I am so confused with this whole nationality, race, ethnicity thing. Okay, so.
Most Helpful Guy
"Nationality" refers to your POLITICAL heritage. If you're a citizen of the United States of America, you're American (or "US-American" to be very precise).
"Race" and "ethnicity" are two words for the same thing. The difference is that the word "race" is only used in North America (US and Canada). Europeans - especially continental Europeans - only use the word "ethnicity". The reason for this is historical. When we hear the word "race" in Europe, we immediately think of the Nazis and their "Rassenideologie" ("race ideology"). The word "race" was so much occupied by the Nazis that a new connotation was created in languages such as German, French, Dutch, Swedish etc.. We don't like to hear or use the word "race" because it reminds us of Europe's very dark past. That's why we use the word "ethnicity". In America, the holocaust is seen as a terrible historical event but it's not something that has had a social or cultural influence. That's why in America, the word "race" is still acceptable.
Apart from the historical problem, there's also a biological problem with the word "race". When people speak of different races, they usually believe that there are distinct, biological groups (black, Asian, white etc.) that have nothing to do with each other. Biologically speaking, this is of course rubbish. Even most people who are African Americans are in fact mixed. The word "ethnicity" is more scientific and takes this into consideration. "Ethnicity" and "race" both refer to your biological origins but the word "ethnicity" does so in a less ideological way. It simply means "where you come from biologically speaking", whether you have ONLY black ancestors or maybe also one white great grandpa.
The difference between "black" and "African American" is that not all black people come from America. There are also black people in Africa of course and in some Caribbean countries. In the US, you can call yourself either "black" or "African American", whatever you prefer. In other countries, you can't call yourself African American of course because these people are not Americans. For example if you're in Somalia or in the Congo, you would just call yourself black (or maybe they have their own words for this).2
Most Helpful Girl
Nationality is what country you're from (as in born in and grew up in). If you were born in the USA and grew up there you are American. That identity can have grey lines, like one of my housemates has British parents / family / heritage but was born in Greece, then grew up in Bosnia and Jamaica. Now he's lived in Canada for the past like 10 years and he considers himself British and Canadian. He identifies pretty heavily with the Canadian side though.
Ethnicity is kind of similar if not the same as race. It's where you're from heritage wise. I'm white, and my make up is mostly northern and eastern European countries. Sweden, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Czech, Poland, Hungarian. It's political.
Race is a pretty bullshit term / idea though. It came about with colonialism and to classify people or those differently and has been used to justify oppression. It's possible to have twins where one is black and one is white. Genes are just a lottery and when you mix them up you don't know what you're going to get. It's only affected my dominant traits and things like melanin are just based on whether and where your ancestors migrated and for how long and then it depends on who they got with. We call some people "mixed" but the truth is we all are and even state lines have moved throughout history and states have broken apart or merged.
Culturally, I get it that race matters in some ways. You can't ignore it, we created these binaries and now we are separated and judgmental and we've assigned cultural meanings to the way things are. Cultures and identities change over time, so who knows how we're going to look at it in 100 years.
Also, I'm sure you know this, but just "African" isn't a nationality either as there are many countries and thousands of cultures and languages that make up that continent.0