Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The One With Filling in Stupid Bubbles #sol15

Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. Every March, the Slice of Life Challenge is a month-long experience where Slicers post every single day for the entire month. I'm joining in on the monthly challenge this year! For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.

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Yesterday I talked about a We Need Diverse Books discussion at Nerdcamp last summer. It may sound strange, but my whole revelation about needing diverse books for myself truly has only occurred to me recently. Obviously, I know I come from two different backgrounds and I'm thankful for the experiences and traditions each of my cultures has given me but it's always been my normal. It's only been in the last year that I've thought about how my story factors in as a diversity story. Maybe this in itself makes the case for diverse books - to help individuals see that there are others who have experience a unique view upon the world?

How I felt when I marched down to the room at Nerdcamp last summer reminded me of the distress I felt over having to choose my ethnicity when I was in junior high and high school taking standardized tests or filling out college applications. 

It's hard to describe how frustrating it is to know that I'm white AND I'm also Hispanic but to so often see the option "White (non-Hispanic)" when it comes to ethnicity. In terms of college, it helped me to be Hispanic so I usually checked the Hispanic box. I am Hispanic. But I'm also white. Ugh. It's so annoying. I know there are reasons why they want(ed) people to choose but I'm not sure I entirely understand why there couldn't be more than only one choice. 

It seems more common now to see the option to choose multiple ethnicities. I'm glad for this. Even if there might be a valid point (maybe?) for asking a person to choose only one, it seems like then there would need to be a common way to decide how to pick which one and I'm not sure that is communicated well if there is a standard definition. I remember people telling me to go with my dad - which would make me white - but seeing the words non-Hispanic next to that always irked me. And again, in the case of college or scholarships, it most often seemed to benefit me if I chose Hispanic. 

I loathed having to choose. 

It was like 
an entire piece of my identity.

You know what the worst part of having to choose only one ethnicity was? 

It felt like I didn't count.

I didn't fit nicely into a little bubble on an answer sheet but it didn't matter,

I had to make myself fit.

It seemed like it 
wasn't okay or 
wasn't acceptable or 
wasn't recognized 
that a person could be of two different ethnicities.

Ugh, again. It frustrates me.

There does seem to be more acknowledgement of people from different ethnicities now. Here is a link to the 2010 Census Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin. In the Overview it states that: 

"The U.S. Census Bureau collects race and Hispanic origin information following the guidance of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) 1997 Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. 2 These federal standards mandate that race and Hispanic origin (ethnicity) are separate and distinct concepts and that when collecting these data via self-identification, two different questions must be used."

This is a big step. If we're going to collect data, let's make those data as accurate as possible. Let's be understanding of the reality that many people aren't of only one race or ethnic origin any more.

The We Need Diverse Books campaign and discussion at Nerdcamp last year brought up memories of having to choose one ethnicity and not feeling valued as someone who is white and Hispanic. Tomorrow I'll tell you about a conversation when I tried to help someone understand this feeling and how I had to wrap my brain around what it might be like to not have to feel this inner struggle.

To read my previous Slice of Life posts, click on any link below:

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