Sunday, September 17, 2006


Earlier today, I had to fill out a form to sign my daughter up for after school activities. Right in the middle of the form was this question:

__Caucasian __ African American __ Asian __ Hispanic __ Other

Questions like this pose a bit of a conumdrum for us in our household as to what to answer. Our children are biracial (black/white) - does this mean we should choose two answers, or should we choose "other".

Some people here suggest we should use the old mentality from slavery/segregation days, that if a child is partly black we should call him/her "black". For me, this seems backwards - the children have as much of my genetic material in them as my wife's, so in reality they are both black AND white. So, the logical conclusion would be to check both "caucasian" and "African American". That would be if it were not for my wife...

My wife detests the term "African American" - a term that was basically invented to avoid offending some overly sensitive people in this country. To my wife's point, she is not from Africa (her ancestors came from Africa hundreds of years ago), and she is not an American, and so neither word applies to her. So, whenever she is filling out a form and sees "African American", she will check the "other" box and write in "black".

And so, knowing my wife would not like it if I described our daughter as "African American", and knowing just describing her as "caucasian" when she looks more black than she does white would throw them off, I simply left the question blank.

Perhaps the bigger question is why this form was asking for ethnicity at all. Why do they need to know my daughter's ethnicity when I am signing her up for after-school activities? After all, they will plainly see what she looks like when she shows up.

People here in this country waste far too much time trying to label each other as "Caucasian", "African American", "Hispanic", or the like. Perhaps if we instead spent this time on trying to put past differences behind us, society would be better as a result.