|Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2012-07-11 00:58Z by Steven|
Jesse Washington, National Writer
There were 784,764 U.S. residents who described their race as white and black in the last census. But that number didn’t include Laura Martin, whose father is black and mother is white.
“I’ve always just checked black on my form,” said Martin, a 29-year-old university employee in Las Vegas. She grew up surrounded by black family and friends, listening to black music and active in black causes — “So I’m black.”
Nor did it include Steve Bumbaugh, a 43-year-old foundation director in Los Angeles, who also has a black father and white mother. “It’s not as if I’d have been able to drink out of the white and colored water fountains during Jim Crow,” he said. “And I most assuredly would have been a slave. As far as I’m concerned, that makes me black.”…
…It’s impossible to know how many of the 35 million people counted as “black alone” in 2000 have a white parent. But it’s clear that the decision to check one box — or more — on the census is often steeped in history, culture, pride and mentality.
Exhibit A is President Barack Obama. He declined to check the box for “white” on his census form, despite his mother’s well-known whiteness.
Obama offered no explanation, but Leila McDowell has an idea.
“Put a hoodie on him and have him walk down an alley, and see how biracial he is then,” said McDowell, vice president of communications for the NAACP.
“Being black in this country is a political construct,” she said. “Even though my father is white and I have half his genes, when I apply for a loan, when I walk into the car lot, when I apply for a job, they don’t see me as half white, they see me as black. If you have any identifying characteristics, you’re black.”…
…But the logic is simple for Ryan Graham, the brown-skinned son of a white-black marriage who defines himself as multiracial.
“Say you’re wearing a black-and-white shirt. Somebody asks, ‘What color is your shirt?’ It’s black and white. There you go. People ask me, ‘What race are you?’ I say I’m black and white. It’s that simple,” said Graham, a 25-year-old sales consultant from Fort Lauderdale, Fla…
Read the entire article here.