Society loves boxes. There are boxes for race, their are boxes for culture, there are boxes for gender, ability, nationality, parenthood, skin color, hair color…. if there is an “identifier” there is a box for it. Once upon a time, I imagine these boxes were relevant. They somewhat accurately could capture an identity. I imagine that most people go through life simply checking boxes that they “fit” into, without much thought. You see, however…. not everyone fits into those boxes. I, for example, have never seemed to be able to make myself fit into any of those proverbial boxes.
This is what I would hear throughout my childhood. Not “Gee, what is your background?”… or “Where does that natural golden tan come from?”… but instead… I was thingified as a “what”. Yes… I said thingified. You may wonder… what does thingify mean? To me, it is how people would make me something less than human, a “thing”… a “what” instead of a “who”.
You see, I never had a good answer to this question. Maybe it’s my “aspie” brain that kept me from being able to answer (because I am not a “What” I am a “Who”), however this does exemplify how I would walk through the world for all of my life. I have tried to no avail to fit into a box, to answer the question that was intended… “what is your race?”.
For most people I imagine this is an easy answer. The boxes on the forms are basic enough…
Check One Box (imagine there are boxes…):
- Asian/Pacific Islander
- Native American/Alaska Native
- (newly available choice…) Other
Let’s see… if you have this combination of family origin, what one box do you check…. (and yes I know “other” is an option, but that doesn’t say anything does it)
- German (Pennsylvania Dutch)
- Tlingit (Alaska Native)
- Unknown Native American (Lenape or Powhatan likely – due to early pre-revolutionary war settler family in NY & New Jersey)
In the 2010 census,the number of people who identified themselves as both white and black soared by 134 percent since 2000 to 1.8 million people, according to the NY Times. The U.S. Census reported a 50% increase in the multiracial youth population (4.2 million) since the 2000 census, and was identified as the fastest growing youth group in the country.
So, “What Are You, Anyway?” -
I’m a mother.
I’m an aspie.
I’m a woman.
I’m a professional.
I’m a dog mommy.
I’m a blogger.
I’m a genius.
I’m not alone.
I’m…. a million different things, and most importantly…. I am me.
I am Rachelle Pavao Goldenberg.
Society is changing. It’s time to make some new boxes…. or maybe ditch the boxes all together.