3.19.2010

A Great Step for Equality

I love what I've heard reported as a nefarious idea on MSNBC lately -- an idea emanating from libertarian/conservatives: on census 2010, question #9, "What is your race?," check the "Other" box and write in, "American."

First, I love this because I love civil disobedience in general, and throwing a wrench in bureaucracy is its own reward, somehow.

Second, I love this because it undermines certain government programs that I find perverse and unprincipled (most obviously, affirmative action programs).

Third, this is a very reasonable notion. I have no strong affiliation with any "race" background of my own: I think I'm a little Dutch, a little English, and a little of three or four other things, including Native American. But I don't give a shit, and I've long admired this early excerpt from Crevecoeur's 1782 text, "Letters From and American Farmer":
...whence came all these people? they are mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. From this promiscuous breed, that race now called Americans have arisen... Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims, who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigour, and industry which began long since in the east; they will finish the great circle.
Yes, whiners, it's true that "black" people and others are left out of this description. But we of the American race would be happy to have them now. In any case, I can't wait to fill out my census now. I have a cause!

13 comments:

Wishydig said...

man this is old. years ago, when you were about a month old, my mother decided to put "human" for race.

take that, ugly american!

Casey said...

No, bravo! I knew there was something special about you. I knew it. And it took years to tease it out.

Human.

Wishydig said...

and what race i assume, you shall assume.

Casey said...

Out of curiosity, did your mom put "human" for you in particular, for all of the kids, or for the whole family?

Wishydig said...

i think we were all humans.

Insignificant Wrangler said...

I could get behind this a bit more if it wasn't for point 2 here.

Casey said...

Is that a rapidly growing legal Hispanic population, on point 2 there?

I know it's easy to call short-sticking illegal immigrants racist, but it's actually not. It's just nationalism. I think we should teach about as much Central American culture as we teach European culture, but not because there are more "Hispanic" people in Texas.

Wishydig said...

to be honest, illegal immigrants have to be described as a pretty important influence on this country. whether they came from mexico or spain.

but these are different points.

for the record, i did identify myself as hispanic, because… well i do identify myself as hispanic. and i know what it means. but when they asked me to identify what "type" of hispanic i am, i couldn't say. so i checked other, and in the space that asked me to write-in my type of hispanic origin, i wrote "american." because that the type of hispanic i am.

for race: human.

Casey said...

What's "Hispanic," then?--if not race? Under what question did you answer that?

I haven't received my form in the mail yet.

Illegals are a huge cultural impact, no doubt... and disproportionately from Central America, of course. But I don't see that as a justification for teaching more Central American culture than European or other. From my uber-nationalist perspective of late (it's all posed, you understand), I see either American or "Other," and I sort of feel that no single other should be privileged over other others.

Wishydig said...

who said anything about teaching more about central american than european culture? i just think if an educator wants to accurately describe the influences on this country's development, the influence of hispanics isn't trivial, nor is it necessarily a political privileging to support paying more attention to it than is currently paid.

hispanic is an ethnicity. a cultural group. a heritage.

the question simply asks if you're hispanic. and if so, of what origin.

as i understand the common arguments of race, it's a genetic categorization. and i reject it on those grounds.

Casey said...

Well I plead ignorance, here... I don't know exactly how much Central American stuff is already in these textbooks. I was just using European history as a corollary.

That's interesting about "Hispanic" as a culture vs. as a race. I guess like Judaism, maybe? So the census asks, specifically, "Are you Hispanic?"

Does it also ask, "Are you Jewish?" Or "Are you Arabic?" Is this just because of numbers? I'm conceding everything by way of the argument... now I'm just curious about it.

Lemme go google the census form.

Wishydig said...

i assume it's because of numbers.

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