Race and Ethnicity

What do the terms ethnicity and race mean to me? The definition of ethnic as stated in the online dictionary www.merriam-webster.com (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ethnicity) is “a particular affiliation or group”, and the definition of race also stated in this online dictionary is “a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/race).
Do these definitions answer the question of what ethnicity and race mean to me—no they do not. Ethnicity to me is best displayed in the Mexican culture of my hometown in Texas. My friends and neighbors had traditions they brought along with them when their ancestors first migrated from Mexico to Texas. Most families maintained the tradition, at least in their homes and around family members, of speaking their native tongue of Spanish. The coming of age ritual, or quince era, was the dream of every one of my Hispanic girlfriends. They would dream of that day, minus the handsome prince or valiant knight, much as I would dream of my wedding day. My family is such a blend of cultures and countries that no one tradition became a standard, and as a result I was envious of the traditions and cultures my Mexican-heritage friends had.
Living in the United States and growing up in the South, race only meant one thing-the color of your skin. I was fortunate that I grew up with a very forward thinking mother. My mother worked downtown Dallas during the days when blacks were working so hard to achieve equality. She witnessed first-hand the cruelty that mankind will perpetuate against one another just because of skin color and made sure we were raised to understand first and foremost we are all children of God making us all brothers and sisters and equal in every way.
So what does ethnicity and race mean to me? Ethnicity is your heritage, what you carry with you from your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and all of your ancestors. Race is the little box, as...