Identifying Race

Chuck Coker (cjcoker@CRIS.COM)
Tue, 30 Jul 1996 08:43:43 -0700

The "Any thoughts?" thread made me think of this. When I registered my
daughter to start Kindergarten in September, the school papers kept
asking for her race, but each time said it was optional to check a box.
I asked the school secretary about this and she said that if I don't
check a box, they will check "White".

So far as I know, my daughters only race is Human, but that wasn't a

Looking at her ancestry, I see (using stereotypical labels) Cherokee,
Apache, Zapotec, Mexican, Black, and White. Now which box should be
checked? (I ruled out Asian, BTW.) I am quite sure that she is not
the only kid with parents, grandparents, etc. that have different
shades of skin and/or come from different countries.

In the end, I decided, "Well, she was born in America, and has never
been out of the country; that must make her 'Native American'."

How do other people handle this type of situation?

How much longer will belonging to a race be necessary for an education?
As long as the government hands out more money for some races than others?
Will she have an advantage in the long run if I choose one race over

There was another question that asked: What languages does she speak?
Being rather proud of my trilingual daughter, I put down English, Spanish,
and Hualapai. The secretary said, "Oh no! Don't put down Spanish unless
you want her to be put in the Spanish-speaking classrooms, instead of the
regular ones." The secretary explained that my daughter would have to
take ESL classes for several years until she could be moved to a regular
class. (She is as fluent as any native speaker in all three languages.)
Has anyone ever studied how many kids get put in the "stupid" classes
(the kids all know what those classes *really* mean) because of the
ability to speak more than one language, Spanish, in this case?

I know that California, as a state, hates Mexicans (i.e., any
Spanish-speaking person is by definition an illegal alien from Mexico).
Proposition 187 was passed for the purpose of legally harassing brown-
colored people; it is never used against illegal Canadians, for example,
but it *is* used against *legal* Mexicans. Does this type of thing
occur in other states as well? Other countries?

Curious (and somewhat upset today),
Chuck Coker

PS: Another race/ethnic question I've wondered about is: What exactly
is a Hispanic?