Why not select all that apply?

Anna Murphy,

My Mother is Mexican and Slovak. My father is Irish. Many applications and census options only give the option for “Hispanic,” or “White, not Hispanic.” I will never select either of these options. By my freckles, fair skin, and name alone, no one would ever think I had Hispanic blood, but my half Mexican mother is phenotypically Hispanic and it has always been a large part of her identity. She was at times mistaken for the nanny when my brothers and I were small, or people would ask me if I was adopted since our appearances were so different. I find the surveys that ask me to choose between those two identities with no middle ground to be difficult because I am not willing to disconnect myself from either part of my family. If I choose “White, not Hispanic,” it feels as though I am disowning my Mexican grandfather. If I choose Hispanic, it feels disingenuous because I have never experienced what it is to live as a phenotypically Hispanic person and most of my heritage is white. I choose in these cases “prefer not to answer.” It has also been my experience that people are willing to expose their anti-immigration, and xenophobic side to me because I am so phenotypically white. Sometimes I let it go and feel guilty about it. Other times, I respond that my grandfather immigrated to the US from Mexico by rowboat with his mother and that immigrants have and will continue to make our country great. In our country, where so many people are of mixed ethnic and racial backgrounds, why is “select all that apply” not always an option?


Tweets by Michele Norris