Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Race Mixing?

Now that I have your attention...

I have a question for you, dear reader.

First some quick background: I've been working on an essay (it started as a blog draft, but after awhile it was too serious a subject to just whip off as a blog topic) on labels. You know, like we affix onto people. Like, Black, European, Asian-Pacific, Native-American...

But specifically, the label I have been centered on is "mixed-race". This category struck me while filling out a form for Robert for a Fairfax County school program. It had always been there but we never got past the African-American box as Sheila agreed with me that that is how we would consider our children. (In case you missed it Sheila is Irish-American, another label, huh? Me? I check the AA box even though some consider me 'mixed' given my family background.))

So right now what interests me most is your take on this. Doesn't matter if your comment is short or long. I promise to present what I've written to this point as it is (ya knows I have some strong opinions in this area, don't you?) but I want to hear, and perhaps be influenced by, your thoughts on the matter.

I know, I know, I'm leaving this very open ended and haven't given you any parameters. But that's just it. There are some of us, that would be me anyway, that spend time alternating between what appears to be two main positions on this (no, I am not going to say what I think those positions are!), and some that feel very strongly on a particular position.

I've decided not to be flippant about this, and I've also decided that this is an issue I want to invite others to more actively participate in. I have no doubt that several of you will jump in. I promise not to use your names if you don't want me to.

I also promise to treat your feedback carefully and consider it fully. You all are important not only to me but to my children who will have to live in a world that still confers, fairly or not, labels on souls still young and beautifully ignorant of the pain some names can cause.

So, either post them here in the comments section or email me directly. I promise to gather them and publish the installment ASAP

Next up, after "Labels": who knows what'll strike me next?


Anonymous said...

Very thought provoking topic: people often identify themselves by these "labels". Here's another one for the mix -- I think of myself as a Jewish American (just don't call me a J.A.P). I know, I know! I'm adding another dimension, religion, in the same breath. This is one that you won't see as an option on those forms. I'm sometimes confused with the importance of this "labeling". What would happen if the only option on the form was Person. I guess we would all have to answer ..... Yes. Wouldn't that put everyone on the same playing field?! I don't know, maybe we're all individually the same...but different.

am said...

well chuck, I have to respectively disagree (as usuall). We too are a "mixed-race" family but choose not to label our kids as we know that labelling follows them throughout life. We want our kids to succeed not because of the handouts(i.e.,aa) they may be given as minorities but as human beings who have all they need in life to succeed (i.e., loving parents). - AM

Barbra said...

I agree with "am" to a degree; that being that people should succeed as human beings, not a lable. But, on the other hand, I think you are teaching your children to be proud of who they are. They are african american (maybe only half, but still). Nothing makes me happier than hearing Jarod say that he feels unique and special being the only jewish kid in his class. While I've never been embarrassed by it, I'm not naive enough to not realize that we live in a world where not everyone is respectful of differences. I think they should be embraced and recognized in a positive way. I ramble.

Chuck said...

Keep 'em coming folks. I thank those of you responding directly to me via email as well.

There's a lot of 'stuff' to consider and I really appreciate your feedback!

Jean-Yves said...

Hi Chuck,

Long time no see.
Interesting topic, indeed. I've always been wondering how much damage such labeling does. And, with all due respect, I've been just as suspicious of the politically correct labeling, e.g., african american. How do you label, for exemple, a mixed race american of brazilian origin? What if they are of a "white" brazilian origin? My point is: how are these labels helpful, if at all? Who do they help, if anyone? Is this information that should be kept by government agencies, even for demographic or statistical purposes? In my country (France) we don't ask such information, which I think is better. But,as we know from recent events in France, this doesn't mean that we have no racial or integration issues. So, from my point of view, not having labels doesn't make the issues disappear, but having them "in the system" (e.g., on government forms) can only make matters worse or, at least, needlessly complicate them.