Sunday, March 29, 2009
"Self" Identification: Self Identified by the Others
My husband and I attempted to register our daughter for kindergarten in May of 2003. I happened to be sitting in my “Gender and Race in the Classroom” seminar listening to student presentations. I started to fill out the mandatory forms for our school district. I got to page three. Half way down was the “race” box. I suddenly realize that our box has been ELIMINATED! REALLY? other will no longer be recognized as a race. At the same time I realize that the instructions say I can check only ONE BOX. How do I pick one box for the blue eyed, blond haired, Irish skinned black girl? I was livid! I crossed out the section and wrote things like THIS IS RACIST and THERE IS NO BOX HERE THAT REPRESENTS MY DAUGHTER. they called my husband. The principal told my husband that the race box was mandatory and that our daughter could NOT be registered without her race being documented. bullshit. My husband also refused to pick a box that did not represent my daughter. So after several attempts, the principal PICKED A RACE FOR HER. she picked white. I called the superintendent of schools, our former friend, and demanded that the school district take a stand and refuse to participate in this racist practice. We had been told that both the mandatory tracking of race and the removal of the other box were products of the No Child Left Behind Act and that all schools would have to comply. bush. Our district was a pilot district for this program of tracking and classifying children. The superintendent, after a two hour conversation, informed me that I was being selfish by putting mine and my children’s identity ahead of the financial welfare of the school. During my uprising of one, I also realized that not only were we never told about this “new law’s” impact on the racial categorization of children which single handedly overturned the 2000 census which allowed a person to mark all that apply, but the school had changed my sons’ racial categorization as well. The boys were registered as other. "Other" just did not exist anymore. Apparently someone, who the school would not turn over, had changed the boys races, without ever asking my husband and I what their races were or what we wanted them to be categorized as. I felt powerless. How were other people classifying my children by race? How far have we come? In the end, we left the categorizations alone because they speak for the ignorance of the law and its application. The geniuses in our school district had classified my oldest child as black, my youngest child as white and my middle child as Hispanic.