A jewish man, a hindu woman and a muslim woman

Race and Identity

Race plays an important role in shaping our identity and in turn, can shape the way we think or see the world around us. Additionally, there are mental health considerations unique to certain racial and cultural groups. Learn more about the relationship between your identity, your racial group, and your mental health.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the concept of race?

    The dictionary by Merriam-Webster defines race as “a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits.”

    Race is usually associated with biology and linked with physical characteristics, such as hair texture or skin color, and covers a relatively narrow range of options. Yet people of similar complexions/hair textures can be defined as different races, and definitions in the United States have changed over time.

  • What are the six categories of race?

    When completing paperwork that asks for race, you may be asked to identify yourself as belonging to one or more of the following categories:

    • White
    • Black or African American
    • Asian
    • American Indian or Alaska Native
    • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
    • Some other race

    While some may be considered to be of a certain race, Black people, for example, may identify more with their individual ethnicity, as opposed to race. This could apply to any member of any race.

  • Why is it important to learn about race and ethnicity?

    Conversations about race and ethnicity are key to building empathy, facilitating acceptance, understanding, and respect for those with people from other backgrounds. Such histories of other cultures and races are often erased or minimized from mainstream narratives, so it is essential to learn about the struggles and experiences of marginalized groups.

Key Terms

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Page Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Merriam-Webster. Race.

  2. Merriam-Webster. Inclusion.