Race

Race has long been considered a physical characteristic. From a biological perspective, race

assign these two individuals the same ethnicity. But grouping these individuals together makes sense if the purpose of the assessment is to have data on Mexican immigrant culture. Given that ethnicity denotes a set of religious, racial, national, linguistic, or cultural characteristics that define a group, the ethnicity measure in this community needs assessment was based on religion as Catholic or not and on birth- place as Bowe County or not. Thus, non–Bowe County–born Catholics were assigned a Mex- ican ethnicity. This example was intentionally contrived to demonstrate the importance of purpose in developing indicators of diversity and the profound effect the variables used have on the indicator and subsequent findings.

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Culture is often implicit, tacit, and not expressed as a distinct factor, making it difficult to measure. In addition, because a dominant culture exists at a societal level, measures of culture are less useful in health programs than indicators of more discrete, smaller subpop- ulations, such as those that might be defined by ethnicity or nationality. For these reasons, ethnicity is used as a proxy for cultural identity

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