Friday, December 11, 2009

one of these things is not like the other

Hi everyone, thanks for your uplifting words on my last post. On the positive end: I  now have a brand spankin' new computer with all my old information and better programs and capabilities... on the other hand, a negative one, of course, I am in more debt than ever and I don't feel like I deserve any of it. Hmph. I could probably rant for hours about how disappointed I am in myself but I'll spare you ;) and instead rant about more important things.
I conducted one of my last interviews for my NEW305 class this morning. Our last article is a profile on someone related to our beat, not surprisingly, mine is about an international student. She is amazing, to say the least, and I will share the piece with you later if it turns out as well I'm hoping ;). Anyway, what was struck me today was how interested this man was as to why I wanted to write about diversity and the such.
Of course, I've studied abroad, been on the other side, and felt that SU students didn't know enough about the global perspective at their finger tips. But more so, as I found myself answering his question--I realized I think education is the key to eliminating social prejudices.
Oooh, heavy stuff :) but really though. For as many people as I have met, for as many places as I have been, I have realized although different in the most beautiful of ways, we are all pretty much alike. We all have the same basic needs and want the same things, happiness most often, although as my book review explains that is interpreted in various worldly forms.
All it takes is a little awareness and understanding. Easy as pie.
And so, to end this semester-long infiltration of scholarly opinion and information, I share with you a letter/poem I wrote (never sent) at the beginning of the semester to the U.S. Census Bureau...

I have a few things to say about your optional question of identification for  those with citizenship within the United States.

There is no such thing as a white race.

Sure, you will find light-skinned people, and quite a lot of them, too, but ask them where they came from and you'll get countless different answers. Some don't remember, others do.

People in Western Europe and Eastern Europe alone have distinct identities. Look even closer at French and Germans, if you don't believe me. They are European neighbors, definitely, but all would disagree that their ethnicities are overwhelmingly similar.

I, myself, have ancestors from Ireland and Scotland. I will happily tell you so. And I'm sure the present-day inhabitants, of a variety of skin colors, would be proud to say the same.

Now, about this other race. You know, the Black one.

I don't call myself Black, none of my family has dark skin, but that imaginary creation of yours irks me just as much.

There are certainly African-Americans of whose ethnicity, quite unfortunately, cannot be traced back to any specific country. Yet there are others who are very much aware of their lineage--from Kenya, to South Africa, numerous African countries of which the only connection among them is the continent from which they were born. And sometimes, yet not always, the color of their skin. Remember Egypt?

Still, Blacks don't end there. Oh no. Let's not forget about Brazilians, or Dominicans, or countless others of which have lived in one country or another for so long that they no longer look towards their African origin as an identifying label.

What then is the connection among Whites and that among Blacks?

Oh my gosh, and if you can't answer that one... how about this one? Who the hell came up with the term Hispanic?

It may mean from Spanish descent and that may very well be true, but listen, there's a whole 'nother mix of diversity within that group that you're so casually overlooking.

This may not bother others, but it sure bothers me. My father was born in Mexico; my maternal grandmother was born in Colombia. They both would easily be able to converse with someone from Chile, but who knows, the bond might end there.

All three could very accurately (and respectfully), point out that their cultures, traditions, and values have little beside the shared language. And religion, too, but I won't go there yet.

And finally, let's talk Asian. 

I have not quite been to Asia nor do I know very much about Asian ethnicities, but I can say one naiive thing: Indian food and Japanese food taste nothing alike.

I know, I know, sounds like ignorance. But in reality, it's just a revelation touching the surface. Because really, if they don't even have flavors in common, I doubt there's much else besides being from the same fascinating far-away East. I wonder what the majority of the Russian country thinks about this one.

I'm just saying, we're not a crayon box of 12. It's about time you acknowledge the uniqueness, or rather, forget about undefined races and just accept that sometimes different colors mean the same thing: American.
One of these things just doesn't belong. Mmm... or does it?

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