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I was in the comments section of another diary and the some of the commenters wrote about putting "human" or other such identifier in place of one of the standard choices for "race" on forms. I'd like to urge you not to do this. I'm taking a quick break from studying, so I'm just going to repeat what I wrote in that diary below.  

I wrote:

There is a problem with just ignoring race on forms and stuff. The only reason we know things like black babies are more likely to die than white babies is because of race reporting on forms. How do address an injustice like this if you don't have the means to even identify it? I've seen some arguments for making economic status the identifier in place of race, the theory being that the underlying problem with negative stats for minorities is really economic status. While it seems logical, and probably is true, it doesn't capture the racial injustice, the fact that blacks (and other minorities) are more disadvantaged BECAUSE of their skin color. It's a weird conundrum, because we have to deal with the reality of our racist society, but it seems like even acknowledging race is perpetuating it.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Yup (4+ / 0-)

    Putting race on forms is not the reason we have racism in America...I suspect it might have something more to do with centuries of slavery, systematic disenfranchisement, and, continued....what's the word....bigotry.

    So yeah, let's at least have a record of what is being done to black people.  We can worry aout the forms once they stop revealing institutional racism.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 05:45:54 PM PST

  •  When the Identifiers Cease Revealing Patterns (4+ / 0-)

    that's when we'll know we don't need them.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 05:55:59 PM PST

  •  I mostly agree, but it's also true (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ashaman, Oh Mary Oh, kurt

    that the categories are peculiar ones, and that our society is invested in them in ways that only sometimes have anything to do with tracking the kinds of patterns we need to know about to fight injustice. Years ago I heard a fascinating little talk about someone who tried resisting the bureaucracy of racial classification, and where that led. By the magic of Teh Googles I have just found it for you. It's still fascinating. I don't agree with every judgment he makes, but there is a lot here to think about. Here is the move that starts it all off, to whet your curiosity:

    “Race” is, at best, a fuzzy concept about typical physical characteristics of certain populations. At worst, of course, it provides a basis for more contemptible conduct than any concept other than religion. In answer to the race question on the security form, I decided to put “mongrel.” It would have been slightly less provocative had I said “human,” but I've always enjoyed diddling forms a bit.

    Shortly after I handed in the form, I received a call from a secretary in the security office of the Defense Communications Agency. She said she had noticed a typographical error in the fifth question where it said “Mongrel.” She asked if I didn't mean “Mongol.” “No thanks,” I said, “I really meant mongrel.” She ended the conversation rather quickly.

    A few hours later I received a call from the chief security officer of D.C.A., who I happened to know. “Hey, Les,” he said in a friendly way, “I'd like to talk to you the next time you're over here.” I agreed to see him later that week. When I got there, he tried to talk me out of answering the race question “incorrectly.” I asked him what he thought was the right answer. “You know, Caucasian,” he replied. “Oh, you mean someone from the Caucasus Mountains of the U.S.S.R.?” I asked pointedly. “No, you know, white.” “Actually, I don't know,” I said.

    We got into a lengthy discussion in which he informed me that as far as the Defense Department was concerned there were five races: Caucasian, Negro, Oriental, American Indian, and Pacific Islander. I asked him how he would classify someone who was, by his definition, 7/8 Caucasian and 1/8 Negro. He said he wasn't sure. I asked how he classified Egyptians and Ethiopians. He wasn't sure. I said that I wasn't sure either and that “mongrel” seemed like the best answer for me. He finally agreed to forward my form to the security authorities but warned that I was asking for trouble.

    The rest is here: Can Computers Cope with Human Races?
  •  Asian-Americans? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Isn't their infant death rate lower than everyone else's?

    We sent them to die building the transcontinental railroad and we threw them into concentration camps.

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