I'm going to try my best here because there's no easy answer.
|Originally Posted by ernalala
One of the weirdest things, I find is that apparently in the US, people are officially categorised under a race or what is officially defined as race.
There are 3 ways to be categorized by race (these aren't official terms or anything- I made them up in order to explain it as best I can. I hope this is helpful.) :
^^^- You may be asked your race on paper (the Census, scholarship applications, etc.)- in addition to race, many of these forms may ask you to identify your ethnicity, nationality, etc.
Note: not ALL forms at every institution asks you to identify your race. Plenty of them don't. When they do, it's optional and you self-identify.
Many forms require that you check whether you're a citizen- employment applications, driver's license, etc.. Most of these do not ask for race.
It used to be that someone could fill in whatever race THEY thought you belonged to by simply looking at you (birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates, scholarship forms, school forms, etc.)
It's my understanding that there's only a handful of states in the U.S. left that ask for race on birth/marriage certificates.
It's possible to be discriminated against (not outright- that would be illegal) by whatever race you self identify on forms or by the someone in charge (landlord, employee) being able to identify your race (or guessing) by your name. (resumes, job application, housing application, etc.)
Also you can be discriminated against by the way you sound on the phone (tone of voice, accent, jargon, etc.)
^^^- Self-identification- is usually the culture/s that you most identify with and the ones you tell people that you belong to. You don't have
to identify by race. I'm OK with people identifying however they wish.
I usually identify myself by ethnicity and by my parents' nationality, as an American, (and sometimes even by State
- depending on the context ). However, other people may not know their ethnic backgrounds or they chose to self-identify by religion, culture, or other, or others may refuse to identify themselves as any category.
(ex- Jewish, Russian-Jew, Italian-American, Latino, White, Arab, Black, African-American, Vietnamese, Asian, Indian, etc.)
When people identify by race- it might be problematic if you don't physically match the stereotypes of that race. It's possible for people not to accept your self-identification and argue with you or insist that you self-identify in the way that they want you to.
^^^- Identification based on physical appearance- is when people see you and identify your race simply based primarily on your physical attributes (skin color, hair texture/color, dress, etc.)- ones that they stereotypically associate with a particular race.
In the other thread "correct terminology", someone wrote that in Canada- people identify you based on color. Only it didn't seem that they assigned any race to that skin color- apparently it's only used as a descriptor.
*For me*, I don't find it a problem to use color/racial/etc. terms as descriptors. Nor does it bother *me*, most of the time, when others try to categorize me by my physical attributes and conclude that I belong to a particular race/ethnicity, even if/when they're inaccurate. As long as it's not malicious.
For me, the problem ensues when they assign negative qualities/stereotypes to particular races and then act upon those assumptions.
This last one, is probably the basis for the most discrimination. It's based solely on your appearance and other people's perceptions of race.
This is the one that has nothing to do with forms and may not actually match what you fill out in forms. It's the one that you can't escape from.
|Do citizens of the US see this as a good or bad thing, I mean do you feel the categorising has clear advantages to it as a good reason of existance? Or is it part of the overall systemic racism problem?
This is my personal response, of course, I'm not answering for all other Americans.
My answer is both yes and no. *I* personally don't think it's bad to be identified by race -sometimes-, as I wrote above, if it's not with malicious intent.
I know people can feel solidarity with others based on their physical appearance. That's mostly a good thing. I love to spot people who I think may speak a particular language so that I can brush up on my language skills.
It sometimes also helps me find commonalities with other people or they do so with me.
Of course I'm an individual, as is everyone else. Race shouldn't be the only thing that defines me. In no way, does it make me an exact clone to others that identify themselves in the same way that I do.
|The result of these 'official definitions on race' must also be that many many people who are oficially defined as 'white/black/other' are actually not at all 'white/black... in appearance/' and the result may also very well be that many people considered white officially may experience a lot of prejudice/bigotry (considering US definition of racism in this discussion) in reality, and vice versa again. And well, how does all this has effects to 'statistics' considering 'racial categories'.
Oh, definitely- people don't always physically match what they're stereotypically expected to look like.
For instance, in elections, race is used to try to predict outcomes because many times members of particular groups tend to vote for specific political parties or agendas.
Race may also be used to determine what social programs to support.
Or it might be used to determine which groups have economic power.
I hope this helped.
I'm also learning a lot from this thread.