America loves to group its people together. As much as we brag about being the most diverse nation in the world, it hides the fact that so many different races and ethnicities seem to trouble it. Instead of embracing the different parts of us that make us unique, America at times acts as though it wants to scrap our individuality.
Instead, we are pushed into groups that many of us are uncomfortable being categorized into. According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Census is changing the way that it asks about race and ethnicity. There are more options for the responder to choose from. The Census’ goal is to have fewer people choose the box that says, “some other race.”
With the census, instead of being confused about how exactly to dictate that one is, for example, Lebanese, there is now the option to check off “white” and then, underneath the box, clarify one’s ethnicity.
However, this luxury is unavailable on a majority of the paperwork that one must complete on a regular basis in order to apply for jobs, graduate school or even to visit a new doctor. It’s frustrating that we are forced to give up our individuality on these forms to become one number in a group, but what is even more upsetting is that these groups we are forced into are too broad.
It is especially difficult for people from the Middle East, as they must declare themselves “white” even if they believe that they are of color. For people from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, though they identify as South Asian, they must check off that they are Asian, even though that puts them in a group that they believe they are different from.
In the case of people who are biracial or identify as being a part of more than one race, they are often forced to choose one race — even if they identify as, say, both Egyptian and Indian. It is unfair that one must pick which part of their heritage they want to identify with.
If UMBC prides itself in having such a diverse community, then that diversity needs to be accommodated. Students need to be shown that the unique parts of them are appreciated, and so there needs to be a change in the way that we are allowed to identify ourselves.