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Author Topic: Proof of Race
Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Related to the "Fake" Tribes thread, I thought of this question that has hit me several times over the years...

A guy walks into a military recruiting office to enlist. Claiming to be of a particular tribal background, the recruiter writes it all down and says that to get "credit" for the affiliation, he would have to bring in his tribal papers that proved his affiliation.

Pointing to the dark-skinned man in the back of the office, the applicant says, "You didn't ask HIM to prove his race, did you?"

Supposedly there was a subsequent lawsuit and it ended up being illegal to ask for tribal affiliation proof!

Has anyone heard of this? Am I on drugs? Will the White Sox win the pennant? Will Audrey accept Gavin's apology? I'll tune in tomorrow for the latest update in the Confuse Malruhn Show.

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Groundhog
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I do recall one case in the mid 90s of a woman who worked for a municipal government (I want to say Kansas City but I'm not sure) who was of particularly light skin but claimed African-American on her application. She has to use parent and grandparent birth certificates to prove her race.
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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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I think you may have a misunderstanding about how racial classification works to the benefit of a member of that race, and why someone claiming to be Native American would have to demonstrate proof of tribal membership.

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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quote:
Originally posted by Groundhog:
I do recall one case in the mid 90s of a woman who worked for a municipal government (I want to say Kansas City but I'm not sure) who was of particularly light skin but claimed African-American on her application. She has to use parent and grandparent birth certificates to prove her race.

Cite, please.

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GenYus
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It is actually fairly easy. A person claiming to be Native American is given a buffalo and required to use every part of the buffalo. How much of the buffalo is used will determine how much NA they are. So if they use 1/16 of the buffalo, then they are considered 1/16 NA and qualify.

ETA: The short version is to show them a picture of a polluted meadow. If they cry, they are NA.

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IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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Sharpened Steel
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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
the recruiter writes it all down and says that to get "credit" for the affiliation, he would have to bring in his tribal papers that proved his affiliation.

Pointing to the dark-skinned man in the back of the office, the applicant says, "You didn't ask HIM to prove his race, did you?"

I think this is part of the confusion. The recruiter wasn't asking for proof of his race he was asking for proof of his affiliation , which are two different things.

If the recruiter was asking for the proof of affiliation so that he had proof that the man was Native American, that would be one thing. As I understand it, though, each tribe has a different agreement with the government about just about everything, so maybe there were special priviledges that the particular tribe he was claiming would recieve (wow, that was a terrible sentence). In that case, he would have to prove his right to those priviledges, otherwise the tribe and the government would be at odds.

Without more information, it's hard to say which it is. The important thing is that race and tribe affiliation are not the same thing (as far as my native american friends have explained it to me).

Edit to add: GenYus, YOMANK

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Nick Theodorakis
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quote:
Originally posted by GenYus:
...

ETA: The short version is to show them a picture of a polluted meadow. If they cry, they are NA.

Even that isn't definitive.

Nick

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GenYus
Away in a Manager's Special


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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Theodorakis:
quote:
Originally posted by GenYus:
...

ETA: The short version is to show them a picture of a polluted meadow. If they cry, they are NA.

Even that isn't definitive.

Nick

But note that the tear he shed is fake (glycerine). He had to do that because he wasn't a real NA. If he had been a real NA, then he would have shed real tears. So during the test I detailed, make sure the applicant doesn't have a tube of glycerine.

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IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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Nick Theodorakis
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Well played.

Nick

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GenYus
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Thanks.

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IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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Hero_Mike
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GenYus, I'm of eastern-European ancestry, but I can use the Buffalo wing better than anyone I know. What does that make me?

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Jonny T
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a chef?

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GenYus
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Weight of Buffalo: 1,800 lbs
Weight of Buffalo Wing: 4 oz / pair

.25 / 1800 = 1/7200

You are 1/7200 Native American

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IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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Kahuna Burger
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quote:
Originally posted by Sharpened Steel:
quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
the recruiter writes it all down and says that to get "credit" for the affiliation, he would have to bring in his tribal papers that proved his affiliation.

Pointing to the dark-skinned man in the back of the office, the applicant says, "You didn't ask HIM to prove his race, did you?"

I think this is part of the confusion. The recruiter wasn't asking for proof of his race he was asking for proof of his affiliation , which are two different things.

this is what I was thinking as well. Claiming membership in a tribal nation is, in some situations, a whole different kettle of swimmy things than merely a statement of race.

To use a probably flawed analogy, if there was a system set up to give individual reperations to descendants of slaves, it would not be a matter of proving your race, but your actual descent. Any "credit" the native american in this story would be given for his trial affiliation would be much closer to that sort of situation than a simple AA program.

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educatedindian
I Saw Three Shipments


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I'm a vet, just like most every Native male I've ever known. The first time I enlisted was the Navy at 17, where they marked me as "white".

With bad and uncorrectable eyesight I was discharged after a few weeks. Joined the army a couple years later. (The recruiter "advised" the army doctor to ignore my vision problems.) I'm also Mexican, and the recruiter told the group of us, "All of you Mexicans, put down white for race." Lots of groaning, and half of us refused to.

In grad school I wrote my dissertation on Native vets. What I found was that recruiters decide "race". Up to the mid 60s they only had categories of white or colored. Every researcher writing on Native vets has faced the problem of not having any certainty of just how many Native vets there were.

Oh yeah, no such thing as "tribal papers." It's an ID card, not too different from your driver's license. There's also a CDIB, Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood, that's used for Indian Health Service. Despite the name it's also like a card like your DL.

So I never heard of anything like this, and the guy telling you this was probably on drugs. Or more likely, another Angry White Guy nursing an unreasonable grudge:

"This damn minorities! They get all the good jobs! They get to go die in Iraq instead of us Ree-yull 'Mericans!"

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Salamander
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I think it would boil down to entitlements, wouldn't it?

I know that most personal-identity forms in Australia have a section asking if you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (this is the only question about race asked on any form that I've ever seen). I believe if you tick either of those boxes you are obliged to provide some form of proof -- the reason basically being that Aboriginals/Torres Strait Islanders are entitled to certain benefits and/or exemptions.

The Government is hardly going to provide those benefits/exemptions just because you ticked a box. What would stop us all from ticking the box otherwise?

So... working under the assumption that there is benefit in being NA, you'd have to provide proof that you are entitled to the benefit. Although I hate to draw an analogy between being NA and being disabled... it'd be like applying for a job but asking for a medical exemption to avoid certain tasks -- they'll want official proof.

If being NA entitles a person to absolutely nothing in comparison to any other US citizen then there would be no point in asking them to verify their race. Actually there'd be no point in asking anyone their race at all, I think.

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Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by educatedindian:
I'm a vet, just like most every Native male I've ever known. The first time I enlisted was the Navy at 17, where they marked me as "white".

Heh... sorry, but I had to read this twice. First time I was thinking "What? Most native men are qualified veterinarians? Wow... must be a lot of demand for vets in the US."

Then the reference to the Navy finally clicked. I'm having a very dense day it seems.

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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I do not know of any benefit a member of the military who is native American receives, as such, would not need to "prove" his race to anybody.

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educatedindian
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:

If being NA entitles a person to absolutely nothing in comparison to any other US citizen then there would be no point in asking them to verify their race. Actually there'd be no point in asking anyone their race at all, I think.

Sure there would.

How about tracking discrimination, poverty, incarceration rates, education, health risks, etc, among certain groups?

In California they tried passing a referendum to bar the collection of data mentioning "race". That's akin to banning hospital emergency rooms to try and stop heart attacks and car accidents.

In much of Latin America, (Brazil, for example) govts often officially refuse to admit they have problems with racism or gather data on the problems. Thus insuring the problems continue.

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Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by educatedindian:
quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:

If being NA entitles a person to absolutely nothing in comparison to any other US citizen then there would be no point in asking them to verify their race. Actually there'd be no point in asking anyone their race at all, I think.

Sure there would.

How about tracking discrimination, poverty, incarceration rates, education, health risks, etc, among certain groups?

Sorry, I'd switched back to thinking about the OP which was framed as enrolment into the military. I don't particularly see any benefit to them even asking "what race are you?" other than for statistical purposes -- as such, there would really be no need for anyone to prove anything.

I wholeheartedly agree with you in terms of tracking social issues, then recording racial information would be an important piece of the jigsaw.
quote:
In California they tried passing a referendum to bar the collection of data mentioning "race". That's akin to banning hospital emergency rooms to try and stop heart attacks and car accidents.
How so? I mean, was the referendum to ban *all* collection of racial information or was it only for specific things?

For instance, in terms of conducting a census I think it would be vital for such information to be included. Do you need your race on your driver's license (I have no idea if this is done)? Not so much.

quote:
In much of Latin America, (Brazil, for example) govts often officially refuse to admit they have problems with racism or gather data on the problems. Thus insuring the problems continue.
So gathering data on race would actually stop the Governments from ignoring the issue of racism? I'm sorry, I don't think the problem is lack of data -- it is inherent attitudes. No amount of statistical data is likely to change that.

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El Camino
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I've always wondered what would happen if I marked "Asian" on some form, like my college or internship application. I'm not actually sure the Asian status would help at all, because Asians aren't really an "underrepresented minority" which is what all the internships or going for.

The way I see it, I'm half Hungarian. Hungarians are in large part decended from the Magyar tribe, which migrated east of the Ural mountains. Thus, if you take your definition of Asian as "ancestrally derived from Asia," I fit the bill to a decent extent, and you only have to go back about a millenium or so!

If you want to go back further, we all basically came from Africa, and thus any person in America could qualify as "African American."

I mean, race is such a silly, poorly defined thing anyway. I have a few friends who are partialy minorities but look nothing like their ancestry would indicate. One is half Asian, half Western European - and looks entirely white. Another is half-Venezuelan, half-Irish, and he looks entirely Irish, not at all hispanic. Another friend is half-Porteguese, half-Irish, and looks infinitely more hispanic than him (even though she isn't, really).

It's silly, because for a person of "mixed race," the race that they look like is basically just a matter of probability.

Eh, regardless...affirmative action and other situations where minority status confers an advantage make it important for having a way of determing "who's who" besides just looking at someone.

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me, no really
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From what I understand, A lot of the race tick boxes in Australia are for exactly that purpose - to try and keep statistics on discrimination etc. Most of the forms I have seen also make it an optional question, so you are not forced to answer it if you don't wish to. The one exception I have seen is that there are some government benefits only available to people in various categories (Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander, refugees etc). In order to be entitled to those benefits you need to be able to prove membership of the appropriate group.

me

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Dropbear
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In Australia the level of proof required depends on why the information is being gathered. In most health and human service related areas there is a question on intake forms about whether the person is aboriginal or torres strait islander. There is no 'proof' required because the data collected is simply about assessing the numbers of people from A/TIS backgrounds using the service in order to get accurate demographic pictures for quality assurance and planning purposes. There are often similar questions about whether English is a person's first or second language - its just about better targeting of services and does not necessarily have a specific outcome for the person

In some cases however identifying as aboriginal or torres strait islander does confer some direct benefits that are aimed at the specific group and made relevant to them eg: accessing foster carers from that particular group or being able to get specifically structured educational support. In those cases proof of identity becomes relevant.

Most of the time there is little additional benefit in naming yourself as a member of a particular group as the benefits arising out of membership really only accrue if you are a member of that group (eg: getting access to an aboriginal tutor to mentor you in studies). In some circumstances however - particularly in regard to land rights and compensation issues there can be significant benefits and in those cases proof becomes very relevant.

In Tasmania in order to be defined as aboriginal a person must prove that he or she:
1. is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent
and
2. identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
and
3. is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives or has lived.

This does lead to issues around the 3rd criteria in particular with some people/groups claiming that the identified Tasmanian aboriginal community has been hijacked by a small clique which is excluding other aboriginal people unfairly.

Dropbear

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LeaflessMapleTree
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quote:
Originally posted by El Camino:
I've always wondered what would happen if I marked "Asian" on some form, like my college or internship application. I'm not actually sure the Asian status would help at all, because Asians aren't really an "underrepresented minority" which is what all the internships or going for.

The way I see it, I'm half Hungarian. Hungarians are in large part decended from the Magyar tribe, which migrated east of the Ural mountains. Thus, if you take your definition of Asian as "ancestrally derived from Asia," I fit the bill to a decent extent, and you only have to go back about a millenium or so!

If you want to go back further, we all basically came from Africa, and thus any person in America could qualify as "African American."

This is one of the reasons I think calling black people "African American" is silly. My dad is an African American. He holds American citizenship, and he's from South Africa. He's more African American than most black people in North American today, but he's very white.

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Donovan
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Serious question: What does it take in the US to be considered 'Native American'? I am fairly certain that one, if not two of my great-grandmothers were 'full blooded' native americans, and I've had the urge to check that out on the back burner for years. All I know for certain is that my grandfather was born in Dodge City and my grandmother was a Colorado share cropper's daughter. If both of them are, then I would be 1/8th, though it is almost certain that the two of them were from different nations.

While part of me wouldn't mind changing my status to 'minority' with some of the stuff that goes on, it's not a major push on my part. Hell, if one of the NA nations embrassed me, I would be tempted to stand up in some kind of town-hall meeting to point out just how much of a 'pink-skin' they accept in.

Donovan Ravenhull

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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quote:
Originally posted by El Camino:
I've always wondered what would happen if I marked "Asian" on some form, like my college or internship application. I'm not actually sure the Asian status would help at all, because Asians aren't really an "underrepresented minority" which is what all the internships or going for.

The way I see it, I'm half Hungarian. Hungarians are in large part decended from the Magyar tribe, which migrated east of the Ural mountains. Thus, if you take your definition of Asian as "ancestrally derived from Asia," I fit the bill to a decent extent, and you only have to go back about a millenium or so!

If you want to go back further, we all basically came from Africa, and thus any person in America could qualify as "African American."

I mean, race is such a silly, poorly defined thing anyway. I have a few friends who are partialy minorities but look nothing like their ancestry would indicate. One is half Asian, half Western European - and looks entirely white. Another is half-Venezuelan, half-Irish, and he looks entirely Irish, not at all hispanic. Another friend is half-Porteguese, half-Irish, and looks infinitely more hispanic than him (even though she isn't, really).

It's silly, because for a person of "mixed race," the race that they look like is basically just a matter of probability.

Eh, regardless...affirmative action and other situations where minority status confers an advantage make it important for having a way of determing "who's who" besides just looking at someone.

I am half black, half white. My daughter is half Pakistani.

I will mark "Asian" on the forms that require a race be entered for her, but, mostly, such questions are optional, and/or have an "other" option, with the exception of my local school district.

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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quote:
Originally posted by educatedindian:

Oh yeah, no such thing as "tribal papers." It's an ID card, not too different from your driver's license. There's also a CDIB, Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood, that's used for Indian Health Service. Despite the name it's also like a card like your DL.

Thank you for saving me a lot of typing.

I still am unsure what "special privileges" would acrue to someone of Native ancestry. My grandfather tells of "special treatment" during his time in the army, but it certainly would in no way be construed as "privilege".

The government does like to keep track of demographics. I always choose "other" to confuse them.

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Signora Del Drago
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T-Girl, my Soc. prof refused to choose "Native American" on his profile because he said the college shouldn't benefit just because of his ethnicity. I agreed.

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

Posts: 4020 | From: Oklahoma | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Signora Del Drago, G.R.I.T.S.:
T-Girl, my Soc. prof refused to choose "Native American" on his profile because he said the college shouldn't benefit just because of his ethnicity. I agreed.

How would the college "benefit" from his ethnicity, though?

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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I don't remember the particulars as it was over thirty-five years ago. They got some extra $$ from some grant based on a Native American faculty/staff/student ratio.

On another note, we were "called on the carpet" by some government agency because we, at one time, had a low percentage of Black students. My question was "What are we supposed to do? Go out and kidnap people and force them to attend our institution?" My work-study student, who was (and still is [lol] ) Black, also thought that was ridiculous.

Edited to remove a redundancy.

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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The only reason race is recorded in the HUGE majority of cases is for statistical data. Other than that it is used for targeted recruitment (we need more XXX's this month).

I've been documentably passed over or advised to not apply for certain programs due to my gender and race. Now that we've updated our system to allow personal updates to racial background, my present ethnic group is American Indian/Alaskan Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and White.

Most of my ancestors came from Norway, so I'm white. After tracing my family tree, I've followed the guy-on-my-birth-certificate's lineage and found that his mother was a Joseph... who emigrated from Portugal as a Josef (family was Jewish at the time). Prior to that, they were from a defunct branch of the Josef clan that ruled the Habsburg Empire (Franz Josef, et al), and so I am Hispanic/Spanish.

Also in there was a quick trip to the tee-pee where a Dakota-Sioux married a great-great grandfather and had kids, so I am part Native American.

As a believer in evolution, I point to my most ancient relative, Lucy, who lived in Africa... voila! I'm Black.

I haven't found any documentable proof that there is any blood in my system from east of the Middle East, so I don't count as Asian.

So I guess I have to admit that I'm just a mutt. Oh, well!

Hey, me, no really, that statistical data is always twisted. I recall an abortive report from NYC that a NYC cop told me about. The official "new" title of "African-American" came out, so there were suddenly no more "colored" people in NYC. When the Mayor asked about race crimes, the Chief of Police was proud to respond that there were ZERO crimes against colored people. Unfortunately the mayor continued to ask and found that there were no more "colored", and that there were just as many crimes against "African-Americans" as there had been against the coloreds the month prior. Probably ULish, but I like the story!

Recently I was speaking to a data guru for the Coast Guard, and he was just going on and on about how much more diverse the USCG was versus where we were just a few years ago. When I asked, he explained that we had 33 different ethnicities that we track, whereas just a year ago there were only 12, and only ten years ago there were only three (black, white, asian). When I blew the whistle and threw the BS flag, he explained that the same percentage of whites and non-whites were in the service, but now that they tracked them differently, we MUST be more diverse!

Bull.

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Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

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Elkhound
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Donovan Ravenhull:
Serious question: What does it take in the US to be considered 'Native American'? I am fairly certain that one, if not two of my great-grandmothers were 'full blooded' native americans, and I've had the urge to check that out on the back burner for years. All I know for certain is that my grandfather was born in Dodge City and my grandmother was a Colorado share cropper's daughter. If both of them are, then I would be 1/8th, though it is almost certain that the two of them were from different nations.

"Native American" is a political as well as a racial designation. A recognized Native American tribe is a sovereign polity in treaty relationship with the Federal government.

The first thing to do is to prove your descent from a member of a recognized tribe. Then contact the tribal government. Some tribes have a blood-quantum, some do not, and each tribe has its own procedures. Once you are added to the tribal roll (assuming that you do meet the tribe's criteria and procedures), you can ask for a letter on the tribal government's letterhead attesting the fact.

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"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."--Iris Murdoch

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
After tracing my family tree, I've followed the guy-on-my-birth-certificate's lineage and found that his mother was a Joseph... who emigrated from Portugal as a Josef (family was Jewish at the time).

You based the conclusion that they were Jewish on more than the spelling of Josef, I hope. Last names are not a reliable indicator of Jewishness, and I don't think spelling Josef with an F proves anything.

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How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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The "Josef" thing got me thinking, so I started working through a local Synagogue who hooked me up with a Portugese Synagogue, and found the same family members' names, birth/death/marriage dates listed in their records. That's what clinched it for me.

And thanks for keeping me honest... if it weren't for snopes and you guys being cite-hungry bastages, I would have accepted it at face value and went on about my business!!

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Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

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educatedindian
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Salamander: I mean, was the referendum to ban *all* collection of racial information or was it only for specific things?

For instance, in terms of conducting a census I think it would be vital for such information to be included. Do you need your race on your driver's license (I have no idea if this is done)? Not so much.[Quote]


EI:
The referendum wanted to ban all collection of any data mentioning race. That's part of why it failed. You wouldn't even be able to track hate crimes.

There's no mention of race on US licenses, though there might have been in the past. But when a cop stops you, it's part of what he records. Again, it's based on his impression. I've been recorded as NDN, Latin, and white.

[QUOTE]So gathering data on race would actually stop the Governments from ignoring the issue of racism? I'm sorry, I don't think the problem is lack of data -- it is inherent attitudes. No amount of statistical data is likely to change that.

I don't go nearly that far. I only mean that refusing to gather information is a sign they won't even admit there are problems.

In Brazil, for example, there's a common saying that "There is no racism in Brazil. The Blacks know their place."

Some others brought up differing definitions from nation to nation.

When I was in Sweden, the Sammi there told me the official definition was that one of your parents had to have spoken the Sammi language. That'd disqualify most NDNs in the US.

Posts: 69 | From: Texas | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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