Minority Identity

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David Vitullo
Professor Sheen
POLS 306

Identity can be based on many different factors including, but not limited to; race, color, political presence and participation, and culture. The way one identifies themselves can be shaped by their political ideology, their group identity, their partisan identification, their voting behavior and their interest in group activities. However the way one person may see themselves may not be the way they are perceived by others.

Ascribed identity can be described as the way that society, or other people impose on you. A factor that is heavily involved in shaping ascribed identity is stereotyping. Stereotyping is defined as assign a set of particular attributes to a person based on presumed membership of a certain group. Stereotypes usually involves simplifying a complex situation but have proved to be very effective in shaping what people in a particular group think of themselves. For example, in “Can We All Get Along?” a survey of black people showed that two thirds of the group surveyed believed that they shared a common political fate with other blacks in the United States. This shows the cohesion that occurs within groups of people based on something as simple as skin color. I use the term black because the book states that it describes an identity and status based on color. However, this group cohesion has proven by political research to strengthen a persons interest in political participation. The more that an individual identifies with members in their group, the more likely they are to take interest in candidates and policies that further the advancement of their group.

Minority status is not just based on a numerical scale of how many people, whether it be whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians etc. are accounted for, but is classified more by the benefits and privileges offered to different groups. Historically, minority groups have been exploited by majority groups for economic gain. For example, the enslavement of African-Americans and the taking of land from American Indians and Mexicans when settlement was first occurring. Other factors that can shape minority status can be race, gender, economic status, ethnicity or sexual orientation. In American politics, minority status can greatly affect the way that group is represented in the political arena. The role that these minority groups play has been influenced by the size and economic well-being and geographic concentration of the groups population as well as if they have previously participated in a civil rights movement. These factors are referred to as “minority group politics.” The amount of people in these groups and where they are located play a vital role in deciding how many members each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives , the way that electoral districts will be drawn up, and the number of votes that each state will have in the electoral college when choosing the president. As stated in “Can We All Get Along?” the Latino population has been increasing rapidly over the past forty years and is on pace to become the majority, as far as number of people, by 2042 but their political presence is still nowhere close to that of whites. The two main reasons for this is because the Latino population has a large number of voters who can't vote because of age and because they aren't citizens. Another issue in the lack of political participation that is addressed in the readings is the socioeconomic status of the minority groups. Groups that are better off economically, for example the whites, can afford the time to get informed on political issues and get out and vote accordingly. Another factor that hinders a minority groups political power is their level of education and employment. Whites are afforded more opportunities in the field of education because they can afford to live in better communities that have better schools and a more intense curriculum. This means that they have access to more...
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