Some days you wish people just knew, or that you believed it yourself.
Month: October 2015
JumpStart, by Robb Armstrong, from GoComics.com
As I’ve said before, and will most definitely say again, racial identity can play a huge part in someone’s life. But that doesn’t mean it has to. I, myself, know plenty of people who have a mixed heritage, some being 99% this and 1% that, others are split right down the middle, who have little interest in dual-culture efforts or the separation of racial background. When people ask me about my ‘ethnicity’, I will most often say that I’m 50% Chinese (sometimes I’ll specify that my family lives in Taiwan or that my recent ancestors were from Manchuria) and 50% white. White? Did they ask me what color underwear I avoid? Why is white an appropriate answer? Better yet, where is white an appropriate answer?
Well let me backtrack to the asking of the question. If you’re someone who’s physical features, voice, or lifestyle do not fit the stereotypical mold(s) associated with your race, then maybe you too have been stumped by the question, “Please check the box that best describes your race.”
Whether it be in the form of an official US census or a project handed to you by a classmate, this sort of question is not easily avoided in the United States.
-Are you of Hispanic or Latino origin?
-What is your race? Mark one.
-Please fill in the bubble with your race. Mark all that apply.
As a bi- or multiracial person what is the best/right choice? If they ask to only check one box, which do I check? I may be half and half but I look more white, and most people assume I’m white? Why is the color (or shade) white an option but Chinese is another possible answer? What about my various European ancestries, where is that box? If I am allowed to check more than one, how much my ethnic background do I need to divulge? Who checks the box that says ‘other’? The choices are usually limited, and speaking logically, how could they not be? Even if the point of the question/survey isn’t gathering racial data or numbers, it may very well have an effect on whomever is attempting to check the box.
But so what? Why does it matter what one survey asks or what a stranger assumes about you? Things like race, they’re just social constructs. Well that’s just it. We live as social creatures, for the most part, constantly planning our days around contact with one another, with society. To some, questions like those above are answered with a swift flick of the wrist and not thought of again until the next survey. But I am writing to reach the audience that raises a brow at this kind of question; those that scan the boxes up and down before marking them.
And if you’re thinking that boxes on a form or survey are just boxes… check again, please.
Connections: Identity and Community
Writing, whether online or on paper, is going to have structure. This structure may not be taken from a book or an instructional video, it may even lie hidden, unknown to the writer, but it will be there. The way people compile information in their heads and spit it back out will almost always follow a trend or pattern. Another way of saying it is that people innately create connections between thoughts and actions, including when we write. Making a connection between what we read or watch, and what we write is similar, just one frame larger in the full picture of analyzing the relationship between pen and paper.
The guidelines to writing well are not slim or short; there might be an endless number of guides to writing, probably one under forgotten syllabi in the side drawer of your desk. Digital rhetoric, for example, is one thing to be aware of when reading or posting online. In James P. Zappen’s article on digital rhetoric one of his key points for writing online is Identity and Community.
Now how will I make sense of writing about writing on a blog that is titled ‘mixed kid problems’? It’s actually kind of simple. Identity and Community, the two terms Zappen emphasizes as important factors in digital work, will be the topic of my blog post today. However, the terms and their skeletal bodies of the processes by which people form identities, are simply going to be shifted over to the concepts of bi and multi-racial ethnology. What you get is mixed identity and mixed community.
Is this a random connection based on a coincidence of similar words? Perhaps.
It might also be what I meant by how connections work in people’s head, and subsequently, how it finds its way onto parchment.
Identity can be as easily understood as the lyrics to your least favorite country song, or as difficult as it was for most of us throughout high school. And what if you are searching for yourself? How can you find it, much less know it’s been found?
Of course these are questions we all ask, it’s kind of part of the human experience in life. So instead, I would ask whoever has thought of these questions, those of us who know what it’s like to want to fit in (probably not a small demographic), to take that uncertainty and paint it on their face, on their skin, on the tongue which we use to convey language, and on the eyes of our peers. Coming from two different worlds, and trying to understand both, can be tough no matter the distance in between. Just imagine if you asked worlds (planets) to come together; close like Earth and Mars, or far like Mercury and Pluto (still a planet to me).
If my words seem too abstract for you, then good. Because a person defining themselves, while at the same time being defined by other people is not a sensation that clings to the concrete.
As I continue this blog my posts and ideas will, of course, become more defined/exact. If you have a ship full of thoughts you should probably anchor them to something if you want others to share in them.
Here’s where I start: