Race: a socially constructed category composed of people who share biologically transmitted traits that members of a society consider important.
Ethnicity: shared cultural heritage
Minority group: any category of people distinguished by physical or cultural differences that a society sets apart and subordinates.
Not a number issue, but a power issue
I often forget that I am black.
Then, when I remember, the next thing I forget is that I am not black. I am half black and half white. I am mixed. Biracial, multiethnic.
This is, sadly, not that uncommon in my daily life. Or maybe that’s not sad. While culture and ethnicity are important to identity, I don’t think race is nearly as important. Skin color should just be an aesthetic thing, like when you’re picking out an outfit or makeup and something looks particularly gorgeous because it brings out your cocoa skin or your blue eyes or whatever. But maybe it’s strange, because remembering your skin color is one (though obviously not the only, nor the most important) way to remind yourself of your culture and ethnicity, and to find others to identify with.
I usually remember after I’ve hooked up with someone. Part of this is my very complicated ethnic and cultural background, I think. It’s also the media, because you know on TV and in movies, white people only date and marry white people, black people only date and marry black people, Latinos with Latinos, Asians with Asians, etc. I don’t feel all that “black.” I don’t know if anyone does. I don’t know how it would feel. But not growing up with a black family, I guess it’s not the immediate association I jump to when I’m thinking of my ethnic identity. It is the culture to which I belong that I have been least exposed to in my life.
When I process the hookup, or the date, if I’m actually being that respectable, I marvel at how wondrous and interesting it is that the person wanted to date/hook up with me. Since college started, the majority of the people I have hooked up with or dated have been white. I don’t really care, since I like who I like, not who I choose to like, and that stuff doesn’t really matter. But while it doesn’t matter, it also does, and when I think about it, I become paranoid wondering why they picked me. Is it that I seem exotic for not being white? Am I just the type of girl (ethnically speaking–you know how we all have the types of people we’re attracted to, and racial and ethnic identity is sometimes one of those things) they like? Or do they just not see the color? It’s not that I think people are shallow. It’s that we’re a color-based society, and sometimes it just baffles me. Are we all actually colorblind? Are we just colorblind in terms of who we like? Do we pick based on color?
It’s one of those things like wondering whether someone likes you for your looks or your personality. Like if I date a white person, I wonder if they just see me as “white.” Maybe they don’t but they think I’m interesting or I “act white.” Maybe they don’t see a thing and it’s just personality. Maybe I’m just really exotic looking. It’s so stupid, but I don’t understand how it works.