Salience of Ethnic or Racial Identity essay

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Ethnic identity refers to the degree to which a person identifies with individuals of an ethnic group. Racial identity is the degree in which individuals identify with people of the race to which they belong (Cornell & Hartmann, 2007). It has been evident that contextual effects pose a significant influence on how individuals identify with others in the society (Cornell & Hartmann, 2007). Some of the contextual factors that increase the prominence of ethnic or racial identity in an ethnic or racial group are: high residential concentration of the group, separate social institutions for the group and legal prohibition against intermarriage. Group factors may also increase the prominence of ethnic or racial identity in an ethnic or racial group. This happens when the cultural practices of the group, especially the religion, differ from the practices of the surrounding society (Cornell & Hartmann, 2007). This paper will consider how children identify with family members within the family lineage, as well as the ways in cosmetic surgery relate to class, race, gender, nation and ethnicity.

A Chinese family serves as a nice example on how the contextual effects determine the salience of racial and ethnic identity. This family exists in Chinatown, San Francisco, as the physical location. Therefore, the residential concentration of Chinese people is extremely high in this region. Children learn cultural practices from their parents, siblings or neighbors, who are readily available. The parents in the Chinese family take their children to Chinese schools, right from baby class to high school. Some social intuitions, such as schools and hospitals in the Chinatown, San Francisco admit the Chinese only (Yeh, 2008). This family does not prefer interactions, especially intimate relationships like intermarriages, with people from other racial or ethnic groups. They consider such interactions as increasing the likelihood of eroding their culture. For instance, intermarriage will encourage sharing of cultural beliefs and values (Yeh, 2008).

Therefore, it is evident from this family that some Chinese people try to create and maintain an environment that will encourage and strengthen racial and ethnic identity. The Chinese children learn from parents, siblings, and other people from the Chinese cultural background. However, some families from other cultural backgrounds may also maintain their culture by educating their children cultural values and beliefs. This may involve the establishment of intuitions, such as schools, hospitals and sport centers, exclusively for a race or ethnic group (Cornell & Hartmann, 2007).

Cosmetic surgery refers to the reconstruction of underlying tissues or skin, to correct and improve structural defects or remove a birthmark or scar (Waterhouse, 2008). However, people may do cosmetic surgery for the purpose of appearing young or changing the skin color. Because of the fact that cosmetic surgery can remove birthmarks, I will prefer to do cosmetic surgery on my face. I have a large, black birthmark on my face, which people use to identify me by describing my face. I look ugly, and many people do not feel comfortable to include me in their groups as a group member.

Changing the natural appearance of the body relates to gender, race and class in a number of ways. A person can decide to do cosmetic surgery and change the facial appearance to become more beautiful than it was the case. People may not admire a lady with a big birthmark on her face. A person with a large, shapeless birthmark on the face may look ugly. People may also consider this person as belonging to a family background that has a high likelihood for disabilities. It may be necessary to remove the birthmark for beauty purposes, as well as class inclusion (Waterhouse, 2008).

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