Rid Ourselves of the Race Card


Columbia, MO – I have said this before and I will say it again. I am not “White.” My skin color is beige. My race is Caucasian, my family origins are northern European and I am an American by birth. Do not call me White. Oh yes, I am a Native American – I was born in this country.

My friends who can trace their origins to Africa are not “Black.” Their pigmentation is various degrees of brown. Their race is Negroid, their heritage is African and most are Americans by birth or naturalization.

Why be angry about simple semantics? Because it is neither simple nor semantic, it is a matter of identity. Yah, I am one of those left-wing pinko liberals, but using weasel words to cover our fear of race when speaking of our neighbors is just plain wrong.

Why has the subject reared its ugly head? It started with an article concerning a local school district allowing students to declared “multi-racial” on demographic surveys.

One of the choices is not at all clear: Why are individuals whose families trace their heritage to the Middle East to be considered “White?” Palestinians would disagree with this assessment.

In fact, the designation of “White” includes individuals whose heritage is from Europe, North Africa or the Middle East. The National Center for Education Statistics pamphlet “Managing an Identity Crisis” does not give any reason. For this, I went elsewhere.

Dr. D. R. Johnson of Leeds University in England indicates that there are indeed three “races” formally recognized in physical anthropology, Caucasoid, Mongoliod and Negroid, each with multiple subgroups. Each group is designated by physical attributes as facial size and shape, hair texture and color, etc. The Caucasoid subgroup of Mediterranean includes southern Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Asia Minor populous.

Most Persians would cringe at the thought that they were somehow related to the people of Spain, Italy or of Mesopotamia. Persia and Mesopotamia are Iran and Iraq today.

Ethnicity is the combination of race as well as the culture of the people within a specific region. Oxford English Dictionary defines ethnicity as, “having common racial, cultural, religious or linguistic characteristics.” (Oxford English Dictionary Second edition, online version as of 2008-01-12, “ethnic, a. and n.”)

Defining ethnicity as whether or not you are “Hispanic” is way too limiting. To define ethnicity as White, Black, Native American, Native Alaskan or Native Hawaiian (or Pacific Islander) is insulting.

This leads me to define myself as “none of the above.” My race is not “White,” but Nordic Caucasoid. My ethnicity… well, that can become quite confusing. Maybe my college nom de plume as the “New York Polish Jewish agnostic Unitarian Buddhist with a Catholic education” is as close as anyone could get.

I am an American Caucasian. My friend Jamie, whose family came to the United States about 1820 as slaves, is an American Negroid. Yoshi, whose grandparents hail from Osaka, is an American Mongoloid. Yet these designations are too limiting even with seven subcategories.

Many races have interbred. Jamie and Yoshi have a wonderful son named Allen. President Barack Obama is an American Indonesian-Mongoloid/Nordic-Caucasoid. Way too complicated. He is a mutt, like most of the rest of us.

The world is more than “Hispanic” and “not Hispanic,” and not “Black,” “White,” Yellow” or “Red.” Let’s get off the “I am better because I am of this race” high-horse merry-go-round and define the terms correctly. Especially when used in an education environment.

Let’s just remove the race and ethnicity cards altogether and only ask “Are you a citizen of the United States? If not, what is your country of origin?”

If our government can remove the stigma of race by skin color in demographics, maybe it would lead to the displacement of racism. And wouldn’t that be a much better world in which to live.

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About David Rosman

David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com, InkandVoice.com and NYJournalofBooks.com.
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5 Responses to Rid Ourselves of the Race Card

  1. Ah yes the wonderful all ending race card for those who feel the need of Entitlement.

    When they reach the end of their rope no matter what creed,race or religion it is always the race card isn’t it.

    I had this same topic of conversation on a blog I Administrate here:
    http://paquintowertimes.blogspot.com/2010/01/what-is-wiith-all-of-those-words-what.html

    This will be an ongoing issue until those who pull the race card realize how uneducated it really makes them look to begin with.

    Peace out.

  2. G says:

    David,

    As a Canadian who is working toward immigration and eventual US citizenship, I like your single question -‘are you American, yes or no? If not, where are you from?’. I recall people putting down Alanis Morissette’s rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner on the basis that she’s Canadian-born and therefore not a REAL American when, in fact, she was naturalized several years ago.

    If people cannot come to the States and become Americans, what does that say about the millions of Americans whose parents and grandparents did just that?

  3. novelbrand says:

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the intelligent conversation. Let’s ponder the underlying need for people to categorize themselves by race. This is a valid request because for me because:

    – For far too long in the ’80s and ’90s I “hid” my race when applying for positions (for which I was perfectly qualified) in order to be interviewed for a position; only to meet blatant expressions of surprise when meeting face to face.
    – I permed (straightened) my hair faithfully, to fit the “accepted” norm of corporate America, until two years ago.
    – I have met far too many “minorities” (is this still a valid term, guys?) who felt the need to ignore their heritage in order to be considered promotable.

    What is wrong with a society that still validates such blind and stupid limitations?

  4. G says:

    Novelbrand,
    I’m reading an interesting novel by Fannie Flagg called “Welcome to the World, Baby Girl” that explores the nature of race and identity in America in a way that I wouldn’t have expected from her.

    My heritage was hidden by my grandfather, who grew up speaking French in eastern Canada until he entered the work world and found that all of his bosses were English. He learned English, married an English woman and raised his kids in English. It happens to many people in many ways and for many reasons.

    I legally changed my last name because it was too complicated to keep explaining why someone with such a French-sounding name didn’t speak French fluently.

  5. Lauren says:

    At this point in American history, it seems to me that class trumps race in terms of educational opportunities and successes
    http://tasteslikechicken2me.wordpress.com/2009/03/23/starting-school-in-america-time-to-pick-a-race/

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