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.