Maybe it’s me but does anyone else feel like all the racial categorizing in this country has gone too far? Yesterday I encountered another taste of what those who are biracial have to deal with in a world that is far too obsessed with labeling everyone according to the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes.
Shorty will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. Our school system has its registration week coming up in early March. I’ve begun filling out the pages and pages of information that the school requires so my son can sit in one of their classrooms and get his education. Right there on page one I was faced with the most ridiculous question I have ever seen. (Or at least it seems to me.)
It started out innocently enough. The question had to do with race. “Please check all that apply.” Okay, I have no problem with that. I’ll be checking Asian and White because, well, that’s what Shorty is. I understand the logic behind allowing people to choose more than one race as we now have so many who come from more than one racial background.
But then I read this: “Please number in the order you would like them entered.” (Them being the race(s) checked off.) So, I now have to choose whether I consider my son more Asian or more white. Excuse my language but … WHAT THE FUCK?!!! My son is 50% Asian and 50% white. Do I toss a coin and place the number one next to the race that wins the coin toss?
I’m rather perplexed and offended by this part of the form. How does one who is equally bi-racial choose which of their identity to place first? My son is not even five. He doesn’t really even understand race past the point that some people have darker skin than others. He certainly shouldn’t have to choose which race he identifies with at this time in his life (or ever for that matter if he doesn’t want.) As his mother I shouldn’t be forced to choose which of his racial backgrounds I want to be listed first on some stupid form. If I put white in the number one position my husband could say he is offended. If I put Asian in the first position then I
might will be offended. Besides why oh why (unless it’s for medical purposes) does anyone have to be labeled by their race?
I should think asking people to list all their racial categories would be sufficient enough. Making people choose which of those categories they think comes first is insulting. To me that’s like asking our family whether we think more highly of the Asian side or the white side of our families. Yes, people may look at my child, especially white people, and think he looks more Asian than white but that does not mean his white side is any less on the number scale than his Asian side. To mark Asian as the race that should be entered first on some form simply because some people might think my son looks more Asian is like saying my genes don’t count. Besides, I’m sure if you were to ask any Asian person who saw my son and had no idea who his parents were they would easily tell you that this child is absolutely a mix because his hair, skin, and some of his features obviously have white genes in them. But to mark white as the number one race would be equally ludicrous. So, I guess one could say my son doesn’t fall more or less into either race depending on whom you ask.
Why this need then on this form to force parents to number the race they want to be listed first? Is it because the computer program being used won’t make exceptions and insists on ordering things? (Then change the program being used please.) Is it because somewhere down the line if my child should qualify for scholarships or some other program he will only qualify if one or the other race is listed as his first race? Or is it just that this stupid world of ours still can’t accept that people don’t always fit nicely into categories but some people can’t accept that and insist we choose a category anyway?
I’m so annoyed by this that I haven’t numbered either race. I’m seriously considering calling the school to complain. The only thing stopping me is because I don’t want my son to be known as the kid whose mom made a big stink about the Kindergarten registrations forms before he even has a chance to make his own impression and be known for something all his own.
Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Should I just toss that coin and number the race categories? As the mother of a child who is half another race am I the one who is just being sensitive? Is it because deep in my heart I know that in our predominantly white district my kid is probably going to be seen by most as more Asian and maybe a part of me is feeling sad that others don’t identify the child I carried in my body the same as me?
This one stupid question has opened a whole can of worms for me. It’s just another thing in my journey of motherhood that I never expected to have to think about. I’m wondering if there are other mothers out their who are filling out forms just like this one and having the same negative reaction to being asked to number their child’s racial identity in this way.
I’ll put the question out there to all of you … do you think I’m crazy for getting so bent out of shape for being asked to number the order in which my son is racially categorized when he is 50% one race and 50% another race? Do you feel asking parents to number the order in which they want their child’s race to be entered even necessary, especially since the form already asks us to check off all the races that apply?