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Interracial: Honest Conversations

In modern times, race is more of a sociological label than a physical one. Many of us are taught that "races" of people are based on physical differences, when in fact there is very little physical evidence to distinguish them. According to the American Anthropological Association, genetic DNA evidence indicates that there is greater variation within "racial" groups than between them — only 6 percent of physical differences can be attributed to conventional racial groupings.

The concept of race has been used throughout history as a means of marking groups of people for the purpose of privilege or oppression. Many scholars believe that race in the U.S. was first defined in the 1700s as a social mechanism to refer to the different populations brought together in colonial America: European settlers, conquered Indians, and enslaved Africans.

Because the history and politics of nations can differ, so can the racial categories. For for example. South Africans have two categories, "Black" and "Colored" to describe people whom Americans might put into one category, "Black" (or African-American). Blacks make up about 75 percent of the population in South Africa, whites make up about 13 percent, 3 percent are Asians, and about 9 percent are known as Coloreds. Coloreds are South Africans of mixed racial origin, mainly black and Afrikaner.

In addition to being multiracial, South Africa is also a multiethnic society. Black South Africans belong primarily to nine ethnic groups: Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi, Ndebele, and Venda. The Zulu are the largest of these groups, making up about 22 percent of the total black population. White South Africans are descended primarily from British, Dutch, German, and French Huguenot (Protestant) settlers. Afrikaners, also known as Boers, make up about three-fifths of the white population. They are people of Dutch ancestry, and often have German and French heritage as well. Asian South Africans are mainly of Indian ancestry, though a small number are descendents of Malaysia.

Differences between racial categories in the U.S. and in South Africa:

Face of Lance.
Face of Lebo.
Face of  Marvina.
Face of Samorah.
Face of Thameenah.
In South Africa, Lance is Colored. In the U.S., he would be considered Black.
In South Africa, Lebo is Black. In the U.S., she would also be considered Black.
In South Africa, Marvina is Colored. In the U.S., she would be considered Black.
In South Africa, Samorah is Black. In the U.S., he would also be considered Black.
In South Africa, Thameenah is Colored. In the U.S., she would be considered East Indian.

Watch a video. 56k modem. DSL, Cable. Get the Real Media plug-in. Jonathan, who is Jewish, wants to marry someone who is Jewish. Janelle, who is a Native American of Navajo decent, wants to marry only someone from her tribe. Stephanie agrees with Janelle but disagrees with Jonathan.

Watch this streaming video clip of their discussion and then you decide who is right.