Welcome to Seattle Public Schools. What race are you?

by Sharon H Chang


Enrolling your child in Seattle Public Schools means choosing their race and ethnicity from a confounding list of checkboxes.

“This is the first time I’ve seen a form that’s so specific and yet not specific enough,” she criticized, “My reaction at first was amused — as in, ‘Oh, Seattle!’ — and then kind of offended.”

“If we’re going to list separate countries, why not also list Bangladesh and Sri Lanka?” She also questioned “African American/Black” being designated as a single category given that our region represents large communities of Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Somalis.

Then look how choices are grouped. “African-American/Black” (as Gupte observes) but also “White” are weirdly devoid of subcategories.


Continue reading…

Source: seattleglobalist.com

Thank you for sharing Sharon H Chang!
When my daughter started kindergarten I asked what happens if I do not complete the race question. I was told the teacher will complete the question for me.
At that time, one check box was allowed. My daughter is being counted as Latina – now in 5th grade.
My son will be counted as both Latino and White. Now we are allowed to check more than one box.
Some reporting recalculates people’s race based on the social construct of hypodescent, so when we read the student’s test scores broken down by race, I still do not know how accurate that data is.
Plus, wouldn’t it also be valuable to report test scores by zip code? Then we could add a library in zip codes that need it most.

200 Years of U.S. Immigration, in 1 Colorful Infographic

By Tanvi Misra

In 1819, Congress passed a law requiring that the arrival of all immigrants be recorded. Immigrant workers were needed, and the rest of the 19th century saw their numbers grow. From that period through today, America has seen waves of immigration, which Natalia Bronshtein has captured in a colorful interactive graphic.

Continue reading…

Source: communityvillageus.blogspot.com

What I Am Is Tired of You Asking What I Am

Once at work I was approached by a couple of older white men. I greeted them with the usual “Hello, how can I help you?” to which one of them paused before asking, “Where are you from?”

Tight-lipped but cheerily I answered, “I live in Sunnyvale not too far away from here.” The two men looked at each other and the bald one tried again, “But where are you really from?” to which I answered with “Well, I was born and raised in San Jose but I moved here for middle school. Now what can I get you today?” They were persistent and kept at it: “But what are you?” and so on as I smiled my customer service smile and completed their order so I could get to the next customer.

These experiences are not limited to strangers, but also by young children I come across, classmates, and coworkers alike. It’s more than understandable that these types of questions are rooted in good intentions and may simply represent misplaced curiosity. At the same time, though, questions such as these imply many things for someone who has heard them countless times.

“What are you?”

This is very likely the worst possible thing you could ask a person. Pose your question like an educated adult if you are asking for such personal information. When you ask like this, you are expressing amusement or curiosity over someone, or something, that seems novel to you. It communicates that the person you’re asking is fundamentally different than you. It is also a question that comes from a position of privilege, as you are demanding an answer from someone who may not fit your norm of what people should appear like.

Think of it this way: you wouldn’t ask this question if you were asking someone what breed their dog was. If you asked, “What is it?” the owner would respond “It’s a dog” as appropriate. When you ask the owner, “What breed is it?” you’re more likely to get the answer you’re looking for: “It’s a collie-corgi mix.” People like to think they are more than dogs, so frame your questions appropriately and specifically.

“Where are you from?”

A question like this may as well be asking, “Where are your skin color and facial features from? Because it can’t be from here!” It’s something that implies a person is from here, and that the person you’re asking is less American than you or doesn’t belong here as much as a blue-eyed, pale-skinned person does.

Furthermore, nationality is not the same thing as ethnicity. When thinking about where one is from, one will typically think of what town they grew up in. Oftentimes, however, providing this information is hardly enough for the inquirer.

“No, where are you really from?”

On the surface, this might seem like an innocent appended inflection to the original question in order to convey a more distinct meaning. It’s a waggling eyebrow of sorts, a roll of the eyes that says, “Oh, you know what I mean. Just tell me” as if the person you’re asking is keeping a great secret or is being unreasonably dodgy with information you’re entitled to.

Here it’s clear you are demanding a change in an answer you were not happy with. People don’t like having their worldview challenged. When I told the customer I was from Sunnyvale, I guarantee he was clearly expecting an answer more along the lines of “China” or “Thailand”.  I knew that, and he knew that.

With this question, you’re trying to see how people of color fit against your own knowledge of what they appear to look like, and that’s not okay. You’re subjecting an individual to a form of objectification for your own viewing pleasure. A person may say, “I’m from Texas” as the asker shakes their head and repeats the question with emphasis in order to just understand where that dark hair and brown skin came from.

Similarly, sometimes the person who’s asking will go straight to the point and ask, “What kind of Asian are you?” or “You must be Filipina!” The thing is, no one wants to play your game of arguing ethnicity. Oftentimes a question like this is followed by a verification of a stereotype. Examples of things educated, older, people a combination of both would tell me: “You can’t be Vietnamese, your eyes look too big,” “You must be Vietnamese, your skin is too dark for you to be Chinese,” or even “Oh, that was my second guess. I can’t tell the difference between all you Asian people!”

Me neither. The reason is because “Asian” is an incredibly broad term. Your stereotype-laden questions homogenize a vast continent’s worth of individuals, all with variations. China alone has over 50 different minority variations. There is no such thing as being able to tell what a typical Asian person looks like.

All of these women are Asian, yet they all look distinctly different. “Asian” is an extremely broad term and there is not necessarily any one way of determining someone’s ethnicity from their appearance. Attempting to do so is a blatant use of stereotyping.

“Why are you so offended?”

Inquirers can often become agitated when they are checked for their questions and do not receive a direct answer, or do receive an answer that fails to satisfy their curiosity.

I’ve read several other articles on this issue and like to scroll through the comments sections by people defending their “curiosity”. Most of these people assert that they never meant to step on anyone else’s toes, that there’s no way they could possibly know how sensitive a question is going to be to someone else, and finally that people of color should take these opportunities as teaching moments instead of getting angry.

No one owes you a lesson or an answer to an ignorant, rude, or insensitive question. You need to take responsibility for the way you pose personal questions, and take backlash with grace. Have that mistake be your own teaching moment.

Things to realize

These questions are poorly worded at best. They reinforce the idea that white is the default to being American, and that everyone else is a foreigner. That’s a pretty limited worldview and is insensitive to those who identify strongly with American culture and this country.

A question can be inherently good, as stated earlier, but having an anticipated answer in the back of your head is very possibly bad. This results in pressing people of color for more information they may be willing to share just because their initial answer wasn’t sufficient enough. It’s an example of privilege, because privilege means you don’t like being told you’re wrong because you can’t possibly be wrong.

Creating an open dialogue about race relations and your curiosity can help foster stronger connections and a better understanding all around.

Note also that these can be sensitive for reasons deeper than the irritation of being asked the same questions over and over again. Regarding nationality, some people are not from the same country that their ancestors were originally from. People can be born in Mexico even if their parents are originally from Albania and later move to the U.S. A white-passing person may have been born in Korea and have lived for less time in America than a third-generation Korean-American classmate. Furthermore, prying into details of ethnicity can be a touchy subject for those who may not entirely know the answer due to an unconventional relationship between their parents, and it can be genuinely difficult for them to share details of their background.  Understand that this subject is not necessarily something everyone will want to be completely open about.

How to do better with your curiosity

First tip: just don’t ask. People will volunteer the information on their own time if you are able to build a good enough relationship with them. Questions regarding ethnicity, or nationality, will almost always be irrelevant if the person is a complete stranger.

On that note, think about the context of wanting to ask. How well do you actually know this person? Are you having a discussion about heritage or are you making small talk? Based on how much you know this person, how do you think this kind of personal question would make them feel? Most importantly, why do you ask and what are your motivations?

If you do in fact feel that the question you have in mind is appropriate for the person and the situation, just be direct. Don’t use any of the bolded questions in this post. Get to the point, and make it clear what you want to know and why: “Out of curiosity, if you don’t mind me asking, what’s your ethnicity?” Be sure that your question gives the person you’re asking a way out if they feel uncomfortable. Most likely, though, they will be more than happy to tell you all about your roots. Just be transparent in your intentions.

At the same time, be prepared for a complicated answer, or even a disappointing one. Don’t press for more information than the person is willing to provide. Some people may not know everything you are looking for, and some people may have lived here for eight generations. Not everyone has an exotic or exciting backstory. We’re just as American as you.



Garcelle Beauvais: ‘Diversity should be celebrated’

Community Village‘s insight:

TOO DARK to be white, too light to be black. It’s just one of the negative cliché’s history has leveled at mixed race people, reminding them they don’t ‘belong’ to either side.

See on www.voice-online.co.uk

Black, White or Red – Changing Colors

See on Scoop.itMixed American Life

* According to Ancestry.com, the average African American is 65 percent sub-Saharan African, 29 percent European and 2 percent Native American.

* According to 23andme.com, the average African American is 75 percent sub-Saharan African, 22 percent European and only 0.6 percent Native American.

* According to Family Tree DNA.com, the average African American is 72.95 percent sub-Saharan African, 22.83 percent European and 1.7 percent Native American.

* According to National Geographic’s Genographic Project, the average African American is 80 percent sub-Saharan African, 19 percent European and 1 percent Native American.

See on nativeheritageproject.com

Intersections as American Life: Smithsonian Asian-Latino Festival 2013

See on Scoop.itMixed American Life

To celebrate the cultural intersections of Asian and Latino cultures, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Latino Center have collaborated to bring you public talks, pop-up museums, and digital exhibitions.

Community Village‘s insight:

Special thanks to Thomas Lopez of Latinas and Latinos of Mixed Ancestry (LOMA)!

See on apa.si.edu


See on Scoop.itCommunity Village Daily

Ethnic is a Eurocentric way of saying non-Western. In America since the 1920s it has meant something not part of White American culture: ethnic foods, ethnic beauty, ethnic neighbourhoods, etc. “Et…

Community Village‘s insight:

Part of Mixed American Life is recognizing that EVERYONE has an ethnic background.

See on abagond.wordpress.com

Results from the 2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment

See on Scoop.itMixed American Life

Three 2010 trial census forms:

* Detailed

* Streamlined

* Very Streamlined

Community Village‘s insight:

I wish the races where in alphabetical order so American Indian would be on top followed by Asian and Black; and White would be at the bottom.

Cracks me up that Spanish origin people are not steared toward the White box.

I love that all groups are prompted to write in their ethnic heritage.

I love the new ‘Asian Indian’ check box.

I like all of these proposals better than the 2010 census that I filled out.

See on www.mixedracestudies.org

American ethnic groups | Abagond

See on Scoop.itMixed American Life

An American ethnic group in most cases means those in America from the same country. Italian Americans, Irish Americans, etc. There are a few groups that do not quite fit that pattern: Jews, Puerto Ricans and African Americans. Another odd case are those who call themselves “Americans”. They mostly live in the upper South. I will count them as British since that seems to be what most are.

The top ten ethnic groups by size in 2010…

See on abagond.wordpress.com

Speaking Latina: Race v. Ethnicity

Via Scoop.itMixed American Life

“I asked the teacher where I would have had to sit in the bus. And because God has always used humor to teach me, a classmate answered, “In the middle.” People laughed of course, but the teacher (who I am pretty sure giggled as well) told me I would most likely have to sit in the rear of the bus. It was then that I learned about blacks with very light complexions passing for white, which only fueled my curiosity.”

Via blog.nuyoriquena.com