The idea of race is modern; people have not always been categorized in this way. “Ancient societies did not divide people according to physical differences, but according to religion, status, class, even language.” (web sight activity) Not until people started exploring and moving across seas did they distinguish differences among others and have a need for classification. Over time and as immigration became popular there was more intermarriage, new races and ethnic groups.
Today sociologist understand race as a social concept and not a biological fact. For example White Americans are able to choose and pass for what race and ethnic backgrounds they want to claim. The decision to claim Irish American, rather than Irish and French American depends on the situation. During St. Patrick’s Day one might claim to be Irish and not French because the French is irreverent to the situation. This person would be called an optional ethnic because their social situation makes it most convenient to be just Irish. Another example is when parents fill out their children’s census ancestry reports. “Only about 60 percent of the children of English-German marriages are labeled as English-German or German-English. About 15 percent of the children of these parents are simplified to just English, and another 15 percent are reported as just German. The remainder of the children are either