Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's a Matter of Race: How the Government Confused Millions

What Race are you?

Never shy to discuss a topic in detail, I picked up the story of how the census confused millions of Latinos around the country. At the end of the day, language is about communication. On this topic I have to actually ... DRUM ROLL... agree with the government. I know, stop laughing. It happens sometimes. Who'da thunk it? Me, Mister Antiestablishment, agreeing with "THE MAN". Ah well, I never close my brain off to the truth, even if it comes from the mouths of devils. So let's get into the story.

As I said, it is language that is best suited for communication, that gets lost on an uneducated population. No, I am NOT calling Latinos uneducated, although I am sure there are some, but I am calling the entire United States uneducated. *SHOCK* I'm sure you're not shocked by that. How can I make such a sweeping generalization? And, yes I am guilty too. Noone checked the definition of the word RACE.

I'm ashamed really. I count myself as an educated man, given to knowing the definitions of all terms, in English.

Picture this, I read this story and nearly fell out my chair laughing at my own stupidity. So the story goes that on the U.S. census, there were two questions which asked what RACE you are. The first one described the two major races on the planet: Black or White. Then the next one went into a bit more detail.

So what's the problem? The problem is that Latino is not a RACE. So there was no category for Latino in the questionnaire. The person had to literally say what race they were. All semblance of nationality were thrown out the window, because the question is not what nationality you are, nor is it what's your social background. For its part the government was using the scientific or clinical definition of race. We hear the word "race" used in everyday-speak in a very lazy way. This only serves to breakdown our own communication.

As the story unfolded, they found that millions of Latinos were both confused and incensed by this.

But, if you stop and think about it, Latino is not a race. The word Latino describes at least 3 different races. It is a broad word that covers almost half the globe, if you want to be technical.

So the government gave us all a lesson in English.

I find it funny. I got a good chuckle out of it. And, who is the biggest enemy, we can all point the finger at? The news. The news has done more to miseducate Americans than any other source of information.

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