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Leonicka Valcius

Leonicka Valcius: December 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Race/Ethnicity: ____________

I hate filling that blank - or worse picking a label from a list. Always have and probably always will. When filling forms I usually leave it blank or chose "Prefer Not to Answer." When that option isn't available and I am told I must answer I tend to become quite ornery.  I distinctly remember giving elementary school teachers headaches with my protest. "But I'm not African - American," I would complain. "I'm not even American!"

Many years and many forms later, I can finally articulate what bothered me about that question. I don't like to be boxed in. I don't want to be part of the statistics of how well or poorly x percent of black/ African - American / [insert vogue term used by the majority to Other minorities] perform on standardized tests. I don't want to be admitted to an institution so they can meet their quota or use me as their token. I had no interest in "reclaiming" a label originally used to marginalize me.

So, when faced with the same quandary as I  created a profile on a dating website (You don't want to know... Well, maybe you do but I'm not telling :P ) I reacted as I always did: I left it blank. The choices were ridiculously limited anyhow and I didn't want to be filtered out any results if someone happened to refine their search by race.

Cue the paranoid insecure little girl inside my head. Among many other doubts I began having, I also was reconsidering my decision. Just because I am comfortable with interracial relationship doesn't  the other person is. Though I rarely came across a profile that listed a particular race/ethnicity in the "What I look for in a partner" section it is likely the omission is due to a sense of political correctness. (One guy did include ethnicity in his laundry list of qualities a partner must have. He self-identified as Caucasian but was looking for "non-Caucasian women; preferably Middle Eastern or South Asian." It's not my place to judge but take from that what you will.) This is not a post-racist world.

I took the advice of my inner worrywart and of a close friend and added race to my profile. I am now listed under "black" - whatever that means. To be perfectly honest, I don't want any surprises and I don't want to be a surprise.  Besides, if someone is filtering their results by race, I probably don't want them to find me anyway.

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