People of mixed race are ignored. It’s time to acknowledge our identity and insights.
Shorter: the last society to reduce the diversity, richness and complexity of humanity to a few color codes ended up with yellow sew patches and starting a world war that killed 80 million. My point is the reductionism you are highlighting is far more sinister than you might give it credit for and there should be little place for it in enlightened society.
I think Obama's point that it is how you are "done" by others as a function of how they see you is a powerful part of one's identity and that those others include your family and community. Although race is a social construction, it is a powerful social construction that has real outcomes on what is expected of us and allowed to us. It is, therefore, more than race or self-designation of race, it is what being that race means in your community. My sons are biracial. Although they both own their mixed-heritage, the way they look recruits different reactions in their community and which communities of race open up to them. As the percentage of mixed people grow, it will be interesting to see how community expectations change. It is complicated.
First we battle to stop outside judgement based on skin color, now we must do battle to stop inside judgement based on ones skin color. Strangely it seems the original war against 'racism' may have been more easily won than the war that must be fought internally to free ourselves from 'anti-racism'.
Great article! Thank you.
So let's talk about cultural bi's too. The contemporary cultural presumption that if you are not biracial or brown you are white is fundamentally flawed, and in fact physically dangerous for those of us who have "difficult" religions or are of mixed religious heritage. Let me tell you a story to illustrate:
Before COVID I taught CCD at my church in rural Pa. I had an orthodox Jewish mother and an Italian Roman Catholic Father. I am a Jewish convert to Catholicism for theological reasons, but I still identify as Jewish. Many of my CCD students would say relatively awful things unknowingly about Judaism. And I never reacted since I wanted to know them, and what may be the source. My co-teacher, one day said she was unofficially Jewish; she is not, but since I had taken my first communion with her she wanted me to feel included. Honestly it was more embarrassing than helpful. But she is good woman: kind, uneducated and volunteers tremendous amounts. Then one day I was teaching one boy about the relationship between the Jewish 10 Commandments and the Catholic 9 Beatitudes and comparing these to Aristotle's golden virtues. (All in very simple language for a 6th grader.) Not knowing my background he confided to me that he hated Jews. I asked him why. He said they are bad and his parents told him they steal. I said, "Well I like you, and I am Jewish." He comes from a relatively poor rural blended and re-blended family, pretty cliche and sad, and they likely receive charity from the church. After that he disappeared from CCD. The point is he had never met a Jewish man before, and he and I learned quite a bit together. This boy's white Trumpist father is like a mountain, enormous, tall, laconic and seething. I am sure he was struggling to make ends meet. He would never look at me again after that. Catholic or not I was a Jew, and his boy wouldn't be taking any more CCD with Jews.
Data does not have to be 100% accurate to be useful.
In the past, census data was collected face to face.
Now it is done mostly by mail or online, so self-reported.
This may produce minor discrepancies, but nothing major. An approximation is good enough for most purposes.
In the past, there would have been a lot fewer biracial or mixed race individuals than now.
So many issues.
1. Of what value is racial data collected by census if it is assigned or if it is self-reported? Either way, it would seem pretty compromised as data. Even worse, the definition of the data element changing over time, without those changes being incorporated into the use of the data is worse than having no data at all.
2. I have always been uncomfortable with the degree to which priority is assigned (by some) on what the perception of others is to one's sense of identity. One would never counsel one's child to base their self-esteem on what their peers thought of them. This is antithetical to the notion of self-esteem. If one is possessed of self-esteem, of what relevance are the perceptual variances of one's peers, or of society writ large?
3. Don't kid yourself. The notion of gravity was indeed imagined and to a large extent still is. It is one of the lesser understood phenomena in nature. As with the analysis of all such phenomena, the first step is indeed to imagine.