Sunday, August 26, 2007

Single-parent heritage

Whenever people see a child with only one parent, they usually assume the kid is the same ethnicity as that parent. If there's a girl who is half Asian and half White, and people see her with her Asian father, most people will assume she's Asian. But if people see that same girl with only her White mother, they'll likely assume she's White.

As if it wasn't bad enough that people make these assumptions, the American government used to do this when collecting census data. Before the 2000 U.S. Census, mixed-race people in the United States could only choose one ethnicity. A woman named Susan Graham was filling out the Census in 1990, and she couldn't find a place on the form for her multiracial children. She asked the U.S. Census Bureau about it and they told her that mixed-race children are counted as the mother's ethnicity!

Graham is white. Her husband is black. When she received her 1990 census form, she complained to the census bureau that there was no place for her children. An official told her that children take the race of the mother because "in cases like these we always know who the mother is, but we don't know who the father is."

About the same time, her son was starting kindergarten. Her husbnd took him to school. [sic] A teacher, filling out a school form, concluded her son w
as black.

"We had the same child who was white on the census, black in school and multiracial at home," Graham said. "And I thought there's something wrong with this picture."


Like she says, when the same person is White on the Census, Black in school, and mixed-race at home...there's something wrong.

This problem was fixed in the U.S. Census in 2000, but it still exists elsewhere. Many people still assume a person's mother and father are always the same ethnicity, and when they see someone who is biracial, they usually force them into one side. A well-known example of this is how the media usually refers to Tiger Woods as African-American. He's actually only 1/4 Black and is more Asian than any other race, but almost nobody calls him Asian-American.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Intel Core Duo ad controversy

Some people thought this was racist:

This is an actual magazine advertisement from Intel. After people complained about it, the company discontinued the ad and apologized.

Those who were offended by this ad thought the men on the floor were Blacks bowing down to a White/European. Last month, I wrote about the advantages of having mixed-race people in advertising, and this ad is a good example. If everyone in this ad looked multiracial instead of monoracial, nobody would say it's racist because it would be unclear what ethnicity the men are in the first place.

If you're unsure about the ethnicity of a person, it's almost impossible to see them in a racial way. The same goes for advertising; if customers see people in an ad and they have no idea what ethnicity they are, they won't see anything racial about it. But the people in this Intel ad do not look mixed-race, so it was clear to many people what ethnicity they are. Some even saw a racist image.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

First White child

In Australia, the first baby with European ancestry was born on January 26, 1788. In the US, the first was in the 1560s, and in Canada, it was probably in the early 18th century. During colonial times, people in European colonies would often celebrate the birth of the "first White child" in their settlements. There was once an American postage stamp that celebrated the first European baby in North Carolina, USA (picture above).

When I learned about this, my first reaction was "that's racist!" If anyone celebrated something like that today, it would be the Ku Klux Klan or Neo-Nazis. And then I thought, "is it really racist?"

Celebrating White/Caucasian ethnic heritage is a lot more controversial these days because many people will think it's White supremacy or racism. A really good example of this is when Lisa McClelland (picture at left), a high school girl in California, tried to start a "Caucasian Club" 4 years ago, and it became a national controversy.

There's nothing wrong with being proud of your White/European heritage, but Whites/Europeans have been overrepresented throughout history and Eurocentrism has historically been a "normal" thing, so people might misunderstand you. Non-European heritages should definitely be celebrated because they've always been ignored, but celebrating Asian, Black, Latino, and indigenous cultures should never mean looking down upon European heritages. That's what Whites/Europeans have done to other people throughout history, and doing that to them would just reverse the hatred, when there should be no hatred in the first place.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

More than Indian or Chinese

On July 22, 2005, police in London, England mistakenly killed a man because they thought he was a terrorist. People said the guy had an "Asian" appearance. On June 30, 2007, there was an attack at Glasgow International Airport in Scotland, and the suspects were also described as "Asian."

But wait.

Did they mean these guys looked Chinese? In America, if someone looks "Asian" it means they look "Chinese" (regardless of what ethnicity they actually are). But these events happened in the United Kingdom; when they said "Asian" they meant Indian (from India). The American media would never use the word "Asian" to describe people from India (maybe they would use the term "South Asian").

Most people will agree Filipinos are Asian, but I have never heard people use "Asian" to describe their appearances. In the US, Asian is generalized as Chinese. In the UK, Asian is generalised as Indian. In the Philippines there are people who look Chinese, Indian, or a mix of both, like boxer Manny Pacquiao (picture above).

"Asian" usually refers to Chinese or Indian, but it doesn't always mean people from China and India.

In the United States, "Asian" usually means people from here:

...Vietnamese, Japanese, and Koreans are generalized as "Chinese."

But in the UK, "Asian" is:

...Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh are also included.

I don't know what "Asian" means in Australia/NZ or Canada. If you are from those countries, please comment.

In any case, "Asian" more accurately means people from here: