Monday, September 29, 2008

The (Mixed) Race Card

Hey - I read a neat article in yesterday's Seattle Times about Seattle's mixed-race population. Turns out, we have the highest density population of biracial or multiracial people in the country! Why is that? Because historically we had smaller populations of minorites, so more "mixing" was happening.

This article was likely spurred by Obama's run for president and the subsequent new focus on race. They say he'll be "the first black U.S. president," which is interesting, because he's actually mixed race. Somehow the minority race trumps Caucasian, and not just with Obama.

This is my opportunity to gently remind readers that "Hispanic" is not a race. Nor is "Latino." They are both terms describing culture. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race, or mixed race. Oddly, in government forms "Hispanic/Latino" actually trumps race. "White, non-Hispanic," "Black, non-Hispanic," "Hispanic."

Interesante, ¿verdad? Some call Hispanics/Latinos "brown." There are books dealing with the "brown" race.

Reading this reminded me of something that happened not too long ago with a Latina friend. We were looking at her family photos, and I noticed that several members of her family were black. I said with surprise, "You're a black woman!" And she laughed at me, because she thought I realized that all along.

But I hadn't. I always identified with this friend as a Latina--not white, nor black, nor anything else. Hispanic, Latina, Venezuelan. So even in my own mind, apparently, being Latina trumped her race, which is mixed.

I welcome any similar stories or lessons you might have. And I wish you a fabulously productive week!

1 comment:

  1. As a Latina myself, I have to admit that I never thought about my race. I am Bolivian, darker than some of my "paisanos" and whiter than many others. I think we are happy to be "mestizos" (a classification that I don't find in the forms I fill in this country to describe my race) a "mestiza" with multicolor grandparents, from the palest to the darkest.


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