18 February 2014

Ethnicity please

So, my “million mile medical tune up/service” continued this morning with a CT scan. I have experienced a wide variety of such scans in the past six months. This one involved strangely warming dye being injected into my body. It was no problem. I’ve become accustomed to such things.

The real issue began before I got onto the table that drove me into the machine. I had to fill out yet another form/survey. I could not believe the stupidity of some of the questions. I can only assume that this was some government-inspired way to get lots of personal information about me.

Here was the worst of the questions, in my opinion. The question asks: “What is your ethnicity?” Possible answers were, of course, supplied. The choices? “Hispanic or Latino”; Not Hispanic or Latino”; “US Ancestry”; “Unknown”; “Declined”; “Other”.

So MY questions include, what does "US Ancestry” mean? Why are neither African-American nor Caucasian listed? Evidently Asians don’t need to be counted, either. Who created this questionnaire? Then there is the question we taught our children to ask, “who wants to know?”

Is there an agenda here? I went to “Uncle Google” (actually Goodsearch) to find some info. The agenda was not clearly revealed. I found very little having to do with hospitals and other medical facilities. What I did find was that the US Census Bureau has mandated ethnicity questions since 1997.

U.S. federal government agencies must adhere to standards issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in October 1997, which specify that race and Hispanic origin (also known as ethnicity) are two separate and distinct concepts. These standards generally reflect a social definition of race and ethnicity recognized in this country, and they do not conform to any biological, anthropological, or genetic criteria. The standards include five minimum categories for data on race: "American Indian or Alaska Native," "Asian," "Black or African American," "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander," and "White." There are two minimum categories for data on ethnicity: "Hispanic or Latino" and "Not Hispanic or Latino." The concept of race reflects self-identification by people according to the race or races with which they most closely identify. Persons who report themselves as Hispanic can be of any race and are identified as such in our data tables. (http://www.census.gov/population/hispanic/about/faq.html).
So race and ethnicity are different. Not only that, but "Hispanics" can claim any racial group they like. I would imagine that to give quite an advantage in some aspects of life - like seeking scholarships, grants, or other quota-driven benefits.

Is there a subtle racism (or ethnicism) going on here? I don't know. I do know that this was one of the strangest surveys I've ever seen. And it disturbed me. 

BTW, I answered "Other: Western European."

"Press 1 for English."


  1. Interesting. As one of your "little brown brothers" of Filipino-Spanish extraction, I can claim "Hispanic/Latino-non-white," or "Asian-Pacific Islander," or just plain "Hispanic/Latino." Which is it? Who cares! At Covenant Sem. and in the context of the PCA, I was called a "coconut" (brown on the outside. white on the inside) by some Elder Delegates at a General Assy. meeting. In the Philippines, I'd be classified as a "mestizo," or person of mixed European and Malaysian ancestry. In the States, I'm either a "Mexican" out West, and a "Puerto Rican" in the East. Although I am neither, I've defaulted to whatever The Man wants to call me.

  2. Funny, I always thought you were just short.

    BTW, I am not shocked about the PCA incident.

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  4. Yeah, that was the 1985 GA in St. Louis when I attended as a delegate from Grace & Peace, one of the host churches that helped distribute papers and reports and Holy Communion during the opening Service. During a business meeting, some delegates (commissioners) called to me in the aisles, "Hey, coconut, I need some more papers here!" The term "coconut" was mentioned from the stage in the context of a missions report from Latin America.

    That was a deal breaker for me. I eventually found a ministry in the Reformed Church in America after realizing that I'd have been a damned fool to stay in the PCA.

  5. I lasted a bit longer, but did leave.