The United States Department of Health has issued a policy declaration that effective January 1, 2014, the item race will be eliminated from all birth certificates issued in the United States and territories thereof. Notification has gone out to all hospitals and physicians assuring their compliance by the deadline.
The United States Government has determined that the assigning of racial designation to its citizens has heretofore served the purpose of establishing superiority vs. inferiority among is citizens. Its use has led to divisive practices throughout history. As such, mandatory reporting of race has impeded the rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness for an inordinate number of the citizenry, deeming such reporting unconstitutional.
Those of you who have fled before reading paragraph three are probably emailing your congressmen, and tweeting everyone you know. Hopefully, you’ll return from your frenzy and ponder the question: What if?
Over the years I’ve been told repeatedly by well-meaning, even sincere people, “Amy, when I see you, I don’t see color.” And I think: “Unless you’re sight impaired of course you see color. And why not see it? Actually, my deep bronze copper is quite a pretty color if I say so myself. What you mean is that you don’t see my category; you don’t see my historically designated inferiority … and for that I commend you.
“All well and good,” you say, “but I’m proud of my race, and you’ll be robbing me of my heritage, my racial pride.”
- Yes, I understand where you’re coming from, but when you really think about it, the races are intertwined in our county’s history.
“This is the greatest county in the world, and it was founded and built by White people.”
- But remember, this country was built on the backs of slaves; free labor that forged the foundation of America.
“Hold it! We Black people have struggled to be recognized as actors, executives, even Nobel Prize winners. I’m not willing to give up that proud legacy.
- Accomplishments will continue, but hopefully without the struggle.
“My race is part of my God-given identity.”
- When God breathed life into Adam, did it ever occur to you that He had a reason not to identify Adam by color?.
“I’ll have none of this! You’re promoting racial mixing.”
- In some states there was a time that it was unlawful for Blacks and Whites to marry. But the day the first slave master crept into the slave quarters and spread his seed among the women, the races were mixed for eternity. In good and in evil, our lives are intertwined
“Oh yeah, they’ll pass this law, and people will just find another way to discriminate. It’s human nature.”
- Remember “back in the day” when Civil Rights legislation was being talked about and southerners said you can’t change people’s hearts? Well in actuality, laws were passed that changed people’s behavior, and as a result of increased contact with one another, the perceptions, and, yes, the hearts of many people were changed for the better.
Race is no longer simply a Black//White phenomenon in America. In its October 2013 issue, National Geographic did a pictorial essay on the younger generation of “Other.” Young people of bi/multi-racial parents self-identified based on their own perceptions of race.
Online ancestral sites, as well as mail-order DNA have identified mixed heritage among people who previously considered themselves a member of one particular race. To say nothing of the Black American carryovers from the 2% standard, even if they were 98% something else. Placed under intense scrutiny that “Other” category increases in leaps and bounds. Anthropologists have observed the historical shifts in racial definition, and have determined that race is a creation of man.
Just think for a moment. Why is it so important for you to hold on to a separate racial identity? Can we aim higher … can we shift the paradigm? What if we could see our beautiful diversity, go beyond racial pride and take personal pride in all of humanity?
It’s almost incomprehensible to me that in my lifetime, people in America, the leader of the civilized world, actually swung other people by the neck from trees because they were the wrong race. As I project my thoughts into the future, I can imagine my grandchildren (having reached their seventies) looking back over their lifetime and relating stories of the incomprehensible categorization of human beings by race. In their future world, they see unity fashioned from diversity: the multihued face of God, created in the image of God. After all, there is only one true race, and its name is Human. .
It would be wonderful if when we look at every single being, our first thought would be “this being matters, their freedom and happiness is important”. Then our hearts of compassion will open up and all we will be able to feel is love for all. Thanks Amy for an inspiring piece.
Thanks, Danielle. We are certainly in agreement. Happy Holidays.
Thanks for a wonderful piece, Amy. A person can still take pride in their ancestry without having to record it on a government form. It’s interesting, though, that you’re focusing on the necessity of a racial designation on birth certificates; can there also be a future where that information isn’t collected by the census? Or would that be different? I suppose that collecting information on race in the census can be used to try to detect discrimination on the local government level–to see, for example, whether funding levels for services vary in different parts of a state based on the community’s racial makeup–but in some future if the country stops noticing racial makeup at all, would that even be necessary?
Warren – Thanks for your well thought out comments. I see the practicality of what you are saying, but at the same time the blog is “visionary,” looking ahead to the time where there will be no need for protection at the local level because it will no longer be a part of the national consciousness.
Amy, this is a challenging proposition, because of the practicalities Warren suggests and
also because of that sense of giving up one’s “identity” –something that presses on us in political and religious dialogue. The desperate need to protect what we assume must be our individual identity lies beneath passive and active aggression. I like this blog as a reminder to myself to keep questioning what my own assumptions are with “white privilege.” Yes, yes to the vision.
Barb – This is my most controversial blog to date. What I love is that it has inspired many thought provoking responses, not just on the blog site but in emails sent to me. I welcome the opportunity to stimulate thought, rather than just getting rubber stamped approval. Thanks for taking the time to add your comments.
Amy, I so agree with you, but I could not have expressed myself as well as you did.
Elfriede – Thanks for your encouraging remarks.