You might think that the question “What is your race?” is an easy one to answer. It was for me for a long time. I changed how I answer that question and maybe you should too…
I do a number of surveys in a week. Some I do for fun… Yeah that seems strange I know. Most I do to make some little reward points/cash. Those are done to get a benefit to pass along to my kid. Things like getting reward/customer appreciation points that he can spend at ThinkGeek through Game Stop. They have some great stuff that you should check out if you are a gamer/comic/movie geek like us. Why I do the surveys is besides the point. The point is that most of these surveys ask a number of classification questions of the participants:
Looking at the above list you would think the answers are not very subjective for an individual person’s response. I don’t think they necessarily are either. For example my age, even though it goes up every second of every day it is a fixed quantity per year. About the only thing that changes in the above list is income and occupation and those track together. The one that interests me and the focus of this post is how people answer the Race classification. WHAT IS YOUR RACE? I have an answer for you below, but not before talking about a couple of other things.
Is it odd that the surveys are now asking about race/ethnicity in multiple ways? You would think why is it not just covered by one answer? It isn’t though and yes I found it odd when I started taking the surveys. The question specifically if I was of Hispanic/Latino origin is typically added as a separate query in a survey. There are a lot of questions by other and materials accessible on the web. I found a couple of answers that I liked. One I found on Reddit (really like the Pokemon example) and the other at PewResearch, it gets into more details of why this is happening. I would suggest you do your own Google research if you want to learn more. That is not really why I am writing this though.
Again you probably think that picking ethnicity and race is a fixed answer for each of us. Yes, you are proud of your heritage… or maybe not, I don’t want to put that on you. I am proud of my heritage. If you looked at me you would think I am a White Bread American Pink Boy. Yep, that is how I thought of myself for many, many years/decades. It really does not define me though. Just like the Hispanic/Latino origin questions, I feel that I am more defined by my ethnicity than my race. So what is my ethnicity? What did I put on the 2010 Census? Just so you know I specifically selected something “other” than what 94% of Americans picked. I will give you a hint. I picked “other” and did a write-in for what I feel that I truly am. I am sometimes curious to know how my answer tabulated in the census, but I doubt I will ever really know how it was handled. I also know that I will be pushing everyone I know, no matter their race or ethnic background, to answer the same as I did on future census takings. I still do this today on the surveys I take. You want to know? Read on.
WHAT is my RACE?
Although I really do consider myself Caucasian, I do have a number of other modifiers I could answer to adjust that classification. I am 1/16th Native American. I am English American. I am Irish American. I am Scottish American. I am French, German, etc… What all I am is unknown back through the ages. What I do “know”/have been told is that my family came across from England and helped to found the Jamestown settlement. That we have been in America for a long, long time (per-colonies). So how do I answer a question of race when asked?
I am AMERICAN. Not Native, Scottish, Irish, etc., etc. American. I am just AMERICAN. So when the question comes for me to select my Race I select “OTHER (Specify)” and I write in AMERICAN. Let’s look at a Teddy Roosevelt quote on this subject of being an American/immigrant and think on how it should apply to you:
“We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin.
But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.”
So answer American when asked! That is who I am and I would like to see all AMERICANS do the same when asked the question, “What is your race?”. It is what we fundamentally are. We are AMERICANS! We are a dynamic of one not a subset of many different. Don’t let us be divided. Be an AMERICAN with me. Come in sit back, relax and have ABigBeer with me my fellow Americans.
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