The concept of “race” shapes American politics and society today because people are divided into groups based on their perceived race not only by the media, but by the influential and powerful people that the media talk about. One example is the comments of President Trump, and commentary on those comments, in relation to Hispanic Americans, Mexicans, Muslims and others (Simon, n.p.). The different racial and ethnic groups are perceived as being similar to one another, and generally sharing opinions.

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Often the concept of race is used, but what is meant is actually a combination of race, culture and religion, which can be referred to as the more complex idea of ethnicity. For example, being Hispanic takes precedent over skin color, leading to complicated explanations in both opinion polls and American census data which uses this category (Day, 1992). Often the media is discussing the politics of Muslims in America, which can refer to people of Arab descent, however the religious affiliation is not determined by ancestry. What is meant when people refer to Muslims, particularly since the discussion is often in the context of terrorism or border control, tends to be the representation of an Arab immigrant from a Middle Eastern country (Simon, n.p.).

The concept of race as a driving indicator of societal division is at work in current events today in media because it is reinforced by the communication infrastructure of news, polls and dialogue. It is of interest currently because it is driving national politics and presidential points of interest, both in discussions of the electorate in analysis of voter support as well as issues which President Trump has highlighted on his platform (Simon, n.p.). Rather than public opinion being grouped by communities of interest, work or ideology, it can be assumed based on media and even government statistics keeping that the main divisions of society are ethnicity and race.

  • Cobas, J. A., Duany, J., & Feagin, J. R. (2015). How the United States racializes Latinos: White hegemony and its consequences. Routledge.
  • Day, J. C. (1992). Population projections of the United States, by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin: 1992 to 2050 (No. 1092). US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census.
  • Simon, Darran. “President Trump’s other insensitive comments on race and ethnicity”. CNN. January 2018.