You know my most favorite part about applying for new jobs? Getting to the Affirmative Action section. Most of it is pretty easy and self explanatory.
Do you have a disability? Check the ‘no’ box.
Are you a veteran? ‘no’ Box
What is your race?
Ay yo La, wtf is your race!?! Pick a box! But you can only pick one.
White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as “White” or report entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish. (how many white people do you know that would shit themselves in this Post 9/11 political climate to be lumped in with Arabs?)
Black or African American (not Hispanic) A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as Black, African American, or Negro, or provide written entries such as African American, Afro American, Kenyan, Nigerian, or Haitian.” (If you think the fact that ‘negro is included on this form is offensive, try the fact that the term wasn’t officially done away with by the OMB until 2000)
American Indian and Alaska Native A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment (so I’m only considered American Indian if I maintain tribal affiliation? Screw the ancestry?)
Asian A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. It includes Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Other Asian. (So if I’m Asian Indian but don’t maintain tribal affiliation does that mean I just drop the Indian? And is Other a country in Asia I am unaware of?)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. It includes people who indicate their race as Native Hawaiian, Guamanian or Chamorro, Samoan, and Other Pacific Islander. (So does this mean Obama has to check this box? Or no? Because he’s black? And White?)
Some other race Includes all other responses not included in the White, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander race categories described above. Respondents providing write-in entries such as multiracial, mixed, interracial, Wesort, or a Hispanic/Latino group (for example, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban)
Ok. I mean, I can read. But here’s what throws me…
Black or African American (not Hispanic or Latino) But…
“…who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment…” Oh…
And sometimes they get fancy…
Two or more races (not Hispanic or Latino) Um…
Or they get very specific…
What is your ethnicity, regardless of race?
Hispanic or Latino
Not Hispanic of Latino
(These are the only divisions of ethnicity?)
So, what ARE you, La?
Melungeon. Redbone. Quintroon. Mestee. Mulatto. We-Sorts. Zambo. Moreno. Quadroon. Octoroon. Afro-Latin American. Baster. Cholo. Creole. Pardo. Colored. Marabou. Blatino. Brass Ankles. Half Breed. Blaxican. Castizo. Multiethnic. Griqua. Amerindian. Taino. Biracial. Multiracial. Blaxica. Caucindiblack. Boriqua. Hexadecaroon.
It is any wonder I dunno what the fuck to check on these little boxes?
Of course if you’re not multiracial, or biracial, or whatever the hell it’s called this minute, you don’t really understand my pain. Or the guilt I feel when I can only check one box. Or the mini-identity crisis that ensues every time I read the ifs ands buts and what ifs that are supposed to quantify my racial and ethnic identity (which can apparently only be Hispanic or Latino or not Hispanic and Latino). I certainly don’t propose a laundry list of race friendly terminology on every self identification form or any foolishness thereof. But here’s what I DO recommend…
Stop telling me I have good hair.
My hair is a constant struggle. Sure, it looks fantastic when I leave the house, but I more than likely spent 2 hours wrangling it into some form of presentable. Maybe it’s curly. Maybe it’s pressed straight and hanging down my back. Either way, it’s a pain in my racially confused ass. It wouldn’t hurt for you to acknowledge that.
Don’t look at me like a race traitor because I don’t use Fashion Fair makeup.
Or any “ethnic” product du jour. It breaks me out. And I guarantee you that 99% of makeup of minorities don’t have not no parts of foundation that matches my skin. Nowhere. I put $100 on that.
Don’t ask me how I “got my skin so light” or any variation of the theme.
You haven’t lived until someone has wandered up to you and asked you what bleaching cream you used.
Don’t give me the confused head tilt and ask me, “What ARE you?”
The answer will always be, “I are about to kick your ass.”
Don’t call me “high yellow”, “Redbone“, “Creole”, “Mutt”, “Hybrid” or any of that other shit.
I’m La. It’s nice to meet you. My mother gave me 2 names. You may feel free to use either one. I won’t answer to any of those above.
Assume that I think I am better/smarter/prettier/likely to be more successful than my darker counterparts.
I didn’t even realize people still bought into this bullshit until someone assumed that my life goal was to be a video ho… because “isn’t that what your type like to do?”
It goes all ways though. White people could…
Stop trying to sell me Estee Lauder.
And most other typical “white” makeup product. It dries my skin out. And without fail makes my skin so pale I look like I am preparing for my funeral.
I realize it would be foolish of me to believe that all people would automatically assume I’m his kid. Just please also recognize that it is foolish of you to pull him over, Office Dumb Ass, because you think he has kidnapped me.
Stop assuming you can guess my ethnicity… and start telling racist jokes.
That goes for you, former employer who got a little too comfortable and started telling racist jokes about Black people… and for you Ivy League guy who was trying to impress me with talk of your travels to Latin America and the Caribbean and found great humor in telling me that Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are “dumpster races and cultural bastards” and then being shocked when I curse you out.
And Hispanic/Latino (so sayeth the Census Bureau) people could…
Stop sneering at me because I don’t speak fluent Spanish.
Or because I don’t understand Cuban Spanish. Or because sometimes I call them chickpeas. Or because despite my penchant for paella, I try not to fuck with starches (i.e. tortillas and potatoes.)
Not assume I am ashamed of my heritage.
Condemn me to the fires of hell because I am not Catholic.
I’m not Catholic for many reasons outside of the fact that my mother is black(ish).
With the inevitable (despite what Hillary says) nomination of Barack Obama as the democratic nominee for president of this country, the issues of mixed raced citizens are becoming a popular point of interest for various pundits and social critics. (By the way, don’t you love how Obama is always the ‘first African American nominee’? No one ever says, “If Obama wins he will be the youngest Caucasian to ever hold office.” I guess if you have to leave out something, it would logically his mother’s whole side of the family, even though that’s really the only one he’s ever known. Go ahead and tell me the one drop rule is dead.) It isn’t a new issue, it isn’t even an issue wildly unique to America. (I have a Dominican friend who will NOT admit to her friends that her mother is a Spaniard.) There are support groups and articles and essays and new awareness about the fact that, while a small group, multiracial/ethnic people are a substantial one. And one with unique perspectives on what it means to try and delicately straddle the definitive fences between cultures and races without damaging your most delicate parts. It’s probably not quite as hard for me as it was for my mom, won’t be as hard for my kids as it was for me. But the fact that so many people still feel the urge to quantify some parts of me and disregard others, lends itself to a certain kind of unique identity crisis that you can’t know unless you’ve lived it. Yes, I know you’ve heard it all, blahblahblah not black enough or white enough, yadda. But what about the gray areas? And what about a world, and a country more specifically, where who you are is so tied up in your color? Imagine if the very ancestral strand that you prided yourself on and built your identity around was questioned because you are somehow less than. I remember having a woman tell me that I couldn’t really be outraged about slavery because I “woulda been a house nigga anyway.”
About 2 months ago.
For most people of any race, they check a box and deal with the apprehension of whether or not they will be discarded because they aren’t the particular entity that company needs to fill a quota: white men wonder if they’ll be passed over for a Hispanic woman. Black and Hispanic people wonder if they’ll be discarded just because they are Black and Brown. Women wonder if they won’t get the high paying executive job dealing with finance because “women aren’t good with numbers.” It’s a crap shoot really. You could be helping yourself or shooting yourself in your affirmative action foot. Some people always wonder if they got the job because they deserved it or because there weren’t enough Asian people or women or Hispanic people working in that particular company or department.
But what if you, like I, constantly wonder if you are discounted because they, like the rest of the world, have no idea what to do with you?