Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On racial equality

So: I am the European American mom of two Asian American children. As I stroll with them through our lives I am more conscious of inter-racial practices than I used to be.

Tell me this: have you ever told a story and if the person was a different race than you are: you mentioned it, but otherwise you didn't? Have you ever told North American History as if it started with European travels?

Here is something I would like to hear often: white people called European American as often as black people are called African American. And Asian Americans too. And European Africans, and European Australians. And on. For example: "The first president of the U.S. was a European American."

Kinda changes one's perceptions, eh?

Because I have noticed that in telling my children North American history, when I say "the Americans did thus and so", and then "the African's did..." or the "Native Americans did..." I am differentiating everybody but me. I am making everybody different but me. But we European Americans are about as different and the same as people of African American heritage, and have been hanging out on this continent a fraction of the time that Asian Americans have, to say nothing of the folk who lived here before them.

The point is that we are making uncomfortable assumptions if we qualify everyone but ourselves.

My children's racial ancestors didn't come from "away" any more than mine did.

And here is another question: If having a father who is African American makes one black, then how come having a European American mother doesn't make one white??

Just wondering.


A Homeschool Story said...

Thought-provoking comments on a topic that is always on my mind; thank you!

Irish-German-American mother with dual French citizenship, mother of Franco-American (or is it Americo-French?) children...or all we all just Euro-American?

nzflutterby said...

Great thought.

I am a European New Zealander - therefore a European Kiwi.

My relatives - backwards and sideways - are Scottish, English, Irish, Maori, Samoan.

Certainly shows global families with these descriptions.


Jodi Renshaw said...

I SOOOOOOOO hear you on this one!!!! I am Mommy to a black child --- for as long as I am referred to as white, then I will refer to him as black (we adopted him from Haiti). All this "_________-American" crap drives me nuts because no one uses it for us "European-Americans" ... And all this labels just continue to divide us. It is certainly not helpful. I hate that we have a "Black History" month --- as if my son's racial history should be seperate from all of "other" American history. Furthermore, I have a white friend from Africa, whom I lovingly refer to as "African-American" just to make a point! AND my "Native-American" friends hate that term and prefer "Indian" ... because they are not native to America. They were here before America... and thus find it insulting. Interesting, eh???

I say we throw all the "politically-correct" terms away ... and call each other human. The need to seperate us all is something I can't wrap my head around. However, I also respect the beauty of using a term to refer to one's cultural heritage. So --- what IS the answer???

Thanks for writing this!