Just call me a human being

With-JulianRocio Tapia,
Forest Park, GA.

Being from Mexico, I do not have any sense of race. I know what I am and do not identify with any of the categories listed when I am asked about my race or ethnicity, so I often leave it blank or choose “Other” if I am pressed to select one.

My son, however, was born and grew up in the USA. He does question what he is and made a short film about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcBEhm8_Gb4

Keep the conversation going - comment and discuss with your thoughts

  • LBell

    This video points out one of the big challenges a lot of people have with the concept of race. Kal’s parents and cousins all mentioned nationality, which has NOTHING to do with race. He himself said that you can be white and be born in Africa, or black and be born in Europe. So when someone asks you “What race are you?” and you say “I’m Mexican” that’s not answering the question. If I saw Kal on the street and was asked to identify what RACE he was using just my eyes, I’d say he was Asian (the race), and probably south Asian (the general nationality). I don’t believe for a minute that he didn’t know what the guy behind the counter was asking him.

    I haven’t spent a lot of time on this particular NPR series but I’m going to assume that the VISUAL aspect of race classification has been discussed thoroughly. How you physically present in the world is how people are going to classify you racially until and unless they gain more information. I’m not saying this is right or fair but we need to be honest about how human eyes and brains work, especially today. The whole concept of race is man-made but since it’s played such a huge role in much of the last 600 years’ worth of world history it’s disingenuous at best to pretend that people living now don’t participate in it to some extent, especially those of us who live in racially diverse countries (hint: Mexico has racial issues too; they may not be labeled as such but they exist).

    I don’t have Kal’s problem; I am obviously, visually, black. Because I am dark-skinned, the question I get, depending on where I am, is “What country are you from?” In America, I get it primarily from Africans. In Europe, I get it from everybody. The answer to the question of my NATIONALITY is the same in both cases: “American.” (Except of course there’s still this tendency to associate “American” with “white,” which was also demonstrated in this video…)

  • debsaid

    I too struggled when answering the question ‘what is your race?’. Until I realized ‘what does it matter?’ and I just pick one of the many that belong to my heritage (actually, some of the options given are actually nationalities and not race). People need to stop making such a big deal about it. If you don’t feel like you belong to any one particular race, so what? Let it be.
    And yes, like Bell said, nationality has nothing to do with race – a lot of Americans seem to confuse that.

  • Lynne in Peekskill

    When I worked for the US Census 3 years ago, I asked the questions on the form which asked people to identify themselves by race. The people from Mexico, Central and South America were across the board perplexed by the race question. Usual response was, “I’m Spanish!”.

  • E.Norton

    Why do we even ask the question? As long as the question is asked, equality doesn’t exist.

 

Tweets by Michele Norris