By Arlene Baez-ScatesSpecial to CSMS MagazineThe advantages and disadvantages of moving away from the racial definition of identity really depend on what racial group you have been categorized under or have chosen to be categorized under. Different races will have different opinion on this issue due to the benefits some racial groups receive from the government.Both of my parents are from Puerto Rico, therefore I fall under the Hispanic category and could be looked at as a minority. If we went by the one-drop principle, I could also fall under the Black category because all Puerto Ricans are of African decent (at least 33%). So which category should a Puerto Rican choose? Black or Hispanic? Fortunately, my parents never taught me the difference in race, and I have never considered myself a minority. I have always been an American, just like the person next to me—whether they are Blacks or Whites.If our government is going to get technical, then we would have to agree with Garn and have hundreds of racial groups. Our country was made up of different ethnic backgrounds, so technically Americans are not just “one” race. We are a multicultural and multiethnic society. When I graduated from high school, I moved to Puerto Rico and lived there for eight years. Like mentioned by Garn, race is really not an issue on the island. So I had never really been exposed to this issue as an adult. When I returned to the United States five years ago, I realized that in the United States everything from politics to interviewing for a job is potentially influenced by race. I was naïve in thinking that the hiring process was done based on qualifications, not on racial backgrounds. Countless studies show that there are not any large institutions that hire Hispanics or Blacks, and that the hiring process did not consider ethnicity or race as a factor. Therefore, the hiring process was not based on need, but on race—at least in many cases. I completely agree with not having racial definition, and like mentioned again by Garn, “the government sets citizens against one another precisely because of perceived racial differences.”“The use of racial statistics creates a reality of racial divisions, which then require solutions, such as busing, affirmative action, and multicultural education. All of which are bound to fail, because they heighten the racial awareness that leads to contention.” (p. 669). This quote sums up what has been and is the reality of racial division in the United States. If all citizens are equal then why do some, based on race, have privileges that others do not?Also see Curriculum Gap or Achievement Gap?Role of alternative languages in our societyTips for teachers who teach ESOL students of Cuban originNote: Arlene Baez-Scates is a Ph.D. candidate at Nova Southeastern University (NSU). She wrote this piece exclusively for CSMS Magazine. She lives and works in Jacksonville, Florida.
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