Few concepts are as emotionally charged as that of race. The word conjures up a mixture of associations—culture, ethnicity, genetics, subjugation, exclusion and persecution. But is the tragic history of efforts to define groups of people by race really a matter of the misuse of science, the abuse of a valid biological concept?
In common use, ethnicity is used as a euphemism for the sensitive term race, but with identical meaning: group ancestry and physical characteristics, such as skin color, as in “ethnic Chinese”. In careful use, it refers to any common characteristic or identity, particularly linguistic, national, regional, or religious groups, and can cut across race, such as Hispanic/Latino; or be a subgroup of a racial group, as in German Texan, Chinese Indonesians, Nuyorican (New York Puerto Rican), etc.