Self-definition, self-determination

Las matematicas de hoy es conocimiento.

Today's mathematics is knowledge.

Knowledge is the first step towards self-realization. It is the foundation for internal and external growth and development and supremely integral in one's perspective of themselves. Knowing who you are so that you know who you are not, to relieve ourselves from imitating people who have been imitating us.
"...the Maker, the Owener, the cream of the planet earth, Father of civlization..."- 1st degree, 1-10 Student Enrollment

Below is an article I found that was published right before the year 2000 Census. It is very applicable as we approach the close of another decade, since the Census is taken every 10 years. One should really ponder one's reality and how we choose to define it.

Defying the Census

For the year 2000 Census, here's a potentially radical idea: U.S. residents of Mexican or Central American-origin, as well as most other Latinos should declare themselves "Native American" on the Census questionnaire.

The way it is now, most Latinos are virtually obliged to put themselves in the "white" racial category, even though they are the descendants of indigenous people who have lived in the Americas for thousands of years. In Mexico and Central America, the people there do not consider themselves white, but rather indigenous-based "mestizos," or simply indigenous. In fact, most Latinos are a mixture of Indian, African and European lineage. Only a minute percentage--primarily the ruling elites--are considered white (or Spanish).

Stanford anthropologist Renato Rosaldo says that mestizos, because of their red-brown skin, are treated as "Indian" by our racialized society once they cross into the United States. The discrimination they are confronted with stirs within mestizos or Hispanicized Indians a newfound awareness of their Indian heritage that many had long ago discarded in their homelands.

Incidentally, virtually all Americans are of mixed ancestry, yet the bureau has traditionally opted for "one-drop" rules which result in "pure" categories. The Census Bureau has long known that for racial purposes, its forms produce completely flawed results when tallying Latinos in the United States, but it has failed to act. So we have decided to do its work for it. After all, the Census Bureau should not be in the business of determining people's identities. As it well knows, its categories are not biological or scientific, but political.

When Census bureaucrats imposed the term "Hispanic" as an ethnic (not racial category in the 1970s, they stated that "Hispanics may be of any race." Yet when compiling statistics, the Census has tended to count the vast majority of Latinos into the "white" category, and only a few into the "black" category.

This practice belies reality and reveals either ineptitude, or shame, on the part of the Latino bureaucrats who have historically advised the Census. Nearly half of Latinos traditionally select the "other" race category. However, because the bureau believes they are confused (98 percent of all those who chose "other" in the 1990 Census were Latinos), it has traditionally counted most Latino "others" as white by default. Lacking viable options, in the 1990 Census, about half of the Latino population selected the "white" category.

Many Latinos check the "white" category because the bureau does not offer a mestizo (or mulatto) option, or because they have been told that they can not designate themselves as Native Americans.

If, for example, Rigoberta Menchu, the 1992 Nobel Prize winner from Guatemala, were to move to the United States, according to the bureau, she should not check off the "Native American" box on the questionnaire. Only members of U.S. federally registered tribes are supposed to exercise this option, even though the majority of Native Americans originate south of the U.S./Mexico border. Additionally, the historical anti-Mexican/Indian attitudes of this society have convinced many people--particularly Mexicans themselves--that there's something wrong with being Mexican, thus many identify as white.

Today, Mexicans/Latinos are generally no longer ashamed of their ancestry. Yet we are still waiting for institutional recognition from the Census Bureau that it is OK for Latinos to acknowledge their indigenous roots. Perhaps its bureaucrats incorrectly believe that "Native Americans" are a race of people particular to the United States. Consequently, the Census confuses nationality with race.

The option we suggest doesn't require government approval, nor does it require a 10-year study by government Hispanics. All it requires is for Mexicans/Latinos to check the "Native American" box and do it proudly. Many have long personally identified themselves in this manner already. If the bureau respects self-identity as it says it does, this simple act should not confound it.

As for those who might oppose this idea because it might cause a decrease in the number of people who choose the ethnic category of "Hispanic," the fears are groundless. One is a racial category and the other is an ethnic one. This fear is predicated on the idea that less "Hispanics" means less federa dollars and that there is a connection between an accurate census count and the proper enforcement of civil rights laws. This fear reveals an entitlement mentality and also a naivete in believing that civil rights laws are enforced as a result of census counts rather than political pressure.

For those who might be concerned that this group may then qualify for benefits not entitled to them--not to worry. It wouldn't entitle them to anything that is due members of U.S. federally recognized tribes--other than dignity. "


1 comment:

Libbie Lee (Auckland, New Zealand) said...

I completely agree with this article. Cultural Diaspora is seen globally. Even where I'm from - Tondo, Manila, Philippines. The Spanish colonised Philippines some years back. bringing with them constructive impact - Universities and other institutions - let alone their amazing architecture. Then the Americans crashed the party and bombarded the place with rubbish - literally; media influences and the rubbish flooding the Tondo river.

I'm in the midst of researching into this further for my International Communication paper, as I am of mixed cultures - Filipino, German and 'Kiwi' (New Zealand). I was born into the filth of Tondo - not because of my people, but because of the effects of Globalisation and the pollution that goes with it.