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Racial identification

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 
Last thread for today...

I was talking with my DH about college and scholarships and such. I mentioned that I'd gotten preferential treatment (although I didn't need it as I was a fantastic candidate) because I was identified as black. He thought that was kind of weird and then he said, "Well, our kids won't be able to get that since they're white." Umm... okay. His point is that if I were to identify the children as "black" so that they get preferential treatment it isn't fair to the children who actually look black. After all, someone who is black but looks white doesn't have the same life experience that someone does who actually looks black.

Is the one-drop rule dead already? I don't know.

The organizations around here are always asking us to list our children as "black" as they get additional funding and stuff for it. Seems sort of strange to list white-looking children as black, though. And not every form has "other". Should I just leave it blank, check both, or what?

What do you do?
post #2 of 91
We're uncomfortably with your husband on that one, for the moment. Very uncomfortably. It so highlights the inanities of checkbox racial identification though. For my children's father we always checked "black/African American" because he was African and his skin tone, hair texture, etc were such that no one was going to look askance at him for it, but we did so while being fully consciously aware that his heritage was not what is typically intended by "black" OR "African" as they exist in American parlance. (Darker skinned southern Egyptian father, lighter skinned Cairene mother.) For our children, I check white. When there is no room for "other," I really just don't know what else to do ... perhaps if their father's identification in that respect wasn't muddy already I'd be more comfortable throwing a monkeywrench into the works about it, but as it is I just leave it at the most physically obvious, and will support my kids in however they want to address the issue when they are of an age that things like scholarship eligibility become an issue.

If checking both is an option, then just both. What really grates on me are the forms that say "check the ONE that most applies."
post #3 of 91
On DD's preschool apps there were blanks that asked for "Race/nationality" so I answered "African-American/French." Which may not squarely address the question, since it may leave the impression that her dad was French of African, Arab or Polynesian descent -- which he wasn't. I haven't had the "choose ONE" situation, yet.

I'm still torn on how I'd handle it once we get to college/scholarship stage. I know that for myself, I checked the AA box with impunity, figuring that they would make of it what they would. BUT I recall that in applying for law school there was one (Hastings, I think) that had a special application program/process for members of traditionally disadvantaged racial groups as well as econ. disadvantaged folks. I remember making the decision NOT to apply through that program since I wasn't part of its target audience, with my middle class self, and didn't think it would be fair to take a spot away from someone who was, regardless of their race.

Of course, as affirmative action programs become scaled back, there's less and less likelihood of receiving an individual benefit from checking a box other than white. I don't know which way that cuts, though.

More stuff to think about. Sigh.
post #4 of 91
so, do I think it's fair that non-white people get government, employment, and funding perks simply because they aren't white? NO! Ticks me off to no end honestly. BUT, if my kids are interested in college and in search of scholarships you better bet I'm going to encourage them to check, "hispanic" so they are elligable for hispanic only scholarships. That makes me a complete hypocrite but, such is life. While I think the world should base resources and opportunity on ACTUAL QUALIFICATIONS I don't in any way agree with obligation to fill race quotas. I know the laws to help non-whites get what is fair are there to force people to provide equally for all but, in that they are becoming unfair. I guess it was well intended but, it's not sending a good message.

What I check for my children depends on the context. On medical stuff everything they are gets checked so appropriate testing and such will be done. On financial stuff yes, I check whatever will provide the greatest benifit (again, hypocrite), on something simply to survey general appearence I check white unless it asks to indicate all (simply because they look prodominatly white).

In addition, if I weren't white I'd honestly be a little insulted in those race advantage cases and laws. It's basically saying that the gov thinks non whites are less capable of getting jobs or qualifying for college based on merit or that they are more likely to be poor than their white neighbor. Even if it's based on real statistics of any kind I'd still find it rather rude and insulting.
post #5 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by FondestBianca View Post
It's basically saying that the gov thinks non whites are less capable of getting jobs or qualifying for college based on merit or that they are more likely to be poor than their white neighbor.


They are more likely to be poor than their "white" neighbor though. Trying to do something about that, however muddled the effort may be, isn't a condemnation of those who are poor -- it's an admission that the poverty rate statistical disparity came about through means that were not in the hands of the poor themselves.`That it's hard to apply "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" ideologies to people who didn't knock themselves down in the first place.
post #6 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by FondestBianca View Post
In addition, if I weren't white I'd honestly be a little insulted in those race advantage cases and laws. It's basically saying that the gov thinks non whites are less capable of getting jobs or qualifying for college based on merit or that they are more likely to be poor than their white neighbor. Even if it's based on real statistics of any kind I'd still find it rather rude and insulting.
Sorry, OT

I guess I could choose to be insulted, instead I feel really, really blessed that I (and generations of my family before me) have had the econ. and educational advantages that other African-Americans haven't (to use my race as an example, not to exclude others, but it's what's most relevant to my thinking).

Or, thinking about it another way, it's just par for the course. If they're like me, most people of color are used to being underestimated. In many contexts. Getting indignant about it isn't productive.

And, to be brutally honest, I'd bet (can't prove but have the strong sense) that many of the advantages that earlier generations of my family had were the result of their falling on the right side of skin color bias -- both inside and outside the AA community. We're a "light skin good hair" kinda family. : So I have some privilege there that I need to acknowledge/accept/deal with.

So no, not mad. Thoughtful, thankful, yes. But not insulted.
post #7 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
We're a "light skin good hair" kinda family.
So are we. We have a lot of Cherokee in us, as well, so we mostly have straight, jet-black hair. And my father's done some genealogy research and it seems that we're more white on his side than anything else. My father's family looks like the rainbow coalition so it's hard to actually tell which ones are the white ones at our family reunions. Tip: all of the red-haired, freckled people are black. It's really strange to have people who look that white be racist against white people. :

Quote:
I know the laws to help non-whites get what is fair are there to force people to provide equally for all but, in that they are becoming unfair. I guess it was well intended but, it's not sending a good message.
I felt a bit bad about the scholarships at the time (although I took them anyway -- hypocrite) because I had a white male friend who didn't get diddly and he was a better and more ambitious student than I was. And way poorer (I was upper-middle class). He worked his way to a Master's and I dropped out after a year. So much for that...
post #8 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by FondestBianca View Post
so, do I think it's fair that non-white people get government, employment, and funding perks simply because they aren't white? NO! Ticks me off to no end honestly. BUT, if my kids are interested in college and in search of scholarships you better bet I'm going to encourage them to check, "hispanic" so they are elligable for hispanic only scholarships. That makes me a complete hypocrite but, such is life. While I think the world should base resources and opportunity on ACTUAL QUALIFICATIONS I don't in any way agree with obligation to fill race quotas. I know the laws to help non-whites get what is fair are there to force people to provide equally for all but, in that they are becoming unfair. I guess it was well intended but, it's not sending a good message.

What I check for my children depends on the context. On medical stuff everything they are gets checked so appropriate testing and such will be done. On financial stuff yes, I check whatever will provide the greatest benifit (again, hypocrite), on something simply to survey general appearence I check white unless it asks to indicate all (simply because they look prodominatly white).

In addition, if I weren't white I'd honestly be a little insulted in those race advantage cases and laws. It's basically saying that the gov thinks non whites are less capable of getting jobs or qualifying for college based on merit or that they are more likely to be poor than their white neighbor. Even if it's based on real statistics of any kind I'd still find it rather rude and insulting.
I am not insulted to have been accepted into a majority white nursing program and then to be given a scholarship based on my race. Is it my fault that these programs are in place? Heck no, if so much injustice and undermining of people of color would not happen then maybe these resources wouldn't have been available to me or others in these circumstances.
For a country that was built on racism where blacks were considered cattle, 1/5th of a person, couldn't marry the person they loved, couldn't vote without taking tests, were lynched, castrated and burned because of our skin color. There wouldn't be an America without black people. I think its long past due for these kinds of programs to be given to us. I hate entitlement but I feel we are entitled to a little because whites in the past and sometimes today try their hardest to make sure we don't succeed or raise up from our bootstraps. Now we have that chance better believe I will take advantage of because unfortunately I don't have WHITE PRIVILEGE on my side.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbamama View Post
Sorry, OT

I guess I could choose to be insulted, instead I feel really, really blessed that I (and generations of my family before me) have had the econ. and educational advantages that other African-Americans haven't (to use my race as an example, not to exclude others, but it's what's most relevant to my thinking).

Or, thinking about it another way, it's just par for the course. If they're like me, most people of color are used to being underestimated. In many contexts. Getting indignant about it isn't productive.

And, to be brutally honest, I'd bet (can't prove but have the strong sense) that many of the advantages that earlier generations of my family had were the result of their falling on the right side of skin color bias -- both inside and outside the AA community. We're a "light skin good hair" kinda family. : So I have some privilege there that I need to acknowledge/accept/deal with.

So no, not mad. Thoughtful, thankful, yes. But not insulted.
OT I can't stand this good hair light skin mentality in the black community! What is the definition of "good" hair? What does that mean? That it is more white so its better than black nappy/kinky hair? Umm no, I cut my hair and went natural because I know my hairs is beautiful and can do things most peoples hair can't. We should be proud of our hair and see it as also good and beautiful, who else on earth has hair like this? I am sorry I hate that we have made these complexes within our own community that whatever is closer to white is so much better. Okay off soapbox back to the program

Can I also say that affirmative action does not ONLY help black people. It helps people who are low income also. I know plenty of white people who have benefited from affirmative action not because of their skin color but because of their economic situation. Of course there are more blacks poverty than that aren't but it does help more than blacks. Also it helps other people of color.

Also it is not my fault that I have been helped. I had to get recruited in order to get into just my pre-nursing course. After we had to compete to get the actual nursing program out of 150 students on 15 were people of color. That is a huge disparity and most of the black people that didn't make it in didn't have the support. Also for the scholarship me and my friends got, a hospital was trying to DIVERSIFY so they saw a problem and were willing to pay for it.

Lets not add to the fact that their are more black males in jail then in college so we need they need the help. I don't think you should just say well my kids don't look black or hispanic so I guess they won't need it. Being of another race is apart of their culture and its not like you are taking advantage because your kids ARE apart of that dreaded "checkbox". I have a friend who's GM is from Bolivia and GP is from Spain and she is half white and she looks it but she likes to be known as hispanic so that is what she checks, I mean she is isn't she? Gosh I did not mean to go on for so long
post #9 of 91
If there is not a multiracial box, I check other. I am not going to choose "either side" for the kids. They are AA, Lumbee, Blackfeet & Irish on one side and then German, Amish, Lumbee & who knows what else on the other side. (I'm adopted and I don't know much about either birth grandmother's side.)

We have been raising them to be multiracial. At young ages, they know what that means already. So if there is only 1 choice, it will be "other."
post #10 of 91
I check other because I feel uncomfortable getting benefits based on race alone. I think there should be affirmative action for ugly and fat people if we are going that route, not to mention for poor people. So I never check one box except other and if I check several, I also check "white" as we are part white. Same for my daughter.

I agree that there are reasons that we have affirmative action for people who are not white, and that it is legitimate, though it could be done better, but I don't feel that I qualify and I do feel that in my case, it would be taking advantage.
post #11 of 91
Thread Starter 
I feel that affirmative action should be based on economic status FIRST and then race. That way upper and upper-middle class black people who could get in any way wouldn't be filling up the quotas. My main beef with affirmative action is that I think people use it as an excuse not to deal with the sources of class inequality and lack of opportunity such as poor-quality elementary schools, lack of low-cost, high-quality preschools, and lack of parental involvement in education. Lack of maternity leave, marriage counseling, etc. It's cheaper and easier to just say, "Let them rot in horrible schools and broken neighborhoods for 12 years. We'll make it up to them later." If they were making a big effort in the beginning and then boosting the few who had fallen through the cracks later, I would be a bigger supporter of the program.

Quote:
OT I can't stand this good hair light skin mentality in the black community! What is the definition of "good" hair? What does that mean? That it is more white so its better than black nappy/kinky hair?
Oh my gosh! I'm soooo glad you brought this up! I really love kinky hair (I don't know; I guess I think it's cute) and I was complementing a cousin of mine on hers and she thought I was teasing her and got really upset. But it fits her so well. She had straightened it before and it looked strange that way. It looked so much better "natural".
And my nieces have very curly hair and my sister is always trying to "tame" it. I actually like it better a bit wild.
And then there's the whole "light skin" hang-up. What's up with that?

Quote:
Also for the scholarship me and my friends got, a hospital was trying to DIVERSIFY so they saw a problem and were willing to pay for it.
I'm for that type of voluntary affirmative action. I've been the beneficiary of that both because of my race and because of my gender. And in every case my peers were happy that I was included. A few states have stopped mandatory affirmative action and their universities and companies have continued the policy. Wasn't it Michigan State who said that a lot of their white students insist on a diverse campus?
And in the German companies I worked for the guys were grateful for every woman hired. They said it greatly improved the working environment. The only problem is that there is a complete dearth of female engineers.
post #12 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by VanessaS View Post
I feel that affirmative action should be based on economic status FIRST and then race. That way upper and upper-middle class black people who could get in any way wouldn't be filling up the quotas. My main beef with affirmative action is that I think people use it as an excuse not to deal with the sources of class inequality and lack of opportunity such as poor-quality elementary schools, lack of low-cost, high-quality preschools, and lack of parental involvement in education. Lack of maternity leave, marriage counseling, etc. It's cheaper and easier to just say, "Let them rot in horrible schools and broken neighborhoods for 12 years. We'll make it up to them later." If they were making a big effort in the beginning and then boosting the few who had fallen through the cracks later, I would be a bigger supporter of the program.
I agree but also affirmative action does help poor people, as I said some white friends I know where helped by affirmative action. I think all people who are disadvantaged should be help regardless of race but at the time affirmative action was needed was inacted it was needed for blacks because the government obviously saw a need for it.
I also don't think these parents think they are letting their children rot in horrible schools. They just see school as an all out good thing and sometimes when you don't have the finances to move to a better neighborhood with better schools. Some people just believe that no matter what school is a good thing for their kids whether the school is horrible or not. That type of ignorance is still alive.

Quote:
Oh my gosh! I'm soooo glad you brought this up! I really love kinky hair (I don't know; I guess I think it's cute) and I was complementing a cousin of mine on hers and she thought I was teasing her and got really upset. But it fits her so well. She had straightened it before and it looked strange that way. It looked so much better "natural".
And my nieces have very curly hair and my sister is always trying to "tame" it. I actually like it better a bit wild.
And then there's the whole "light skin" hang-up. What's up with that.
I think it was started in the black community as a way to deal with our self hate issues and if you look more white then it is "better". Some people still have this mentality and it is amazing but there is hope for the future to accept ourselves as we are. Just tell your cousin she is beautiful the way she was made. She should hopefully understand.
post #13 of 91
I've read this thread with great interest.

Just chiming in:
Regarding affirmative action, although I have some qualms about it, I strongly believe it's needed. People typically object to it because they adhere to a few myths:
1- aa is a free ride that allows an unqualified person to fill up a space. I've yet to meet a person who has benefited from aa programs who wasn't very well qualified for the position.
2- People like to believe that most jobs/seats/positions are always given to people based on merit. That's untrue. What about nepotism, fraternization, favoritism, nonracial discrimination, privilege, etc.?
Quote:
Originally Posted by futurmama8 View Post
I think it was started in the black community as a way to deal with our self hate issues and if you look more white then it is "better".
The belief that *whiter* is better- goes beyond the black community. It's also present in other communities (Hispanic, Asian, etc.).
Including in the "white" community itself.

There's lots of pressure to have blonde-haired/blue-eyed children even in some sectors in the "white" community. I've witnessed 2 of my "white" brunette/brown-eyed friends be disappointed if their children were born without these physical traits. (Mind you, perhaps it's also because both of my friends are 1st generation-Americans. And perhaps they just feel a great need to completely assimilate with other European-Americans who've been here for several generations.)

When their children were born, other people relentlessly expressed disappointment if they weren't blue-eyed/blondes.
"maybe the eyes will turn blue" "ah, well, maybe the next child will be blue-eyed" "Oh, let's hope that dark hair turns blonde"

When each of them later had a child with these traits, they were praised beyond belief.

I was dumbfounded to learn that for them, being "white" just wasn't good enough. It's so sad.
Honestly, here I always thought that this mentality existed only among the people of "color".
Of course, not that there's anything wrong with being blonde and blue-eyed. That's beautiful too.
But when a mother is made to feel like she let people down because those genes didn't turn up, it's just terrible.
Anyway, just wanted to share that.
post #14 of 91
Thread Starter 
Yeah, actually I've seen a lot of that with my white relatives. It's funny because mine are blond/blue and everyone is disappointed but my cousin (who is blond/blue herself) has two dark-eyed, dark-haired children and everybody was disappointed with her, as well. Isn't that funny?

Quote:
We have been raising them to be multiracial. At young ages, they know what that means already. So if there is only 1 choice, it will be "other."
I usually choose "other" if it's a choice, but if not I choose "black". For solidarity, I guess. And I figure, if the KKK would be disgusted by their existence than they're not white. My DH's take on that is: why should I let racists make up the rules? As Americans become more and more intermarried the racial identification is becoming a bit meaningless, isn't it? It's so confusing nowadays. My kids are 3/4 German and the other 1/4 is English (all of my black female ancestors had children with white men -- for obvious reasons , African, Japanese, and Cherokee. But I list them as "black". I find it confusing myself. More and more I'm just refusing to answer.

Hey, did you guys notice how they totally jumped on the President for referring to himself as a "mutt"? I do that all of the time myself, so I was a bit surprised at the reaction. I found it especially enlightening how they saw being a "mutt" as somehow demeaning in comparison to "pure bred". Interesting considering that mutts are generally more genetically fit than pure-bred dogs...
post #15 of 91
My youngest should "pass" for white, my oldest should too. I think they will both have white skin privilege. If a time came when they needed to click a box signifying their race, other or mixed is usually available, however I will be teaching them the importance of white skin privilege and hopefully they would not be inclined to click black or native, unless they significantly get darker, which seems unlikely at this point.
post #16 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by VanessaS View Post

Hey, did you guys notice how they totally jumped on the President for referring to himself as a "mutt"? I do that all of the time myself, so I was a bit surprised at the reaction. I found it especially enlightening how they saw being a "mutt" as somehow demeaning in comparison to "pure bred". Interesting considering that mutts are generally more genetically fit than pure-bred dogs...
Ugh, I hate the term mutt. Largely because I don't want to be compared to a dog. And I love dogs, REALLY REALLY love dogs, but as my son would say "I'm a human gir-il". It's fine if some people like it, but it's not the way I self identify and hopefully no one would identify me or my children as that. I think my concerns with that is that people will think "Hey Barack Obama said mutt, lets call people mutts!" and start applying it to whomever.

Now you've released my inner dog geek. Hybrid vigour (mutts being healthier than purebreds) isn't terribly applicable nowadays with dogs. Most breeds have a cross section of common inheritable diseases, so you could mate a Sheltie with a Great Dane and the dog could still have Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Hip Dysplasia, and deafness and blindness with a certain type of mating with those two breeds. I've come across plenty of mutts with inheritable diseases that are commonly ascribed to just purebreds.
post #17 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Ugh, I hate the term mutt. Largely because I don't want to be compared to a dog.
That's true. But it doesn't bother me. Probably because it's a term that's usually only used by mixed people talking about themselves. Everyone else says things like zebra, oreo, mulatto (mule in Spanish), etc. And I like it because it doesn't actually refer to race as in "mixed-race" but merely implies a diverse background. I've heard it used quite often by white people describing their ancestoral background.

Quote:
Hybrid vigour (mutts being healthier than purebreds) isn't terribly applicable nowadays with dogs.
Yes, but there are quite a few inheritable diseases that require the genetic marker to be present in each mate in order for the disease to manifest itself. Mutts are generally protected from those, although not always. And I suppose that a mutt from America mating with a mutt from Australia would be more genetically fit than a pure-bred American poodle mating with another pure-bred American poodle.
post #18 of 91
That's true. But it doesn't bother me. Probably because it's a term that's usually only used by mixed people talking about themselves. Everyone else says things like zebra, oreo, mulatto (mule in Spanish), etc. And I like it because it doesn't actually refer to race as in "mixed-race" but merely implies a diverse background. I've heard it used quite often by white people describing their ancestoral background.


Sorry, can't multiquote. I have no problems with how other folks wish to identify themselves, it's totally cool, just don't call me mutt. Most of the multiracial (heck multiethnic!) people I know (maybe it's different in Toronto) will go to great lengths to list every sort of racial background they have. Oreo isn't terribly common unless derogatory. Usually only older people say mulatto. I haven't heard zebra since the Jeffersons (love it!) My mom goes to great lengths talking about her Irish/Francophone/Ukrainian background. For brevity though, a lot of people will just say mixed.


Yes, but there are quite a few inheritable diseases that require the genetic marker to be present in each mate in order for the disease to manifest itself. Mutts are generally protected from those, although not always. And I suppose that a mutt from America mating with a mutt from Australia would be more genetically fit than a pure-bred American poodle mating with another pure-bred American poodle.

See, this is my point. There are so many common diseases, that a Sheltie and a Great Dane can both carry Hip Dysplasia. They can both be a certain colour, that when mated together can produce serious health issues for the puppies. Dogs, no matter the breed are the same species, many of whom have common recent (like 50-100 years, but recent enough) ancestors and there will usually be some serious overlapping with genes. So it's fairly easy for an Australian Mutt and an American Mutt to breed and produce puppies with Hip Dysplasia or Hemophaelia. Anyhow, more than anyone wants to know, I'm sure. lol
post #19 of 91
Thread Starter 
I bet it is different in Toronto! I come from the dirty South where the one-drop rule still stands. But it's just barely hanging on there as more and more "white" people are discovering black ancestors.

That's interesting about the dogs.
post #20 of 91
I'm in a similar situation--my mother's family are mixed hispanic/AA, and my father is from Pakistan. I've benefited tremendously from checking ALL the boxes in recent years--just finished an art history degree, and I won't deny that I got a lot of help from programs and scholarships (it didn't hurt that I was at a REALLY family-friendly school).

However, for my kids I'm not so sure. Both my ex-BF (father of my eldest) and my DH are white. My eldest, however, looks "ethnic" (God, I hate that term) while my other kids really don't. I'm not sure what will happen when we get to the point of filling in forms for scholarships. On forms for general info, I just put "multi-racial" and do not elaborate.
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