It’s time for racial census labels to go

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webmaster | 02/01/12
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The U.S. Census soon will report that some people aren’t satisfied with the Census form’s four standard racial labels: White, black, Asian/Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native. Some respondents scratched those labels out and self-described themselves. They used terms such as Arab, Haitian, Mexican and multiracial.

I agree the labels are wrong. Why do we need to know the racial makeup of any population? Unless, of course, that information is being used for discrimination — which should not be the case.

The United States is a land to which people from many cultures have come. They didn’t come here to be Chinese, or African, or Welsh. They came here to be American.

It is true that many ran into racism, and were victims of discrimination. That happened in California — and even in Madera. But that idiocy, thank heaven, is being overcome. And it is true some people don’t care to socialize with people of other cultures or races — although I think those who don’t miss out on a lot.

The Interfaith/Intercultural Day at Hatfield Hall last week was a wonderful experience in the joys of seeing how people from other cultures and religions live their lives.

When people come to America, regardless of where they are from, they come here to be Americans — not Mexicans, not Italians, not Armenians, not Irish, not Africans, or whatever they were when they left to come here.

Most people came here for economic opportunities, not to escape their cultures. In most cases, they brought at least part of their cultures with them — to be part of a new culture.

I dislike the idea of referring to people from other cultures as citizens of their old countries first, such as African-Americans or Mexican-Americans. They are Americans first. American-African, if they want to hyphenate, or American-Mexi- can, or American-Irish.

But why play the race card at all? Let’s get rid of the racial questions on the census altogether. It shouldn’t count for anything. We are all in this together. We are all Americans.

 

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