Both race, which describes physical characteristics, and ethnicity, which encompasses cultural traditions such as language and religion, play pivotal and socially significant roles in people's lives. These aspects of identity inform how individuals see themselves and the world, how others perceive them, and how they relate to each other. As immigrants create a more diverse nation, communities built around racial and ethnic identity can be a source of resilience and connectedness for arrivals who might otherwise feel isolated or alienated.
Although many people embrace racial and ethnic diversity, developing tolerance and respect for human differences, minority communities in the United States and elsewhere continue to suffer from inequality, injustice, and exclusion at the hands of the majority. The adverse personal, political, economic, and psychological implications of this discrimination and marginalization can include societal rejection, fewer job and educational opportunities, poor medical care, and unfair treatment by authorities.