Approximately seven years ago, I was engaged in, what I thought was a friendly conversation with a group of ladies at my work. As mothers, we often talked about daily activities our children were engaged in. Our conversations were personal, easy stress relievers, and generally ended with much laughter among the group.
When I ended my “story for the day” on the subject of my daughter’s latest activity, one of the ladies turned and said, “Well, she’s going to have psychological problems anyway.”
I looked at her, startled, and asked what she meant by that. “Well, she’s biracial,” she continued,” and all biracial children end up with psychological problems.”
This woman was the first person who’d ever made such an asinine statement to me, but unfortunately not the last. What she claimed never crossed my mind. Why would it?
My daughter is a charming, well-rounded, culturally balanced, beautiful biracial girl who excels academically, and–I might add she’s one very fine pianist. She has friends of all races and heritages, and she loves people. In fact, whenever someone refers to my daughter as one ethnic group over another, she’ll quickly inform she’s neither one over the other, but both (African-American and Hispanic), thus bi-racial. She loves all of who she is, and is very proud of both her heritages.
I must admit, I have heard of and read stories about biracial children and adults alleging they’ve encountered problems fitting into groups, but I truly hadn’t spent any time at all pondering over this subject where my own child is concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I did my homework as a parent; I made sure to do my part to balance knowledge of both heritages and pointedly built her character, self-esteem and self-worth. This is mainly because self-esteem challenges, good or bad, have to do with any parenting and environmental situations, and not based on one’s racial make-up.
Because I happen to be an African-American mother of a biracial child whose father is Hispanic, I felt if there are those who declare just because a child is biracial they will automatically have psychological problems; I needed to set a platform about diversity and bullying in motion.
The truth of the matter is, children have it hard these days no matter what their ethnic background. Psychological problems stem from a child’s own lack of self-worth, not from the color of the child’s skin. If anything, the problem stems from adults’ bigotry and small-mindedness. In twenty-first century America, there is no room for biases and division.
Multicultural education is the key to diversity and an important factor for decreasing bullying behaviors. We need to stop making assumptions about children based on what they look like and allow them the chance they deserve to grow into healthy, well-adjusted individuals.
Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D. is the owner of Books That Sow: Strength, Character & Diversity, DBA. Her collection of books builds character, self-worth, and empowers all children, whether monoculture, biracial of multiracial. Visit her website for more information: http://www.BooksThatSow.com. We are proud to have her on Project RACE’s Advisory Board.
Fourteen years ago, the U.S. Census first offered the ability to check off more than one option under “race/ethnicity.” 6.8 million people recorded that they identified with more than one race/ethnicity. By 2010, that number had ballooned to 9 million, a 32% increase.
All signs point to this trend continuing. The Wall Street Journalreports that 15% of American marriages in 2010 were between people of different races, with interracial unions now representing 8.4% of the total number of marriages. But with multiracial identity growing more visible each day, why is it still so hard to talk intelligently about multiracial people?
The problem: As with any identity, the experiences of “mixed” Americans vary endlessly. In the same way people of color are constantly measured against a normalized white identity, we seem to have trouble discussing multiracial people without negatively or positively defining them in terms of the more familiar racial categories.
Whether you’re “Filatino,” “Chicanese” or simply “not black enough,” the end result is a major gap in language and understanding around what it means to be mixed, especially in a country built on racial inequality.
In the name of launching our re-education, here are 10 things multiracial Americans are tired of hearing.
“You’re a mutt.”
As a general rule, it’s insulting to refer to someone using a derogatory term you’d normally call a dog. But more important, dubbing someone a “mutt” is also passing a value judgment of sorts, presumably in comparison to the “purebred” alternative.
It should go without saying that this is the last thing most people want to hear: an unfavorable dog comparison that devalues or marginalizes their worth based on their racial or ethnic heritage. So let’s just not.
“Were you confused growing up?”
Short answer: Yes — but mostly because growing up is confusing for everyone.
The problem here is assuming that confusion is the exclusive purview of multiracial people. It’s safe to say that developing an unconventional understanding of race is a byproduct of growing up mixed, especially in a society that insists on categorizing people as “either/or.” But similar claims could be made about being different in any context — which most people have been, regardless of race.
There are, of course, certain power dynamics that complicate matters, such as white privilege and other forms of white supremacy. But in general, confusion around identity is as dependent on the individual as one’s food preferences, or (least) favorite Drake song.
If a multiracial person is confused, it’s not because they’re multiracial — it’s because they’re confused.
“Why do you look so black (or Asian, etc.)?”
Here’s the funny thing about genes: They tend to function more as guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Just like your sister inherited your mom’s dimples while you got your dad’s puffy cheeks, multiracial people inherit different characteristic from different parents — and it’s all one big (relatively) unpredictable crapshoot.
For instance, if my biological mom is Sri Lankan and my dad is from Borneo, there’s a good chance that, despite anyone else’s biological expectations, I look more Sri Lankan. That’s just life. Let’s keep it moving.
“Whose side are you on?”
There’s a scene in the 2008 crime-comedy In Bruges where a character opines about the inevitable “war between the whites and the blacks.”
While the concept is more than a little unlikely, it’s been brought up as a hypothetical on numerous occasions.
So, as a multiracial person, which side would you choose if the varying parts of your heritage suddenly engaged in a violent death match? Part of this depends on how you identify, of course, but generally speaking, asking this is like asking someone else to choose a side if their parents — presuming they love them both equally — abruptly went to war with each other.
Nine times out of 10, you’d choose “neither” and move to Switzerland.
“Are you sure that’s what you are?”
If someone tells you they’re Cuban and Iranian, and you respond with the above question, rest assured, their answer is probably, “Yes. Based on multiple years of living as myself, knowing my family and existing in a society that, through countless social, economic and psychological factors, has made my racial identities abundantly clear to me and everyone else, I’m sure my heritage is what I say it is, and that I identify how I say I do.”
“That can’t really be your dad.”
Families don’t always look alike. If a person doesn’t physically resemble his parents, there are many possible reasons why, including, but not limited to, having been adopted, getting a fresh summer tan or some iteration of the aforementioned genetic crapshoot involving multiracial families.
The bigger problem here is the presumption that the person asking this question has the right to make sweeping claims about the other’s background. When it comes to mixed people, in the immortal words of Maya Angelou (albeit in a different context), “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
“You don’t count.”
In an excellent Hyphen Magazineessay, Sharon H. Chang interrogates why multiracial identity is constantly subject to other people’s political agendas. Being mixed should confer the opportunity, not to mention the right, to self-definition, but there remains a troubling tendency among certain elements to insist mixed people are one thing, the other or neither — all while completely ignoring their say in the matter.
Bottom line: How a multiracial person identifies is not for anyone to say but that person. Whether she does or doesn’t “count” as black, Latina, Asian or anything is completely up to her and her alone.
“That’s your Mexican side coming out.”
Attributing certain preferences, actions or characteristics to the presence of racial elements in a person’s bloodstream is problematic for one key reason: There’s no single way to express a given identity. This should go without saying, but if someone whose mother is Mexican happens to be good at soccer, it’s not because she’s half-Mexican. It’s because she has talent, practiced the sport and improved her skills.
“That’s the best combination.”
Claiming people who are, say, half-white and half-Japanese are the most physically attractive people in the world may sound like a compliment. But in fact, it’s a form of fetishization, and it masks some pretty troubling assumptions about race and beauty.
Not to mention, these “compliments” usually skew in favor of diluting ethnic features — lightening dark skin, narrowing broad noses and loosening coarse hair. It’s the type of logical standard that’s been used to categorize and subordinate people of color since America became America.
“Why do you always criticize white people? You’re part white.”
It’s strange how critiques of white supremacy and white privilege get interpreted as anti-white bigotry. It’s even stranger to assume that being part-white, or even completely white, means you’re somehow remiss in critiquing these oppressive systems.
When it comes down to it, dictating what a multiracial person can or cannot say, then citing race as the reason, is condescending and presumptuous. Not only does it rob them of the agency to express their own identity-based opinions, it does so regarding an issue that everyone should be speaking out against, regardless of race.
Simply put, being part white doesn’t mean a person’s feelings on this topic are any less valid. Multiracial Americans are victims of white supremacy, just like every other person of color.
The takeaway: The problem with these statements is that they try applying definitive rules to something that’s always been crude and malleable. Race is not a universal concept — the definitions we go by are often arbitrary, uniquely American and undergo dramatic shifts from one generation to the next.
To be multiracial in this context is to be treated as an inconvenient speedbump, something nobody knows quite what to do with but which constantly disrupts their attempts at hardline categorization. Perhaps it’s time to let multiracial people steer the conversation, instead of constantly having other who lack their lived experience define what they are, what they’re not and what they can be.
Rashida Jones was born February 25, 1976 to father Quincy Jones, an African American musician and Peggy Lipton, a white actress. Jones is one of those people who has it all. A natural beauty, she has twice been named People’s Magazine’s 50 most Beautiful People in the World. A talented and hard worker, she has gained much success in acting and comedy and has starred in shows such as “Parks and Recreation,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The Office,” to name a few.
As beautiful, funny and talented as she is, Rashida Jones has much more going on. In high school she worked hard and was inducted to the National Honor Society and voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” Jones also showed a brave and serious side when at the age of only 16 she wrote a public letter confronting rapper Tupac Shakur, who had criticized her father for marrying a white woman.
Jones went on to Harvard where she got a degree in religion and philosophy, but she also got involved in music and acting. She served as musical director for an a cappella group and acted in several school plays.
Yes, sometimes there is someone who seems to have it all – beauty, brains, courage, talent and wit – and Rashida Jones is one of them.
Rashida Jones is one of those people that everyone should look up. Throughout her entire life she has illustrated what a one of a kind person she is. Nothing and no one could get in the way of Rashida and her dreams.
(Reuters) – The California prison system has agreed to settle a long-running civil rights lawsuit by ending race-based lockdowns of inmates, court records show.
The 21-page stipulated settlement, which has not been filed in court but was published online by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, provides for lockdowns in the prison system of the country’s most populous state to now cover all inmates in a certain area or specific inmates deemed to pose a threat.
For lockdowns exceeding 14 days, the settlement also requires wardens to make plans for inmates to participate in outdoor activities.
“The prisons will still be able to maintain security, while prisoners will no longer be targeted for lengthy lockdowns just because of their race or ethnicity,” said Rebekah Evenson, an attorney for the prisoners.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Jeffrey Callison said in an email the department was pleased with the settlement and it started making the policy changes in May. The department did not concede to any violation of federal law in the settlement.
The case was filed in 2008 by High Desert State Prison inmate Robert Mitchell, who said it was the department’s policy that “when there is an incident involving any race, all inmates of that race are locked up,” court records show.
Mitchell said the policy violated prisoners’ constitutional rights, while prison system officials argued that it helped ensure safety after racially-fueled outbursts.
The case was certified as a class action in July to cover the state’s roughly 125,000 male inmates, court records show.
The proposed settlement will be sent to the class and discussed at a fairness hearing, and will require final approval by a federal judge, according to the document.
Have you ever tried to deal with the federal government? There are no good ways for us (the public) to have input into whatever it is that they (the federal government) wants to do. They think the way for us to speak our minds is through something you’ve probably have never heard of called the “Federal Register.”
The Federal Register is a publication put out by OUR government to elicit input from the public. It is not easily found, nor is it easily decipherable. It’s a feel good mechanism for federal agencies. They do offer a 109 page booklet called “Federal Register Document Drafting Handbook.” They also offer a very long tutorial. I could not find the answers to any questions I had in their booklet, in the tutorial, or on their website.
Make no mistake; the Federal Register exists only to allow the federal agencies to feel that they gave the public a chance to reply. They don’t really want or need our input.
I read the Federal Register every day. It’s boring and complex. I read it because occasionally a notice appears that may have implications for the multiracial community. The government knows we are here and watching, yet they do not notify us when something is going on that may affect us. I bet I’m the only person in the multiracial community who reads it every day and answers when it matters.
There is no real accountability in the federal government. The notices are packed with government jargon and intentionally make it difficult to get to the real issues. I came across a Federal Register notice several weeks ago that could have implications for Census Bureau testing, which does involve us. I had a question about it and emailed the person specifically designated in the notice “for further information.” The email came back to me as “undeliverable.” I called her. I have yet to receive a return call. Welcome to the public trying to deal with the federal government through their Federal Register.
I’ve spent several days trying to get more information so that I could make a public comment on behalf of the multiracial community. I have made no progress. I did email the Fed Reg (they like to be called that) people and I think their convoluted answer said they had no answers. They did add, “Our goal is to make it easy for you to communicate with the government.”
So the Fed Reg people sit on their well-paid duffs and say they are soliciting comments from the public. When you figure out how to do that, let me know.
PALO ALTO – Race can undoubtedly be a tricky subject, with any suggestion of genetic differences among racial groups – beyond superficial characteristics like skin color – potentially invoking memories of the nineteenth-century eugenics movement and its eventual role in Nazi ideology. Now, with drug companies increasingly seeking to develop medications that target particular racial groups, the long-taboo subject of racial genetics has reemerged.
Much of the current debate centers on whether race should be a criterion for inclusion in clinical trials – and, by extension, whether drug labeling should mention race specifically. Although the issues are complicated, the solution is simple: follow the data.
In fact, clinical trials are not intended to demonstrate the effectiveness of a treatment (drug, medical device, or other intervention) in a completely random sample from the general population. Rather, researchers “enrich” the study population by using a characteristic, such as age or laboratory-test results, to select a subset of patients in whom the intervention’s effects will likely be easier to detect than they would be in an unfiltered population. In recent years, “biomarkers,” such as certain DNA sequences or the presence of a particular drug receptor, have become increasingly important indicators for determining eligibility for clinical trials.
This approach is not new. For example, scientists have known for decades that certain drugs can cause severe and precipitous anemia in people with a genetic deficiency of the enzyme G6PD. More recently, researchers have learned that certain cancer drugs are ineffective in fighting tumors containing the mutated variant of the gene KRAS.
Such discoveries have enhanced researchers’ ability to enrich study populations with patients who are likely to benefit from the drug, while sparing from any possible side effects of exposure those patients who are unlikely to benefit. Enrichment thus enables researchers to strengthen clinical trials’ “statistical power,” that is, the probability of detecting differences, if any exist, between study groups.
Given that a larger number of subjects or iterations enhances an experiment’s ability to detect all of the relevant effects, which bolsters confidence in the result, outcomes of small studies tend to imply significant uncertainty – unless the intervention’s effects are potent. Enrichment allows researchers to perform smaller, more informative trials by helping them to design studies that will show a high “relative treatment difference” between the drug and whatever it is being compared to (often a placebo, but sometimes another treatment).
In the 1980’s, a biomarker contributed to the success of the small but seminal clinical trial of human growth hormone in children who were unable to produce it naturally. Some children lose the ability to make growth hormone due to injury or tumors; others lack normal growth-hormone activity from birth, owing to a genetic mutation; and others are missing the gene that codes for the hormone altogether.
Giving the latter group exogenous growth hormone is futile, because their immune systems react to the “foreign” protein by producing antibodies. Although the hormone may stimulate growth for a short period, the antibodies soon bind and neutralize it.
By limiting the study population to children in the other two groups, for whom exogenous growth hormone stimulates normal growth, researchers achieved a 100% relative treatment difference. In other words, every subject who received the active drug responded, and none of those who received the placebo did. Given this result, US regulators approved the treatment for marketing based on a trial of only 28 patients.
Clearly, genetic markers are useful in designing clinical trials. But are more subjective factors like race or ethnicity also relevant?
For the cardiac drug BiDil (a combination of the vasodilators hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate), the answer is yes. In 1996, inconclusive clinical trials led US regulators to reject the drug. But when more detailed analysis of the data revealed potentially elevated benefits for black patients, a new trial was performed on 1,050 self-identified “black” patients with severe heart failure for whom available treatments had proved ineffective.
The results – a 43% reduction in mortality and a 39% decrease in hospital visits among patients who received BiDil – were so striking that the study was concluded early. Although BiDil has not been a great commercial success since its approval in 2009, it remains on the market.
Some regard race-based medical treatment as necessary to reduce health disparities, while others view it as downright discriminatory. When BiDil was approved, Francis Collins, who was Director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute at the time, warned that “we should move without delay from blurry and potentially misleading surrogates for drug response, such as race, to the more specific causes.”
Of course, Collins was correct; race is a crude and incomplete mechanism for understanding genetic differences. But we must fight illness with the data we have, not the data we wish we had. Political and ethical sensitivities notwithstanding, drug testing, approval, and labeling must go wherever the evidence leads.
Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-value-of-race-in-clinical-trials-by-henry-i–miller#pRKKSm3b9Pex4UPD.99
The story below has a lot of meaning to me. I couldn’t believe it when I read the title, “Hapa changes name to Association of Multiracial People at Tufts to reflect new goals.” During the 1990s when the split happened with several organizations representing the multiracial population, the word “hapa” was one reason. “Hapa” literally means “half” in Native Hawaiian and the hapa leadership argued that they disagreed with the terminology of “multiracial.” They nixed “multiracial” in favor of “hapa” while I was busy trying to make them understand that multiracial is a much broader term, respectable, and people are already familiar with it.
They “won” and it was decided by everyone but Project RACE and one or two others that they didn’t need any word if hapas could not have their word. It was divisive and disastrous.
According to the article, the group at Tufts is trying to come across as a less exclusive club, open to all multiracial people. What a concept—exactly what Project RACE has been doing for 25 years. Congratulations to the Association of Multiracial People at Tufts (AMPT) for showing inclusive behavior and forward thinking leadership.
Hapa changes name to Association of Multiracial People at Tufts to reflect new goals
For the Association of Multiracial People at Tufts (AMPT), there is a lot in a name. AMPT, formerly known as Tufts Hapa, aims to create a community for students who identify as persons of mixed heritage. Though the name change may seem subtle to some, it now better reflects the target demographic of the group, according to Co-President Zoe Uvin.
According to Uvin, a senior, “hapa” means “half” in Native Hawaiian and is often used to refer to people who identify as a mix of two races. However, this choice of terminology made it seem like the club had a limited scope of interest.
“The term ‘Hapa’ has the connotation of being half-Asian, so I think the name change definitely reflected our priorities much more,” Uvin said. “We’re an association, not a political group or movement of any kind, and we wanted any person who is multiracial, or feels that their family or community makes their identity multiracial, to feel welcomed to join us.”
The name change has been favorably received, according to treasurer Rachel Steindler, a sophomore.
“We’re getting a lot of new faces … people are hearing about us, because we changed our name,” Steindler said. “So it’s kind of a publicity thing, but it’s very much about trying to advertise that we’re a multiracial community that isn’t specific to half-Asians. We were never meant to be exclusive; we always had this goal in mind, but it seemed like we were only attracting half-Asian people, so we really wanted to make it clear.”
According to Uvin, more new upperclassmen than freshmen showed up at their first potluck event, which Uvin attributes to the club’s wider and more approachable demographic scope.
“On top of getting great feedback from members, what made me feel great was seeing a Tufts Confession posting a link to the AMPT page saying, ‘Hey you might want to check this out,’” Uvin said. “I really think this is becoming a [club] where you can read the name and it makes much more sense who we are and what we’re about, so it’s much more approachable.”
The ultimate aim of AMPT, according to Uvin, is to participate in the campus culture of ethnic and cultural groups, clubs and societies, and to foster awareness of multiracial culture on campus.
“Our goal is to create a space for multiracial students and faculty,” Uvin said. “The founding members noticed how there were no cultural groups that catered just to the multiracial experience, and we wanted to create a space just for that.”
AMPT plans a variety of activities in order to create a welcome environment for multiracial students, including potlucks with informal discussions on multiraciality, academic lectures and joint events with mixed-race groups from other Boston schools. According to Uvin, these are all organized by the club’s executive board, which meets once a week to plan events for the semester.
“The potlucks are just to eat food and realize there are so many multiracials on campus of so many mixes, of so many backgrounds, but that we all have something in common, that our multiracial experience has changed the way we have gone through life and the way we’ve interacted at Tufts,” Uvin said. “We can connect over something other people might not understand.”
The group puts a particular emphasis on the potlucks, where students can discuss identity, talk about issues concerning multiraciality and share their stories, Uvin said.
“The discussions [at potlucks] made me think of multiracial [matters] that I never really thought of before, but [which] pertained to me,” sophomore Andrew Narahara said. “I’m half-Asian, half-white, but I’ve always considered myself Asian, and [the discussions] opened my eyes to the multiracial side of me.”
One distinctive feature of AMPT is its heterogeneous nature. Along with members of racial mixes, the group includes members who aren’t mixed themselves, and instead joined out of interest in their multiracial family or home situations.
“Personally, I’m not a multiracial person, but I come from a multiracial family, and I found a really great community in AMPT because I can identify with the experiences of multiracial people,” Steindler said. “I’m adopted [and Asian] and my mother is white, so when we talk about family dynamics, I can identify with [other members’] racial identity development in terms of having someone of a different race as a parent.”
In tandem with its new name, AMPT has set some new goals. According to Uvin, when the club was originally founded Joseph Wat (LA ’13) hosted potlucks at his house. Now the club hopes to host events on a consistent bi-monthly basis, instead of simply whenever possible.
AMPT has also been actively recruiting for its executive board to allow the group to continue after its founding members graduate. With a board already comprised of four sophomores, and with multiple freshmen interested in applying, the club hopes to continue spreading awareness about multiracial identity throughout the Tufts community, according to Uvin.
“Our recruiting method is so active because we really want [the executive board members] to feel personally invested in the club, so that when we leave they will still have a personal connection with the group,” she said.
Recruiting new members is also intended to support existing members of the multiracial community.
“We hope to offer something to them that makes their time at Tufts better or more manageable, and hopefully they will want to give that to the future generation and continue this tradition,” Uvin said.
A biologist, a chemist, and a statistician are out hunting. The biologist shoots at a deer and misses five feet to the left, the chemist takes a shot and misses five feet to the right, and the statistician yells, “We got ‘em!”
I spent the better part of last week watching to a webcast of The National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations (NAC). It reminded me of the little scenario above, because the results in no way added up to the goal or the end result. OK, I’m not sure they actually had a goal, but they should have. Instead they spent more time talking about what they wanted to do without actually doing anything.
I do know one thing for sure: the United States Census Bureau has proven that the multiracial community does not exist. We have no representation on the committee, but all of the other populations are represented very well. They even added some new communities, such as the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) group and people with a brand new acronym, MENA (Middle Eastern and North African).
I think I heard the term “multiracial” uttered twice. “Mixed” was said once or twice. Two days of approximately 50 people in one room talking about race and ethnicity and not stopping to wonder what our group could contribute, including what they call us?
The speakers all followed the same format; one person would tell everyone what they were going to tell them. Another person would then read to the group whatever was on a slide in their slide deck. Someone would let the room know when they were done saying what they had to say and then it was time for questions. They had devised some kind of scheme for where to place their name cards, but apparently that didn’t work so they had to change it. There was actually a discussion about which way the tables should be placed. The sound quality was terrible.
Everyone cared about their own special interest group, which bogged down each discussion. Well, that’s not exactly right. The person representing the LGBT group wanted more attention paid to counting homeless Americans, but no one responded to that suggestion. One person called herself a “race and gender scholar.” Believe me, the place was full of them and they spent most of the time telling each other what a great job they were doing and thanking the Census Bureau folks.
The star of the show was clearly Nicholas Jones, whose real title is “Chief, Racial Statistical Branch, Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.” He makes the decisions about race. You’ll just have to trust me on this. He proudly proclaimed that he and his staff have met with the Arab, Asian, Latino, Afro-Latino, and Civil Rights groups in preparation for the 2020 Census. Can you think of a stakeholder group Jones did not meet with? Score yourself a point if you picked the multiracial group.
In thinking about this situation, I came to the conclusion that the government does not understand or believe that the multiracial population is a community. No, we’re not a community that usually agrees on all of the same basic principles, but we are a community nevertheless. The Census Bureau has taken the community out of the multiracial population and our community let it happen. As much as Project RACE has tried to stay on the radar, by monitoring the Federal Register daily, emailing our concerns to the various committees, nominating people to the NAC, and much more, we have missed the advisory committee boat. It’s just kind of floating out there wondering where it’s going.
There was a great deal of talk about “equity and balance” with all groups. Sorry, if it didn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling, but we were not at the table to revel in it with the others. Yet, I did get a lot of information. I learned about the concerns of communities that were invited to the table. I also saw how full of themselves the government employees and academics really are. It was hardly wasted time. But as a United States citizen and taxpayer, I couldn’t help but wonder how much this ostentatious meeting of self-professed brilliant people who never did come to any good outcomes from this meeting cost.
Well into the final hours, everyone did agree that they all wanted to be on the Race and Ethnicity Working Group. Oh yeah, that’s where the action is. Who wants to deal with Administrative Records Modeling or figuring out how to optimize response to the Census, or designing the mailer when you can be discussing race and ethnicity? Then it happened. Someone realized that there is no longer a Race and Ethnicity Working Group! Its Chairperson had rotated off the Committee and no one really thought about extending this important group. That prompted a long discussion about whether they should even have such a group.
Ann Morning, an academic who has written a few things here and there about the multiracial population announced her feeling: it’s too much work. Yes, a working group is supposed to W-O-R-K. Does Ann Morning represent the multiracial community? No.
Someone did come up with the idea of a subcommittee (strike that, they can’t be called subcommittees) for the AIAN (American Indian Alaskan Native) category because they have some “name problems” much like the multiracial population. But then someone brought up the question of what should be done with “dissenters.” I swear. Someone else said they didn’t like the term “dissenters,” because it’s just too darn negative. Firing squad?
I honestly question the need for the whole lot of them. The real crux of the issues is what Nicholas Jones presented in a webinar four days before this meeting! Let’s face it, friends, Nicholas Jones has worked everything out to his satisfaction long before he even gets to these meetings. He’s not the kind of guy you would seek out to tell him he’s wrong.
I admit I did learn a lot from this meeting, mostly from the ideas of the participants from the other special interest stakeholder groups. Oh, and mark your calendars now—the next NAC meeting will be March 26 and 27, 2015. You won’t want to miss the show.