CHAT: US ancestry [was Re: FWD [OT but interesting] Arctic
|From:||John Cowan <jcowan@...>|
|Date:||Monday, August 19, 2002, 2:08|
Thomas R. Wier scripsit:
> I got those from the US Census website. I looked for other
> kinds of ancestry listed, but I didn't find any then. It may
> well be that all caucasian ancestries are grouped to gather,
> all mongoloid ancestries, etc. Which would still be worrisome,
> since it implies that race *does*, somehow, have meaning.
Of course it has meaning. Socially constructed meaning, to be sure,
still meaning. Thirty years ago, I happened to read the requirements for
receiving a scholarship from the United Negro College Fund: not that I
had the slightest expectation of receiving one, but merely out of mildly
bored curiosity. One requirement has stuck in my mind for those three
decades: "The candidate must be generally known as a Negro by his family,
friends, school, and/or community." (I have not seen how, as is likely,
this language has been updated.)
For this purpose, at least, being an African-American is a matter of
what other people believe about you, and its connection with ancestry
or appearance is indirect.
As for the Census, the data directly reflect the questions asked,
which give people a list to check off including various categories:
the categories are not given any classifying label such as "Race" or
"Ancestry", IIRC. There is also a separate section that asks you if
you are of Hispanic origin or not. For census purposes, you are white
if you say you are, and there is no way to specify a particular ethnic
origin except by way of the "Other" category.
(This has some personal application to me. My daughter's birthparents
were unquestionably Hispanic, and she has a typically Caribbean
appearance, but is not Hispanic in culture in any meaningful way.
She is an "Other.")
John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Unified Gaelic in Cyrillic script!