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Color Coding - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
Color Coding
At Wednesday's pediatric appointment among the various things I had to fill out and/or sign was a little card on which they wanted me to designate Margaret's race. And thus it begins.

Warren filled out the birth certificate paperwork in the hospital, so this was the first time I was confronted with this particular pickle. Of course Warren has been confronted with it his entire life. I have long found the whole ritual of checking off my race to be stupid, annoying and pointless. On the other hand, there has always been a box that is clearly the one I am meant to check. Let's face it, people don't come very much whiter than me. Of course "white" bugs me, particularly because it's meaning has been fluid. Currently it seems to mean ethnically European, but the definition has certainly been narrower in the past. Race is something I consider to be an artificial construct. I find ethnicity to be much less problematic. Ethnically I'm mostly Scottish, but people never ask that on forms, they ask whether I'm white or some other color. I wish sometimes that if people had to ask about these things that they would ask about ethnicity instead and let people give multiple answers. That way I could answer that I am mostly Scottish, with some English and some German & Swiss. If people could give answers like that then the truth would come out that people are a diverse, complex mix of this and that, and that's a good thing. We could also just not ask on forms at all, the only medical reason to know would be to see what genetic diseases a person might be carrying, though with genetic testing that is less necessary too. I was screened for the CF gene before we did IVF, so we know that we are safe from the most likely genetic issue. Sadly, we're still asking in terms of black/white/brown/yellow/red, though with slightly more PC names for the non-white groups (only slightly). I'm really failing to see how this does anything other than perpetuate this less than useful construct of race.

I ticked off other. There was of course no box labeled 75% European & 25% Chinese. I imagine that I will be filling in "other" a lot an feeling annoyed about it until Margaret is old enough to tick of "other" herself and feel annoyed on her own behalf. This was not one of those forms where the "other" box had a line next to it for you to fill in. When I am confronted with one of those I will be sorely tempted to fill in "Sidhe", because she looks like a fairy princess to me and it's their own damn fault for asking such a stupid question in the first place.
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From: llennhoff Date: June 27th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
They asked for race on my college boards, believe it or not, and I also checked other and filled in the line next to it as "Jewish".

For some reason my Spanish achievement test came back with me listed as a black Vietnam War veteran (?) although all the others came back normally.
sorceror From: sorceror Date: June 27th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

No box for "human"?

"Sidhe" would be neat, though. And she is part Celtic...
sorceror From: sorceror Date: June 27th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Huh. By a strange coincidence, Brazil is celebrating a holiday about this today. :-P
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: June 27th, 2008 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I am confronted with one of those I will be sorely tempted to fill in "Sidhe", because she looks like a fairy princess to me and it's their own damn fault for asking such a stupid question in the first place.


From: (Anonymous) Date: June 29th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hadn't thought about that issue much. I loathe checking "white" for myself, despite the fact that I am generally northern european (and my husband is "white" too, but often prefers not to answer). I suppose my BIL checks "white" too - but he's part Native American.... and my friend's baby is half Taiwanese - what do they check? Huh. We're all quite mixed, despite the fact that our "color" might not seem to be... these are not distinct boundaries! I think this issue is going to get a lot more complicated in the coming generations with increasing globalization...
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