked to many negative outcomes, such as poor health and less education for people of color, according to the Southern Poverty Law Centre (opens in new tab).
In recent years, a growing body of scientific research suggests that the concept of a biological race is no longer valid. For instance, a study by Rosenberg and colleagues (2002) reported that most of the difference in genes among people from geographically similar populations is within-population variation.