What race do you mark on government forms? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 01:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am confused by what race to mark on medical/government forms.

I am white. Daughter is "mixed" Her father is black. She is dark skinned.

Part of me wants to put white just bc that is what I put.
Part of me wants to put black to put her in line for scholarships later on ( is that wrong?)
Part of me wonders why it is a big deal, why do they need to know.
Part of me says screw it an leave it blank.

How do you handle this?
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#2 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 02:43 AM
 
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she is black, and will probably be treated that way in the US

she is definitely not white.

i would put black---or if you are really uncomfortable about that, you could put biracial
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#3 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 08:37 AM
 
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I usually mark both boxes (I am hispanic, DH white). Until the goverment catches on and makes a box for biracial or simply stops asking, I figure I would go for accuracy and mark both boxes...
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#4 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 10:01 AM
 
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You can certainly choose whatever you and your daughter feel bests suits your family. However, it is my experience that people are perceived based on how they look. My cousin is biracial--dad white, mom black. She is brown skinned and the only indication that she might be of biracial heritage is her very long, straight hair. Everyone assumes she is black and she is treated accordingly. Her sister is extremely light-skinned with hair characteristic of European heritage. It is always assumed that she is something other than black. Right or wrong, that is the society we live in.

I have heard white friends who children are biracial state they don't want their children to be discriminated against so they choose "white" as their race. My experience has been that people are judged based on how they look rather than what is written in a form.

Again, we live in such a race conscious society, it shouldn't matter but it does.

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#5 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 10:38 AM
 
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I mark both, or if there is an "other" I'll write in black and white. My son definately looks more black than white (although people usually assume he's hispanic). I would say do what feels right for you. Yes society views kids like ours as black but that doesn't mean that you have to mark that. If you do choose to mark white and your child(ren) look more black be prepared for the weird looks.

As far as scholarships go, it won't matter if you mark bi-racial, black, black and white. As long as you have a minority somewhere in your hertiage it will count. I have a friend that is about 4 different nationalities and was able to get scholarships for each one.
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#6 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 11:23 AM
 
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You could mark other or just leave it blank. I think they mostly do that for surveys and statistical purposes and you don't really need to include it if you don't want to. The rules for that might be different for different forms, but that was what I was always told.

You might want to change the title of this thread, though. When I read it, I thought you meant "put down" as insult or look down on. Just a thought.
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#7 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 11:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by acannon View Post
You might want to change the title of this thread, though. When I read it, I thought you meant "put down" as insult or look down on. Just a thought.
Yes me too! I saw it on the main page & came in to read it 'cause it sounded like such a controversial question!
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#8 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 03:53 PM
 
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...and what box are middle easterners or south asians supposed to check?
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#9 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 04:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Absinthia View Post
...and what box are middle easterners or south asians supposed to check?
:

I wonder that all the time. DH is Turkish, born on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, also known as Asia Minor. Does that make him white, asian, something else? And what about our son? He's blonde and blue-eyed, so could be 100% white, but he's not.
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#10 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 07:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Absinthia View Post
...and what box are middle easterners or south asians supposed to check?
This is the first time posting in this forum. I'm so happy that it's finally here before I have children. I have lots to learn..

As for your question Absinthia, middle easterners are considered "white" by the USA even if they look obviously African (as in the case of northern Africans, never could wrap my head around that one...). South Asians are considered Asian in the US as well. I know weird. I remember when I was very small and because I had a foreign name (my father is Nigerian and my mother is African American mix-of-a-bunch-of-ethnic-groups) and I had more keen features like my straight nose I was put down as "white" because they thought that I was Egyptian. My mother definitely corrected them and said that I'm Human, but if they wanted to put a designation on me that I shouldn't be considered "white".

I'm so new to this because my DH is white (all Eastern European, Hungarian, Polish, Croatian 4th Generation). I've always felt that as I grew up to identify with both my Yoruba and American roots (that includes the Choctaw GGrandmother was born and raised on the reservation, her father was white), I would expect my children to identify with both as well. I know that society wants to put our children in boxes to make them feel comfortable, but I would be hurt to my core if any of my children chose to deny either me or their father.

I wouldn't check any boxes at all and if I had to fill one in, I'd write HUMAN. I also like the idea of checking both the boxes or checking other.

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#11 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 07:42 PM
 
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I am bi-racial, my mother is white and my father black. I always check both, unless it says "check only one", then I put other or whatever will benefit me the most. (educational or grant related, I check black. General info. I put white, so I am less discriminated against). I look like I am of European decent, and many people think I'm either white with a tan or of European. Since I married my husband, who is hispanic, it is often assumed that I am hispanic since I have taken his last name. This never ever happened when my maiden name was ******. People even sometimes come up to me and start speaking spanish, and I'm like huh? Well, my kids are 4 races. 1/4 each of Black, White, Hispanic, and Mexican Indian Heritage. I try to follow the same thing I mentioned above, but..sometimes people get a little annoyed when I check 4 boxes LOL. So I usually end up putting Hispanic or Other. Check my link below for a picture of my daughter - what race do you think she looks more of??
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#12 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 09:30 PM
 
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I also check both, or sometimes Other for my kids.
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#13 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 09:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by my2kidz View Post
I am bi-racial, my mother is white and my father black. I always check both, unless it says "check only one", then I put other or whatever will benefit me the most. (educational or grant related, I check black. General info. I put white, so I am less discriminated against). I look like I am of European decent, and many people think I'm either white with a tan or of European. Since I married my husband, who is hispanic, it is often assumed that I am hispanic since I have taken his last name. This never ever happened when my maiden name was ******. People even sometimes come up to me and start speaking spanish, and I'm like huh? Well, my kids are 4 races. 1/4 each of Black, White, Hispanic, and Mexican Indian Heritage. I try to follow the same thing I mentioned above, but..sometimes people get a little annoyed when I check 4 boxes LOL. So I usually end up putting Hispanic or Other. Check my link below for a picture of my daughter - what race do you think she looks more of??
hmm.. she probably looks latina and of Indian heritage to me.
I usually put other for myself and dd. since I'm multiracial myself, and cannot see putting down white for being half arab and half somalian, I put other in both of our boxes. dd is half white too so I don't feel comfortable leaving anyone out.

our pics are in my siggy too. People usually assume I'm latina or East Indian too!

Mama to a 3.5 yo dd
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#14 of 65 Old 03-24-2008, 09:41 PM
 
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I usually see a box that says "other" on most forms, sometimes the say "check all that apply." Sometimes there are around a dozen options. They pretty much always say "you can leave it blank if you want to."

The question is asked for different reasons by different groups. Medical questionaires usually ask b/c certain illness are much more common in some racial groups than others. Well known ones: are sicklecell amongst people of africa decent; favaism amongstpeople of southern asian and meditererainian decent; celiac amongst people of irish and italian decent. There are many less well known ones too. So on medical forms it is important too list all heritage.

On many forms especially the governments forms and surveys it is for statistical purposes.

Places like schools will ask in an attemped to ensure racial diversity. Though since affirmative-action has been abolished it doesn't make much difference what race you put down.

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#15 of 65 Old 03-25-2008, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The medical forms I can understand....somewhat.

Most diseases that are limited to a certian group of people, need both parents to come from that ethnic group. Yet another good reason to cross multiple.

So dark skinned is always black is what I am seeing. I have been marking her as such but feel slightly off for doing so.
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#16 of 65 Old 03-25-2008, 12:04 PM
 
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It's my understanding that all gov't (fed, state and local - ie schools, etc) must allow you to check all that apply. So, that's what I'd do.
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#17 of 65 Old 03-25-2008, 12:10 PM
 
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I'm hispanic so that's what I check but my kids are caucasian/hispanic but look predominately caucasian and have an Irish last name so I check white for them.

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#18 of 65 Old 03-25-2008, 01:06 PM
 
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As a half Korean and half Black woman, I check "other" or nothing at all.
My DH is Scottish and Turkish.
I assume my DS will also be "other".

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#19 of 65 Old 03-25-2008, 01:19 PM
 
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The title caught my eye. I'm a European mutt and I like to write in German, Danish, Irish, Dutch, English, French. I like to mess with them. And then the form comes back: white.

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#20 of 65 Old 03-25-2008, 01:33 PM
 
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I check all that apply, regardless of whether it says "check only one". The implication that I can only identify with one background bothers me. The only exception is for electronic forms which only allow you to click one box--in that case I'd pick "other".

I'm white, Asian, and Native Indian. A couple of years ago I filled out the Canadian census forms, and you could select as many backgrounds as applied, but not if you were First Nations. You could only declare yourself as First Nations OR whatever other mix of backgrounds, but not both. I was SO mad.

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#21 of 65 Old 03-25-2008, 01:40 PM
 
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hmm.. she probably looks latina and of Indian heritage to me.
I usually put other for myself and dd. since I'm multiracial myself, and cannot see putting down white for being half arab and half somalian, I put other in both of our boxes. dd is half white too so I don't feel comfortable leaving anyone out.

our pics are in my siggy too. People usually assume I'm latina or East Indian too!
I just wanted to say that you and your dd are absolutely gorgeous! My DD used to have curls like that when she was younger, now that she's older she has wavy curls.
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#22 of 65 Old 03-25-2008, 04:43 PM
 
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This is the first time posting in this forum. I'm so happy that it's finally here before I have children. I have lots to learn..

As for your question Absinthia, middle easterners are considered "white" by the USA even if they look obviously African (as in the case of northern Africans, never could wrap my head around that one...). South Asians are considered Asian in the US as well. I know weird. I remember when I was very small and because I had a foreign name (my father is Nigerian and my mother is African American mix-of-a-bunch-of-ethnic-groups) and I had more keen features like my straight nose I was put down as "white" because they thought that I was Egyptian. My mother definitely corrected them and said that I'm Human, but if they wanted to put a designation on me that I shouldn't be considered "white". .
So where is the line drawn, when is it Asia and when the Middle East? Pakistan? Iran? Israel?
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#23 of 65 Old 03-26-2008, 03:17 AM
 
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I always hated that most of the time, it would say "White (non-hispanic)" instead of just "White." I always felt like I was specifically excluding a significant part of my family, but I didn't feel like I could really identify as "Hispanic" either. What a PITA.

As for the Middle Eastern = White thing, my ex was Palestinian and was applying for jobs shortly after 9/11. One application had an option form for things like sex, race, etc. specifically related to discrimination. We were both really annoyed that he was considered "white" for descrimination purposes at a time when he was getting a lot of crap for being an Arab. His obviously Arab name and Arab appearance had no way of being reflected on the stupid form.

It's all BS anyway.
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#24 of 65 Old 03-26-2008, 02:08 PM
 
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I put "other", my kids are black and white, but do look more "white" and people assume they are white (maybe mixed with some latino or something). In the past I put whatever I feel like that day- at my kids school they have so many biracial children that they actually have a "Biracial" selection you can choose and I do that.

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#25 of 65 Old 03-27-2008, 01:56 PM
 
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I either check Biracial, or write it in; or if that's not an option, I check both black and white. I would not feel comfortable checking only one box, because that would be denying either one of us--the kids are both.
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#26 of 65 Old 03-28-2008, 11:03 PM
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On dd's is bi/multi-racial. I checked black at birth because that is how she would be viewed by society. On nearly every form since, I check other if I can't check multiple boxes. It's a point of irritation not to be able to check all she is :
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#27 of 65 Old 03-28-2008, 11:30 PM
 
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I've been checking all that apply, too, but I think that some of the underlying themes in the boxes are disturbing. I'm white and dh is east african. Our kids look east african or Indian. Dh has called them african american, and I've felt that the white part should be in there, too. African american, yes. Black, partly.

But then I thought about what blackness means in america. It is a very inclusive group, encompassing everyone from light to dark skin, light to dark hair, eyes... Most african americans are of mixed heritage.

And then what does white mean? What is represented in white? There are quite a few different colors of hair in there, but could my daughters ever be white? Is white ever diverse enough to include people who are mixed?

This thread really doesn't need to "go there", but this has been on my mind lately.
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#28 of 65 Old 03-28-2008, 11:35 PM
 
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I make my own box for race and mark it;

Human [x],

or I write in, "Who the He77 wants to know?"

Honestly, if the government is going to take stats like that, it means that they plan to treat people differently, and that should never even be considered in a country in which every one is supposed to be free. .

So maybe we are not free? Or are some freer than others?

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#29 of 65 Old 03-31-2008, 01:16 PM
 
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#30 of 65 Old 04-01-2008, 03:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kavitha View Post
she is black, and will probably be treated that way in the US

she is definitely not white.

i would put black---or if you are really uncomfortable about that, you could put biracial

EXCUSE ME? maybe it's just late and i'm taking this the wrong way, but did you really just say that "she's black", and "definitely not white", based on a simple description of her parents' race? since when are we back to the 'one drop rule'? her race classification is a personal decision that she will end up making throughout her lifetime based on what she identifies with. to her, that may be black... or white, or multiracial, or none of the above.

ugh, i'm sorry, it just reeks of jim crow sentiment.

which reminds me of this quote-- "The United States is the only country in the world in which a white mother can have a black child but a black mother cannot have a white child."

please don't take this as an attack-- i'm sure you meant well. it's just something i feel very strongly about.

-K
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