Sparrow Ghost-Blogs On The Weirdness of Race

Note: This was originally posted by Sameera Righton on Sparrowblog Thursday, May 10, 2007.

Here's something else to love or hate about the hunky golfer who refuses to identify himself by race.* Ten years ago, on Oprah, he got everybody riled up by saying, "I'm a Cablinasian." As in Caucasian-black-Indian-Asian. "I'm just who I am," Woods said, "whoever you see in front of you."

It's getting harder to label Americans by race. Take Halle Berry, for example. Or Derek Jeter. And on American Idol, when Jordin Sparks said, "I've got an average family," and a photo of her black Dad and white Mom came up, I found myself wondering if she'd say she was African-American or white, or both, or neither. (Weird note to self: they all have black Dads and white Moms ...)

People are talking race about candidates Obama and Richardson, describing them as black and Latino, but Obama's white American mother fell in love with his Kenyan father at a Hawaiian university, and Richardson has a half-white, half-Mexican father and a Mexican mother. So does that make him Latino? Even though I know it's important for the black and Hispanic communities to feel represented (hey, the day we have an Asian-ish candidate, believe me, I'm going to notice), maybe the real question to ask is whether these guys would make good Presidents.

*Technically, Tiger's 1/4 Chinese, 1/4 Thai, 1/4 Black, 1/8 Native American, 1/8 Dutch, his wife Elin is Swedish, so do the math for their babies if you care about the numbers.

Photo Source: Fifi LePew


annie said…
I would like to see more people from different racial backgrounds represented in book illustrations in particular. That would better represent the American scene these days.
However, I wonder if we could talk or define (if we even need to) in terms of culture or generation and not race. It may be splitting hairs but it seems that if we continue to concentrate or define one another by physical differences we will continue to view them as distinctions/barriers.

I've been out of the States a long time so perhaps I just don't understand. I live as a racial minority in Japan, but I view the distinction as being cultural and national not racial. I believe that's how I am perceived. If the little racial boxes on applications are there for background info., it seems like the box about your socio-economic background could serve part of that and then have a box asking if you're 1st generation (that may give language and cultural distinction.) I'm not sure if I'm making any sense, but it reminds me of a question you asked about the "Korean doctor". It was assumed that it was a racial distinction not language or cultural. I'm wondering if it would be possible to stop putting ourselves into racial boxes.
cloudscome said…
I think about these things a lot too. I like to recognize race and ethnicity on the one hand, but I don't want to be limited by it. It has to be a case by case basis I guess. And then you have to try to figure out what other people are saying/thinking in their race identifications...
rindawriter said…
Thanks for highlighting this much-needed issue.