Friday, July 09, 2010
I took a phone survey today and was reminded that most multiple choice questions don't have the "correct" answer for me. I was also struck by the follow-up question when my answer to the race question was -- caucasian. The interviewer said: do you consider yourself hispanic or of hispanic origin. I responded: "I understand why you would ask that if I had said "white" but my answer was caucasian and that question immediately followed my answering "Ph.D." to the level of education question, so one might assume I actually do know what my racial origins are."
His response was: "So that would be no to the hispanic question?"
My contention for many years is that the even the caucasian label is vague bordering on useless. Here it is, by the way:
of, pertaining to, or characteristic of one of the traditional
racial divisions of humankind, marked by fair to dark skin,
straight to tightly curled hair, and light to very dark eyes,
and originally inhabiting Europe, parts of North Africa,
western Asia, and India: no longer in technical use.
In other words -- "those people", you know the rich, in control, dominant, priviledged, blah, blah, blah. But all in all, not a helpful nor descriptive category. No, this is not going to be some inane rant about reverse discrimination, I have always said that being a large, white male in America is a huge advantage. But caucasian as a descriptive category simply sucks. You see apparently I am half Italian sort of and half Irish kind of. I have no connection to either of those cultures and all of my relatives, those that were alive when I was young and those alive now are just plain white folk.
Therefore, I now propose and will pencil in on all future applications, surveys and prying government inquiries my true racial label:
I am albus americanus!
If you are too, then stand up proud and don't forget the SPF 45 sunscreen.