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The Wright Perspective℠

Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

The syntax of race: Which box do YOU check???

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

I wanted to talk about a "race issue" that has really been bothering me lately. Please understand that I am not trying to offend anyone. Those that know me would tell you that I love ALL people from every walk of life (just look at my MySpace friends). I think racism is a really ignorant behavior. I guess if anybody is entitled to be racist, it would be the American Indian - but I am not.

It actually was the "Native American" label that got me thinking about all of this. While tracking the population of "Native Americans", I noticed a strange growth pattern occuring across the nation. I knew that there weren't suddenly little "Indians" being born, so I investigated the data to find the cause of the upward surge.

This population "increase" was not real - there were just lots more people claiming to be "Native American." It turns out that some people do not know that "Native American" refers to the "American Indian." Lots of people have been incorrectly checking the Native American box because they were "native" to America. Born in America. I can see how the label could be misleading...

What got us in the mess is creating all of these damn check boxes? It was "political correctness" that caused it, because we wanted a way to label people - but we must dare not offend them.

To be correct, the term "Indian" does not apply to the population in the United States. It was all just a mistake - when the settlers arrived in America, they believed they had found a passage to India, so they referred to our indiginous people as "Indians".

The same line of thinking brought up the "Hispanic" check box. People used that term to label the people from Hispaniola, but again they used the term too often that it also became offensive. The "Hispanic" label was then retired and it became the "Latino" check box.

Next come the African American population. It is offensive to refer to people by their color, so "blacks", "colored", and similar terms should never be used. They eventually created the "African American" check box. That worked great until that label was used too often. My friend from Nubia visited and everyone called him "African-American" just because he was black. Many people are black and not African or American.

I guess I may never understand labeling people and sticking to all of the old stereotypes. The proper syntax of race can be very confusing. If I had it my way there would be just one check box: An American.

What box do you check???

With much love,

-- Gary Wright II

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