Friday, November 6, 2009

Stop Calling Me White

"What nationality are you?”

As the world becomes a smaller and more mixed place, answering this question becomes increasingly difficult.

One couple I know are an excellent example. He is African American and Native American Indian. She is Filipino, Hispanic and Caucasian. They have fraternal twins who are simply gorgeous. As a matter of fact, these toddlers are currently building up a modeling portfolio. They are after all, the epitome of what America is: a melting pot.

But even people who don’t look exotic or “mixed” are more than likely made up of many ethnic backgrounds. In fact, I would guess that in the next three to four generations, the average person would not be able to guess from just looking at a person, what any of their ancestry is.

When filling out a form or application and the question for ethnic background comes up, there just aren’t enough options.

Asian

African

Pacific Islander

Hispanic

Native American Indian

Middle Eastern

White

WTF?

Wedding dresses are white. Paper is white. Milk is white.

I am not white.

Why does every other ethic group get a name or origin but those who supposedly comprise the larger portion of America’s genetic make-up are lumped together with a color??

Or, a non-color technically.

Every time I fill out a form like that I either draw a line through “White” and write next to it “Caucasian” or if I’m feeling really feisty I’ll check the “Other” box and just list the known countries my ancestors came from.

England, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, South Wales, France, Switzerland, Germany and Prussia. And this doesn’t even include my paternal grandmother’s ancestry and I actually look strikingly like her!

My ancestors hail from 3 different contingents and 10 different countries and spoke at least as many languages for gosh sakes! France is no more like Scotland than England is like Germany. I am no pure race just because I have fair skin. I am just as mixed as anyone. It just so happens that the countries were all basically Nordic or Scandinavian in their earlier origins.

Hmmm. Maybe next time I’ll write “Mixed Scandinavian” after checking the “Other” box. But even that isn't quite accurate.

There was once a time in the history of the world, before much interbreeding took place that characteristics to each country were more pronounced.

Black people from the heart of Africa, actually used to have black/ charcoal colored skin. Some still do. But it’s not something we identify with here in America. It would be helpful though to remember that when America was still in the early phases of development, the world was a much less mixed place, and the differences in culture, foods, clothing styles and languages were less understood, less accepted and a typically unfamiliar, often frightening things. Whatever someone has never had exposure to seems strange, different and often uncomfortable.

White people from up by the Northern world hemisphere used to have blindingly pale skin and hair. Every now and then you’ll see someone who actually looks like their wearing a white body suit, or their hair went prematurely white. But, like with the darker races, the lighter races have also blended into darker shades of creams and peach.

Since all the races have for centuries now, been slowly watering down the lineage purity and making the shades of dark and light blend together, it’s actually difficult to find examples of these extremes. And people who exhibit these characteristics are definitely gawked at in a world that now sees primarily shades of hybrid tan.

Being mixed is a wonderful thing though. I absolutely believe that we can credit racial mixing with the amazing increase of gorgeous people in the world. A prime example is Jessica Alba. Credited with topping Maxim’s Hot Babe List, FHM’s Sexist Girl, Hollywood’s Sexiest Female Star and ranking high in beauty and sex appeal in others polls, she has universal appeal. Her dad is Mexican and her mom is French and Danish.

The only real problem with the racial diversity of our country now, is when people try to categorize. As if you can measure the ancestry in your blood to see what you have the most of, or just choose one country to represent when your genetic ties and influences from the other countries are just as strong.

Instead of checking just one box, you really need to be able to check about half a dozen.

And even if my own personal pedigree is comprised mostly of particularly pale people, well, that’s perfectly fine with me. After all, the last time I checked, it wasn’t a crime to be racial diverse but still fair skinned.

Just stop calling me white.

2 comments:

Anna said...

I agree..... for me to be called White is demeaning to who I really am. White is not a race, its a color so its ignorant as well.

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