race / racial groupsLast updated
Race is a socially constructed category that roughly groups people based on, in part, physical traits/phenotype. It has significant material, social, and cultural implications in the United States and globally. Its contours and definitions have shifted and continue to shift, and can be region-, context-, and era-specific. Everyone has a racial identity or identities. Both race and outward assumptions about one’s race can influence everything from how one moves through the workplace to education to the legal system.
Though race and ethnicity are related concepts and can overlap, they are not interchangeable. In the most basic sense, race is mainly defined by physical characteristics, while ethnicity is more typically defined by cultural markers such as languages, family origins, beliefs, and customs.
But race cannot be assumed based on physical characteristics such as skin color and hair texture; or cultural signifiers including names, diction, vernacular, interests, or religious affiliation.
If and when race is pertinent to coverage, it’s important that an individual’s racial identity/identities are represented accurately, by researching or paying attention to how they’ve self-identified or simply asking. If you’ve determined that racial identifiers are relevant to coverage, including these identifiers equally avoids giving the impression that one group is the “norm” or “default.”
- The Meaning of Race and Ethnicity (University of Minnesota Libraries)
- The 1619 Project (New York Times Magazine)
- Racial and Ethnic Identity (APA Style)
- Diversity/Inclusivity Style Guide (California State University)
- Historical Foundations of Race (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
- Measuring Race and Ethnicity Across the Decades: 1790 – 2010 (US Census Bureau)
- Race & Ethnicity (Gendered Innovations)
- NAU Diversity Writing Style Guide (Northern Arizona University)
- Race Reporting Guide (Race Forward)
- The changing categories the U.S. census has used to measure race (Pew Research Center)