Paper Assignment 1
Race/Ethnicity: Checkmark Other
Could it really be that simple? My racial identity summarized to only a box labeled “other”. Is my racial identity not worthy enough to be labeled correctly, like the other dominants [African American, White, Pacific Islander]—it appears not. With the constantly constant habits that society has developed to label people in categories, as if it’s a chore easily done, when in retrospect, race and identity is so much more complex. It’s like picking only one word in the universe to describe you; yeah you can pick a word, but is it completely accurate? Would that word represent you in 5 years, 10 years, or in 2 days? Same goes for race and ethnicity… is it really only one word that can accurately represent you and me? I would it is impossible. What race or ethnicity is completely pure, let alone accurate, and if not, why categorize us into categories with “others”? Is there some power into categorization or just pressure to conform to that labeled box? Checkmarks and boxes on surveys and questionnaires should have no place in society or value in representing racial identities. Those small iconic boxes have always plagued my life since the beginning of my education, but I did not understand the full importance of it until I took my SAT. It is then that I finally understood the pressure placed upon me to pick right now from the list offered on what I wanted to call myself. Are you Black/African American? Well, more African thanks to my Nigerian mother but I was born in America—and more brown, if we going off colors. Are you Native American? Well I have some Cherokee in me, but Native Americans are not taken seriously, so would I? Are you Spanish, Hispanic or Latino? Well I speak Spanish and have a Puerto Rican father, so can I be all three, or is one more pure? Honestly, it’s all so damn confusing. Can’t there just be a combination category for Nigerian, Puerto Rican, and Cherokee American? No, and since I didn’t bring a pedigree chart and can only bubble one, I’m going with “Other” since “I prefer not to answer” sounds stuck up. It’s already stressful that I am about to start a test that will determine the beginning of my college experience, but now I am partaking in a test I didn’t even know about, and can someone explain the importance in knowing who is about to take this “precious” exam. Am I getting graded differently, or easier? Awesome, I think—only if it’s beneficial right? But then the argument of affirmative action and “charitable” needs arises. Is it so crucial that every move I make in life needs to have a checkmark of what I “am” next to it? Why is my ethnicity my anchor? I feel these are the questions an individual of any racial identity needs to question and change. Hopefully, next time I fill out a questionnaire at the doctor office or take a survey after I get off the phone with Sprint, I wish they don’t ask for my racial identity, but instead thank me for completing their survey. If H.G. Wells is right, that “Our true nationality is mankind”, then it holds so much meaning because at the end of the day, aren’t we are all man—human. We are all simply humans, essentially with two arms, two legs, one heart, and breathe in the same air supply. Why is that not an option instead? Are we scared that it might cause an uprising? Or will it be thrown away as a social taboo? Isn’t “mankind” a category we can all agree to checkmark wholeheartedly, accurately and pure of falseness? I would. Mankind sounds so much better than “I prefer not to answer” or “Other”.
“Drop the checkmark boxes, ban the statistics, and promote the individual’s own representation of self, just three aspects that I will change when I rule the world” Victoria Broussard