Thursday, June 24, 2010
Ethnicity "Select One"
Recently, I have heard the issue of declaring one's “race” becoming a bit of a controversy.
I have heard some recent opinions disputing the need to declare such things on the recent and ongoing 2010 Census. Today I read in a local newspaper, that there is some concern over the accurate (or inaccurate) “box-checking”, as it relates to new Federal and State rules that seek more detailed information on the race of students.
We elected a President that has been hailed as the “First African American President” of the United States. I have never understood this. My understanding is that our current President has a “white” Mother and a “black” Father. This makes him as “white” as he is “black”!!?? I use the President as an example because he is such a recognizable figure that most everyone knows.
If it is not politically correct to “stereotype” someone based on the color of one's skin, why are people calling President Obama a “black” man...or “African American”? Is it because his features tend towards “African American”? If so, is that appropriate? Is it fair to simply disregard 50 percent of his heritage? Is it fair to his Mothers side of the family to simply ignore any of the cultural and ethnic background of his own Mother?! Quite simply, fear of speaking the truth and “Political Correctness” has distorted the truth. Its that simple. President Obama is of mixed race. He is no more “black” or African American, than he is “white”. Did this “black” self-identification serve as an advantage for his election? Was it used purposely?
President Obama exemplifies something that has gone on for years, without anyone pointing it out for fear of being “Politically Incorrect”. When a mixed race child (product of white and black parents, white and Asian parents, white and Hispanic parents...for example) is produced, the vast majority of the time, the child is identified (and thus identifies himself/herself) with the minority parent, and very often identifies with that culture, to the exclusion of the other Parents culture.
It is not because of math, percentages or common sense that this occurs, as it is obvious that there are two parents, each with past cultural, ethnic and heritage identities. Why is it that the minority identity takes over in these cases? Why isn't the child “white”? If it is simply due to the outward physical characteristics that one might exhibit, doesn't that seem a bit “stereotypical” and/or “racist”? Perhaps the “ethnic entitlements” (Think scholarships, affirmative action type programs etc) lure people into claiming the minority part of their heritage? I will leave you to your own questions and conclusions.
I would be remiss if I left out a significant part of American History and its impact in this arena. When slavery was legal, (and for a considerable time after) persons were required to disclose ANY physical, ancestral “black” lineage. This was done to keep track of, and frankly discriminate against not only persons of color but their descendants whether of mixed race or not. (And regardless of how far back, generationally, this “mixing of race” had occurred) It was a bad thing. Certainly no reasonable person would advocate this, yet, here we are in 2010 trying our best as a Country to “keep track” of everyone's ethnicity. Do you think it is for positive reasons? Do you think it promotes looking at all races/ethnicities in the same light....treating all as equal?
At what point does an individual stop being an “ethnic minority”? Is it when an individual is 50 % minority...25 %...10 %...5 %...2 %...? If one has minority status based on a great, great, great, great grandmother or grandfather...is this legitimate? Should it be? Most importantly, is the determining factor for ones minority status the outward physical appearance of an individual? Lets be even more clear. Does one need to have “darker skin” (or different colored skin) than a “white person”? Think about it.
Why are Hispanic persons considered a minority when Italians are not? How can someone from Brazil be more of a minority than someone from Czechoslovakia? How can a person from Japan be a minority, when a person from India or Egypt (heck Egypt would make you “African American”!)....is not? Are Russian immigrants a minority??
We dare not discriminate (or assign minority status I would think) based on the color of ones skin....do we? Did we not, as a country, declare this as “wrong” and “bad”?
Finally, if “minority status” is based on past treatment or hardships encountered as a result of ones race or ethnicity, are Jews a minority? Certainly they have endured hardships spanning thousands of years. They have endured slavery, racism, and the outright murder of millions of their people as recently as 60 years ago! Certainly as much hardship as any ethnicity I know of, no?
I have asked more questions, than made statements. This is purposeful on my part. I am constantly frustrated with the amount of attention race gets in this Country. I think the assignment of race is purposeful and used to advantage by too many people in this Country. People on BOTH SIDES of the “Ethnic minority” argument.
I am an American, with a rich family heritage that includes a variety of cultures and Nationalities and I prefer a society and a Country that “judges a man/woman based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin”. Of course, character is a lot tougher to come by than skin color.