Wednesday, May 26, 2010

America's Obsession With Race

We just can't get over it.  We want to be hyphenated but we want to be assimilated.  I read this headline this morning:

"Interracial Marriage Still Rising, But Not As Fast"  (here's the entire article)

My immediate response was:

1.  How do you define interracial these days?

2.  Shouldn't we just be glad people are getting married instead of living together?

And then when I read the stuff about the census data, I got all annoyed again.  They wrote this line:

By some estimates, two-thirds of those who checked the single box of "black" on the census form are actually mixed, including President Barack Obama, who identified himself as black in the 2010 census even though his mother was white.

If you look at old census data you see people identifying themselves as White, Black, or M for mulatto or mixed. But that designation of "White" carried further detail.  People identified themselves as "German" or "Irish" or "English", etc. Because of slavery, blacks could not further identify as "Ghanaian", "Angolan" or "Congolese." They had no idea. So why did it matter what flavor of white person the white person was? And why does it matter now what flavor of color any of us are?

So let's get rid of it.  Let's just ask: "Citizen" or "Resident Alien" and leave it there. The more we ask for specificity the more we perpetuate division.

Let's just all say "AMERICAN."


Mary said...

Agreed. And, did you know in the schools, the child is listed as his MOTHER's race, not his father's or whichever one seems more convenient at the time. (oops...maybe I said too much!)

Anonymous said...

I so agree with you on this. We are all humans who cares what the color of our skin is. Just doesn't make sense to me at all. Too many bigots in the world if you ask me.

Susan at Stony River said...

I agree too. They don't ask so many other questions -- like if we have blue eyes or what our IQ is or how many dogs we have -- why ask about our skin color or distant ancestry?

quilly said...

Hooray! I totally agree. This is what I taught my students, "under our skin we all look exactly the same and believe me, it's pretty darn gross."

I would also have the entire room full of kids try to find someone with the EXACT same skin color as them. They were usually quite amazed to see how many different shades of "the same" we aren't!

SouthLakesMom said...

Mary, that's how Jewish heritage was passed down . . . so does that mean that the President is actually white in the public schools? Oohh, don't want to go there.

Thom, the article mentions Hawaii as such a melting pot. I can't imagine how most Polynesians can be too terribly specific anymore!

Susan, I think they should ask our favorite TV shows - that would at least have a commercial application! Beam me up, right?

Quilly, that's a great experiment in class. I think the administrators at our middle school forget, when they let certain behaviors pass as 'cultural' that they too are making judgments based on skin color - something they would excoriate the kids for doing. My son is really bothered by the noise level in certain groups of girls. He says the language is bad too, but it's the actual volume that he finds ear splitting -- but because it's 'cultural' he just has to ignore it.

I knew he would learn a lot in public school but I was pretty sure it wouldn't be academic content! I was right!