One of our greatest shames in America has been our desperate need to collect and utilize racial data. Since the very beginning, the U.S. census has asked questions about race, which might be understood at a time when only white European descended people were considered to be relevant -- and blacks were almost entirely living at slaves with virtually no rights or entitlements.
Yet even though we rid ourselves of slavery and racist (though not many racial) laws, we still feel that it is important to know how many minorities there are and then craft public policy and federal laws in ways that treat people differently because of minor, oftentimes imperceptible, physical differences.
When the census worker came to my house asking to know my race, I politely told him it was none of his business. He told me that it was important and he really needed to get the information. I declined. He said, "is it safe to say you are Caucasian?" I more emphatically replied, "not for you, it isn't." With an uncomfortably forced laugh, he then said that he understood, but that they would persist in trying to collect the data. At which point I simply said, "Let them."
Likewise, a birth form wanted to know the "race" of my child. Again, none of their business. I filled in "other" with one word. Human. If I hadn't been so offended, I would have checked off numerous different boxes. Yes, my children are multi-racial. No, it doesn't matter. At all.
Politicians feel that people with shared ancestry or physical traits must share some sort of common disadvantages. How terribly racist that is. To lump people together, to proclaim them needy or damaged or victims simply because of the color of their skin or their ancestry, or even a language their ancestors may have spoken. To expect them to vote in a certain way, or all want the same thing. Worse, to treat them as traitors for not voting with the pack.
Institutional racism has been destroyed in America. In fact, America is quite likely the least racist nation in the world, if that is something that can be quantified. While "black" immigrants have been taught from birth that America is racist, "blacks" from other countries are often shocked by the just how race free the U.S. is. John Stossel did an entire program on this many years ago (unfortunately, I have not been able to locate it on the internet). And yet, the government persists in knowing what "race" we must be.
We now have the first "African American" president, who is really a mix of "Caucasian" and "black.” Yet he is rarely called our first "mixed race" president. Because to a politician, even a tiny portion of minority blood makes one a minority, regardless of appearance.
The goal, of course, is to create as many "minorities" as possible until they are the "majority," thereby punishing the Europeans who settled here, did some good things and some bad things and generally claimed the country for themselves. Obviously, someone must pay. Never mind that my "black" friend was never a slave, and I was never a slave owner and rather certain that no one related to me ever were.
Barack Obama's father was from Kenya, so Barack Obama isn't of slave ancestry. But wait, now it is being theorized that his MOTHER in fact, descended from a slave, making him yet an oppressed minority. His mother, apparently, was not an oppressed minority, but maybe will be reclassified as such -- posthumously.
One is forced to wonder why we don't ask about eye color or hair color in the census. Should we ask about penis or breast size? Height? Weight? Should we count people that have overbites or a mole? Straight hair. Why aren't these also valid questions for a census? And if collecting race data is what a racist, slave-owning nation does, why would we do it today?
One of the biggest reasons to do this is to corral people by racial identity, herding them into nifty little voting blocks. And when that is not enough to win an election, the process of gerrymandering, creating bizarrely shaped voting districts in order to put most of the local people of a particular race, typically "black" or "Hispanic" into a single area, so that they will, ostensibly, vote for the person most physically like them.
Even as we pretend not to be racist, we collect race data, and put people into groups or geographical areas, because in our 'not-racist' minds, we believe they will vote a particular way, based on race. We convince ourselves that it is not racist to classify people by race, or to treat them differently by race, or to make assumptions about them because of their race. Why? Because "it's for their own good." "We mean well."
But what is the result of this strategy? We have convinced "minorities" that they are in fact different. That people will treat them differently because of their "race." That anything bad that happens to them is because of "racism." And others, not prone to racism otherwise, see this attitude or behavior from enough people and start to think that people of a particular ethnic or racial background behave differently or have a particular attitude. What we have done, by collecting race data, ironically, has done nothing but perpetuate racism.
One of my greatest disappointments with Barack Obama has been his inability to heal racial factions in the U.S. and to wind down racial [racial, course, simply being well-meaning racism] government programs. I had hoped that he would have given the post-racial "I made it. If I can be president, anyone can be president and doesn't that make America great" speech.
He could have healed the wounds, brought people together, taken government out of the race business. That alone would have been well worth the price of admission. But Obama is also an individual and simply didn't feel the need to make that speech and that is his prerogative. Rather, he implied that a police officer a racist for trying to protect a black man's home from a potential burglar, suspiciously entering through the back while the owner was supposedly away. These are the types of awkward slips that happen, when we assume that people are motivated by race.
Philosophical underpinnings aside, what IS the One Human Race Act? It is a piece of legislation that takes race and ethnicity out of the census because it serves no valid or helpful purpose. It prevents government from using race as a discriminatory factor in any way. And while racial discrimination still has a valid enemy in the courts, it eliminates quotas, set asides, and other functions that cause racial animus.
Even if there is some positive benefit somewhere to counting people by race and making policy on race, it is certainly outweighed by the downside of keeping actual racism on life support by feeding the fear and anger of a small group of people who feel disenfranchised by government. As we approach a country where "minorities" will be the "majority" and approximately 10 million people call themselves multi-racial (many people have no idea they are multi-racial or multi-ethnic), does it even matter?
By eliminating race from government data services, we get back to focusing on the real problems in the U.S. Poverty. The economy. Lack of opportunity. Taxation. Regulation. Education. We can begin to wind down agencies that require racism in order to have something to do. If racism doesn't find them, they will certainly find racism. Aside from saving taxpayers tens or even hundreds of million of dollars in annual witch hunting exercises and assisting politicians in what I simply call "race herding," it simply just makes sense to get government out of the race business.