Race: I’m Just Who I am

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-01-12 19:17Z by Steven

Race: I’m Just Who I am

Time Magazine

Jack E. White, Washington

Tamala M. Edwards, Washington

Elaine Lafferty, Los Angeles

Sylvester Monoroe, Los Angeles

Victoria Rainert, New York

His nickname notwithstanding, professional golfer Frank (“Fuzzy”) Zoeller saw Tiger Woods quite clearly. He gazed upon the new king of professional golf, through whose veins runs the blood of four continents, and beheld neither a one-man melting pot nor even a golfing prodigy but a fried-chicken-and-collard- greens-eating Sambo. Zoeller saw Woods, in short, as just another stereotype, condemned by his blackness to the perpetual status of “little boy.”

Zoeller soon paid a price for saying openly what many others were thinking secretly. K Mart, the discount chain with a big African-American clientele, unceremoniously dumped him as the sponsor of a line of golf clothing and equipment, and he abjectly withdrew from the Greater Greensboro Open tournament. “People who know me know I’m a jokester. I just didn’t deliver the line well,” Zoeller tearfully explained. But his real crime was not, as he and his defenders seem to think, merely a distasteful breach of racial etiquette or an inept attempt at humor. The real crime was falling behind the times. The old black-white stereotypes are out of date, and Zoeller is just the latest casualty of America’s failure to come to grips with the perplexing and rapidly evolving significance of racial identity in what is fast becoming the most polyglot society in history.

If current demographic trends persist, midway through the 21st century whites will no longer make up a majority of the U.S. population. Blacks will have been overtaken as the largest minority group by Hispanics. Asians and Pacific Islanders will more than double their number of 9.3 million in 1995 to 19.6 million by 2020. An explosion of interracial, interethnic and interreligious marriages will swell the ranks of children whose mere existence makes a mockery of age-old racial categories and attitudes. Since 1970, the number of multiracial children has quadrupled to more than 2 million, according to the Bureau of the Census. The color line once drawn between blacks and whites—or more precisely between whites and nonwhites—is breaking into a polygon of dueling ethnicities, each fighting for its place in the sun.

For many citizens the “browning of America” means a disorienting plunge into an uncharted sea of identity. Zoeller is far from alone in being confused about the complex tangle of genotypes and phenotypes and cultures that now undercut centuries-old verities about race and race relations in the U.S. Like many others, he hasn’t got a clue about what to call the growing ranks of people like Woods who inconveniently refuse to be pigeonholed into one of the neat, oversimplified racial classifications used by government agencies–and, let’s face it, most people. Are they people of color? Mixed race? Biracial? Whatever they like?…

Read the entire article here.

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