Funny…it’s been roughly five years that I’ve had the pleasure of blogging for milwaukeemoms and I don’t think I’ve ever said “Thank you” to you – the person who reads these posts. So…thank you. Truly thank you for reading my thoughts, my opinions, my worries, my, my, my…there’s just a lot of me wrapped up in what I write. And most times it’s my opinion on GeeGee’s life. What about her opinion, her voice?
How does she feel about “The Great Box-Checking Dilemma?” About a hundred years ago, I lamented the fact that I couldn’t check two boxes for GeeGee’s race on some registration form, even though she is two races. Most recently, I vented about it on my personal blog. Both were about how box-checking impacts me, not her.
Maybe I was being selfish and had never considered how she’d handle the same dilemma. Or maybe I was just hoping she'd never have to deal with it. That was unrealistic, it was bound to happen sooner or later, and it did. So, here’s GeeGee's viewpoint (with some add-ins from me, of course).
“Mom, I have to talk to you about a test we took today. There was a part for Ethnicity…you know, where you color in the oval for Black, White, Hispanic, Asian…So I raised my hand and told the teacher that I’m two things. My teacher told me I could only pick one. So I did.
It kind of made me mad.”
IMPORTANT NOTE HERE: It wasn’t the teacher who was making her choose and I knew that. These were standardized tests where the computer gets confused about two ovals within the same field being completed. In all honesty, I feel badly that a system puts teachers in the delicate position of telling kids what she had to tell GeeGee that day. I explained that and more. But this post is about GeeGee’s response, not mine.
The next day on the way to school, we talked about it a little bit more.
“I filled in the oval for ‘Black.’ But I’m both. It was kind of like that guy who was at the Black History Program. [We heard “that guy” speak nearly a year ago. He’s a pastor who talked about the very same thing. He's Black, Scottish, French and Spanish if I’m remembering correctly. He told the story of running into the same thing when registering for college. He emphasized that people aren’t just “one thing” and evidently, it resonated with GeeGee]
It’s kind of stupid…I mean, why can’t there just be a form where you can fill out as many ethnicities as you want? It just kind of makes me mad.”
That was GeeGee’s response. Now here’s the Protective-Slightly-Irked Momma Bear’s opinion: I don’t like her being mad – mad about an antiquated system, nonetheless. One that doesn’t recognize the browning of our communities or the difference between race and ethnicity for that matter. Listen, I know that we’re all human – but we’re all different kinds of humans, and so there is some value in demographic tracking.
But the last thing I want for my child is having to pick that she’s “Mom’s kid” but not “Dad’s kid” or vice versa. Narrowing selections to “one only” in the ethnicity section does exactly that. In my view, it robs a little of GeeGee's identity each time she does it.
And that kind of makes me mad.