The Difference Between Us: Pre-viewing activity

Before we view the first of three parts of the film “Race: The Power of an Illusion”, you will participate in a pre-viewing activity for each episode described below.

YOUR TASK:  Answer ONE of the four questions listed below using the comments section featured below.

> How would you define race? What does it mean to you?

> How many races do you think there are? What are they? How do you decide which race someone belongs to?

> Look around the room or around your community. Who do you think is likely to be most similar to you, biologically or genetically? Why?

> Where do your ideas about race come from? What are the sources of your information?

31 thoughts on “The Difference Between Us: Pre-viewing activity

  1. So many interesting questions, hard to choose which to answer. Initially my ideas about race came from my family. I am happy to say they were colorblind. My parents never uttered one word negative about another race, we were all just people. I grew up in an all white neighborhood on Long Island. My elementary school and high school were made up predominantly of Jews and Italians. Any Hispanics were perhaps identified by last name only, no accent, no language barriers, now that I look back. I specifically remember when an the first black family moved into the neighborhood, and they were the only black kids in the high school. It was more of a novelty, it was cool. In my eyes we all blended in together. When I moved to Florida, I had a different experience. I took my young son to a new playground in an area I was not so familiar with. There, a child perhaps 8 years old called me a “cracker”. I had no idea what that was really except from his tone. Such hate that he had learned from family. My son later was accepted to a magnet school of math and science in Riviera Beach, which at the time was known as an iffy, high crime neighborhood. It was a brand new program there, and neighborhood kids were grandfathered in. A portion were accepted from an application process and lottery. My son was the token white boy, who traveled by bus to another school district. After school, I went to pick up my son, and gave his name in the office. No one checked my ID, no one asked me to sign him out. No way to verify who they were releasing him to, except by the color of my skin. White child, white adult. It took me aback. In Lake Worth, there was a large community of people from Guadeloupe, many illegal immigrants. The men were picked up by truck and hauled off to the groves to work. At night, many were seen drunk. I worked at a nearby hospital. I saw them come from time to time,been beaten and robbed for the money they carried in their pockets because they could not have bank accounts, they were illegal. When I returned to NYC after 17 years of being in Florida, I saw those same distinct faces working around in restaurants, cafes, having many types of jobs. They spoke English as clear as you and I. This was a wow moment. As my brother said to me when I expressed my observation to him, “here they are upwardly mobile”. Same race, different place. I learned it makes a large difference where someone lives, how they are treated, and what kind of opportunity they will have there.

    • Thanks Karil-
      You certainly expressed a lot here in your response. After completing this course I feel that your understanding of these unique experiences will be richer and more deep. You’ve left a lot be considered. I think at the heart of it you raise an important idea: environment! Where a person is located, geographically, is essential to understanding that person’s behaviors. Have you ever asked why that is? When we feel uncomfortable in new neighborhoods, I like to think why that is. What are some of the demarcations of a “bad” neighborhood? How did that come to be? Is the behavior of individuals or groups? Is the appearance of a neighborhood due to the individuals who inhabit the area or those who represent that area in local government? Those are two very difference groups of people. Think of issues of power and privilege– do we not pay more to live in areas that are not visibly problematic? What I like to keep in mind when thinking back on experiences I’ve had, especially decision I’ve made, is “how much of this decision is really mine to be made?” A lot of decisions are made for us and we can easily miss this part of the experience. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts. One last comment would be on color-blindness- while it sounds like a solution, it can lead to a host of problematic thinking and behaviors. We will talk about this a ton in class this semester. Color-blindness in an HD, Technicolor world results in a lot being missed. It’s ok to see color and acknowledge differences in power– it’s how you respond to what you see behaviorally that matters.

  2. Venice Golding

    How would you define race? What does it mean to you?
    I would define race as means to categorize people by the color of their skin, their, background or lifestyle. It is not always easy to look at someone and be able to tell what race they belong to.. Race is also what a person chooses to identify as.

    Race for me means that though I am categorize within a certain racial group (Black) I am not limited though it is a minority group. I can achieve my goals and succeed in life just as anyone else.

    • Thanks Venice-
      You raised important aspects: first that categorizing people based on appearance is not east. Then you were sure to include that it has to do with a person’s decision to identify themselves as a particular race. Also, and perhaps more importantly, you noted that someone’s race does not predict their ability for success. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments here. Thanks!

  3. > Where do your ideas about race come from? What are the sources of your information?

    My ideas about race came from my parents originally. What this allowed was me being well versed in the different cultures of central america and south america. In hindsight some of the things they taught could have been stereotypical but it showed me that even though all these countries speak the same languages they are different. It was a shock when I was younger and I would explain this to people and they did not understand. For example I would explain that Spanish people do not all love tacos, Mexicans specialize in tacos while my mother’s country specialized in pupusas. Their response would be “Stop lying bro you know you like tacos too.” As I got older i began to understand that hispanics are viewed as a collective whole rather than their individual countries and even though my parents went to great length to explain this, someone who grew up in a non-hispanic household does not even have the slightest idea of the different types of cultures “Spanish” encapsulates.

  4. I would define race as how I would identify myself to others like Asian, Africans, Mexicans, and Europeans and so on. Sometimes people use race to identify physical characteristics. For example, hair color, eye color and skin color to identify where they are probably from. For me, I would be defined as South Asian. However, people from Asia does look quite different from according to their geographical area. For example, people from South Asia will quite differ in the way they look from people in elsewhere in Asia. I believe this might be the case from around the world. However, I do agree that in some cases one might look from somewhere else than from their own country. In fact, I have faced the same situation often times. I was often thought that I’m Spanish. Once, I was in train and suddenly a woman started talking with me in Spanish and I was clueless. I just had to respond that I don’t speak Spanish, I’m sorry. I think in most of the cases there are similarities in physical appearance which are caused by their climate and the living style. I think race makes us differentiate from others. Yet I believe we make our own unique identity in an outside world. I believe it is important for us to accept where we come from and yet it’s the most beneficial way to accept our own self.

  5. Race refers to the large-scale categorization of human groups based on genetic physical differences as well as other differences like nationality and history.
    It is virtually impossible to accurately know how many actual races there are on Earth. There are a few basic races from which you can further dissect into other races. I think it’s hard to know what racial group someone belongs to, since we all belong to more than one racial group

  6. How would you define race? What does it mean to you?
    Growing up I was surrounded by the same people as me, as in color so Hispanic. It wasn’t until I started school where I saw different types of people, from all over the world and that’s when I started to question who am I. Race can be define differently, but to me I believe race is defining people from their color skin, backgrounds and ethnicity. Race is such a big thing because, usually I can recognize someone and say hey their from where I’m from by the way they speak, communicate with me and see if by the conversation if we have the same background. Other times is its a mystery which makes me find out more about the person and learn about their culture and background. What race means to mean me I am Hispanic though I was born here United States, I was raised with Hispanic traditions though my parents are more modern. Race to me is having cultural diversity because though a person skin tone we can make a prediction on what their race is , we never really know that they can be from several different places, that’s why I’m open minded because you never know which is a mystery, that why I love hearing people backgrounds and life stories so I can find more about person instead of just a skin tone.

  7. > How would you define race? What does it mean to you?

    I would define race as a means for society to categorize a person based on their physical characteristics such as hair, skin color, among other features. I believe it is a norm people follow to categorize individuals and maybe not necessarily in a bad way. For example, in any kind of application that is filled out, for demographic purposes, or opportunities for individuals such as scholarships or grants. I believe, although categorizing people due to their race may not always have bad intentions, it is still an undermining issue that makes individuals subconsciously believe that there is a difference between them other than physical appearance. Whenever the word “minority” gets used in a conversation, for some reason I think of races such as Black and Latino because somehow it is embedded in me. This stems from seeing events that constantly try to promote a “come-up” of these kinds of people. I identify as a Latino and growing up felt like those around me, mostly teachers, always compared the classroom full of people with similar background to those more fortunate with the term “rich white kids” used constantly. Teachers always used to make it seem like the goal for the minority is to live the life of those that are more fortunate (in this example, the Harvard kids). In reality, the way America has promoted life for its people, it should not be a goal to be as privileged as another race because in reality we should all have the same potential to be equally privileged. But unfortunately, America is not really like this at all. I think its people are subject to segregation due to their race and I believe this causes a separation of social status, stereotypes, and even racism at times. This is why there are scholarships and grants, clubs for specific races because they are known as the minority (at least I believe). Of-course the times aren’t like in the past where racism was harsh on people of color, but I believe we still suffer from the effects of those times today. I see this in police brutality and politics (Donald Trump) today. The whole subject of race is controversial and there are many factors to certain situations, but I strongly believe America still somehow divides its people due to race.

  8. How would you define race? What does it mean to you?

    My definition of race derives from your family’s culture and where you were born, but if you look deeper in to your family past, your culture can be from many different areas of the world which makes a little conflicting on what society will see with their own eyes. Race very interesting subject to me, because on the scientific scale of things if you took the time to investigate where you came from, you would be surprise that your culture alone can come from many areas of the world that got lost or not even adopted throughout time.

    • Thanks for the comment Jay!
      Be sure to join PSY3405 HD-32– you’ve posted on the HD31 site. Once you change the comment will move with you so you won’t have to worry going forward.
      Looking forward to hearing (reading) more from you!

  9. How would you define race? What does it mean to you?

    How i would define race is that race is a large population of people that looks similar, share similar cultures, live similar, and has common characteristic mainly by the skin color and facial features. I believe there is many other description on how race is define depending on the person perspective and lifestyle, depending on how each one of us live, we learn differently and view everyone differently. What race mean to me is that race is just a word we use to describe a large group of people that are similar and different from other groups. I would also say it is use to categorize groups of people. We are all still the same no matter what race we are.

  10. I am Mexican and I think that someone of the same race as me would be anyone who is latino. I believe that my first time ever seeing or hearing the word “race” would be when I was in middle school while answering a questionnaire/ survey therefore making school the source of my understanding of race. I was asked what race/ ethnicity I affiliated myself with, and it gave me answer choices from which I would have to choose from. Answer choices included: African American, or Hispanic/ Latino, or Asian, or other. I knew there was a difference amongst every one but I did not know that there was a name for it and that we all fell under categories. I assumed that our race had to do with our ethnic background and our appearance after answering that question. What really grabbed my attention while reading the answer choices was the word “other”, it looked as if the person asking this question got too tired to acknowledge the “other” races. To this day I still see this question, before applying for a job or school, and even before taking my SATs. I do wonder what my “race” has to do with any of those activities because I am a human being and I have a lot more to offer than what (race) they choose to see.

  11. Q.1 How would you define race? What does it mean to you?
    I would define race as a method of categorizing human being based off of ancestor background as well as visual differentiation markers. In addition, race generally assumes a biological or genetic components. The word race has been used to isolate the people from society just because not having same color or culture. In my point of view, race shouldn’t be the factor since everyone is given birth from god whether it’s black, brown and white. Yet, whenever we have to fill out any application such as; driving license, financial aid and many more, we have to specify our race. Sometimes, I wonder why it matters to know what race a person belongs to. Would I only be accepted into the college, organization and company because of my race. I am an Indian and I am categorized as Asian. When I meet new people they question “If your brown (Asian), why do you have such a “Hispanic” last name (Ghai)”? I believe it is important to know where you come from and your true identity and not just what other people label you as.

  12. > How many races do you think there are? What are they? How do you decide which race someone belongs to?
    To my knowledge, there are many types of races but I don’t know exactly how many we have. The most common races I can identify are Caucasians, Latinos, African Americans, and Asians. My assumption of someone’s race is categorized by the physical appearance of the person. For example, the skin color, hair color or hair type, and face features. However, race is becoming a broader topic because intermarriages are seen more nowadays. People born with two different races, who gets to decide which race group they belongs to? Society or themselves? I am eager to learn more about this topic.

  13. How would you define race? What does it mean to you?

    To me, race is defined by my nationality, my skin color, my hair texture, the shape of my eyes, the language I speak and the foods I eat. Race means classifying people and putting them into a group. Because when we figure out or guess a person’s race, we always put them into a particular group and judge them. When I think of race, racism comes to mind, because after we guess a person’s race we usually tend to be stereotypical about them. Like we may say ” your racial group smells, or is poor or dirty” and there’s many more and it’s always connected with negative thoughts. This is why I personally dislike how people try to separate one another by putting them into a racial group.

  14. How would you define race? What does it mean to you?

    Race is an abstract idea that society create on us since that first day that we born, through our adult life. It’s just a meaning that we make on the actual word. However, I can identify people from different country by their looks for example, on their skin color, or their hair style, the complete structure of the body, the color of the hair, the way they talk, the feature in their face etc. Eventually, for me race you give it for any type of animal, that is how you can distinguish which race is the best in dogs etc. But, now that I am into the subject i will study a little more deep to be aware more about the race, maybe a need more information to be conscious about the whole concept that it behind the word.

  15. How would you define race? What does it mean to you? I would define race as a way to put visible different characteristics of different groups of people such as having similar observable traits such as: skin color, eye shape, and different hair textures to sort out differences. Race is just different characteristics our society sees, to categorize people into different groups. To me, race means everything we do from the second we are born, to when we live our lives, is judged. Different types of people, just because they have something different, such as a significant skin color, are judged on a daily basis. I believe the creating of races, has lead to racism. Society never gets along, we really need to make that change to see everyone as equals. I feel that categorizing people as putting some down, is very wrong. We are all human, no matter what our outer appearance may be. To me, we are all no different. Now, I have been exposed to more different types of people. By doing so I have learned about different backgrounds in this college. Its interesting to learn about different customs. This goes with ethnicity more rather than race, but the two coexist.

    • Great point- not only to race and ethnicity co-exist they interact to either confirm or refute stereotypes. I appreciate that you are experiencing learning about differences with an open mind and heart.

  16. For me race is just an idea that the society has come up with to justify discrimination or ill treatment imposed on people by the society, for example police brutality is one of the many things that minority groups in America have to face just because they are a certain skin color or dress in a certain way, it is considered okay to subject people to humiliation or even death. There are no races and you can never decide to which group does an individual belong to because everybody is there own person and has their own personality and there is no need to categorize anybody we think would “fit” under a certain heading or in a certain group. There is no hard evidence that can prove my genetic or biological similarity or difference with a certain group. I don’t tend to believe in what the media and specially the news has to say about a certain group of people. My source of information are the people them self. I have interacted with different people of same race and have found a great difference in how they react and interact with different situations and different people regardless of the fact that they belong to the same race. Therefore according to me race is nothing but a rootless and meaningless idea used by the society to justify different norms and in many cases hide their heinous crimes like police brutality and discrimination as an whole.

  17. 2. When I think of race I think of ethnicity. Some of which are Asian , African , Hispanic , and Caucasian. We as humans tend to create an image of how we put these groups and how they should look. For example we would say Asians are rather brown and yellow type color in skin where Africans are dark brown and Hispanics are light brown and mixed and Caucasian as white and peach color. That is where we come to a description of who belongs in what race. Our mind has an image of who fits in what category by simply looking at their physical features.


  18. Liz Cardenas
    February 16, 2016

    Where do your ideas about race come from? What are the sources of your information?
    It’s a great question to be asked. In my family I was taught that we are all the same no matter of your color skin. I was taught to respect other cultures as if it was ours. We believe that God created us all equal that in his eyes there is no preference. Now about race I can say it all started when I came to this country. You might be asking why? Well Yes I came to this country when I was 10 years old. The only language that I spoke was Spanish and my friends at school will stare at me like if I was a alien. I was surprise how students that spoke the same language were so rude. I was often called an immigrant, and that I was an Indian from the amazon. At school I was taught that African Americans & Latinos are most likely to live in poverty, low income housing, and low education compared to white Americans.
    It was sad that a young age I had to deal with racism. It was very difficult to adopt with a total different culture. Now as a mother of two beautiful boys, I encourage them to treat others as how they would like to be treated.

  19. How many races do you think there are? What are they? How do you decide which race someone belongs to?
    According to my research I found there are five races such as:
    American Indian or Alaska Native
    Black or African American
    Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
    If I were to decide someone race which they belongs to, I would go by looking their appearances for instance; people skin color, eyes, hair and the way they dress themselves, as well as the way they talk to people or their accent.

  20. How would you define race? What does it mean to you?
    I would define race through physical characteristics and not biological. These physical characteristics such as the color of our skin, our background, and the lifestyle help identify us as who we are. An example of this is that we live in New York, a melting pot for diversity everywhere you look. You have different ethnic groups from all around the world here in New York. Whether it is walking down Jackson Heights, Queens and experiencing how the Indian Asian community lives or walking down a piece of Brooklyn, and experiencing how the Jewish community lives. To me it makes no difference what color we are because color is just skin deep. What matters in the end is that we are all one.

    • Well put! You raise an important point in respect to how we should treat each other because you said many of our difference are only skin deep and we are more like one than we are many. Thanks for your comment!

  21. I define race by ones skin color and their appearance. I think it just a word people use to identify other people that are different physically than their own. I would say there are are like a half a dozen races. Ive grown up taking surveys and found out that they(the surveyors) consider race to be black, white, asian, pacific islander, Hispanic, native american. I agree that these are the basically the top races. I decide which race someone belongs to by physical appearance, their country of origin, and who their parents are. I would say people of my ethnicity would be the close to me because i would think that people who came from your origin would be similar biologically because we have similar physical features. As Ive said before, my ideas of race were influence by my surroundings like surveys, my education, friends, family.

  22. How would you define race? What does it mean to you?
    I would define race as a way of putting people into groups based on their physical characteristics such as skin color, eye shape, hair texture, and also by where they come from and what language they speak. To me race means that although people are put into these large groups by appearance, they are still very much different and shouldn’t be defined by their race.

  23. How many races do you think there are? What are they? How do you decide which race someone belongs to? I think there are five race categories. American Indian/Native, Asian, Black, White and Native Hawaiian. Although my ethnicity is Hispanic, I check off black because the other races is not suitable.
    I went to a retreat 2 years ago and the topic was about race. The point was that a lot of Latin Americans/Hispanics does not believe they are black and they prove this by showing the majority of Spanish communities checked that they are white on the census.

  24. What is Race and what does it mean to me?

    Race is a term used to categorize people of similar characteristics. Some defining characteristics include language, color of skin and where a group of people originated. As a Hispanic Caribbean person I could never seem to fit into one race category. I don’t identify myself as White or Black but rather a mixture of both. Race is a social construct, a way for society to group people together and identify them. To me Race is complex, it is much greater than Black, White and Pacific Islander. Race makes it easy to label groups of people without getting to know their migration history, language, religion, traditions and practices and as such you will never really know who the person is.

  25. How would you define race? What does it mean to you?
    Race to me has no real definition. The reason why I say that is because I was raised to be color blind and not judge any one on their race. I have a family that is mixed with all different races. Your race do not define you as a person. You can be any race you want to be via job applications, school forms and etc. Race is a category of your family background. I feel race is kinda used in a bad way to separate people and I think we are all mixed at the end of the day.

  26. Question: Look around the room or around your community. Who do you think is likely to be most similar to you, biologically or genetically? Why?
    It really depends on the level of interaction that I have with the person. One thing that I learned from my years of stay here in New York, is that physical appearances alone cannot always be the ‘tell’ when it comes to identifying a person’s ‘race’. For example, if I see somebody walking down the street and if you ask me if I could tell if he/she is a Filipino or not, I would have to say that I usually cannot do that accurately. Physically, Filipinos can both be pale and colored, which makes it tricky. However, sometimes, I can catch certain gestures or attitudes that only Filipinos do, which helps.
    Who do I think is more biologically or genetically similar to me? I really do not know. Nature is fascinating that way, that it is able to produce millions and millions of genetic maps over the course of billions of years. And since I am not well versed in biology or am I geneticist, I cannot tell. Like what I said, physical appearances can be deceiving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *