There are a few things in this world that leave me speechless. A really good rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Some episodes of Black Mirror. Most political conversations on Twitter. But nothing paralyzes me like these little boxes:
For Latinx people, this is a complicated choice. A history of colonization and blurring of European, African, and Native American bloodlines mean that most of us don't fit into a clear racial category. And when you're half Latinx and half something else, you're mixed times two.
Some forms allow you to check Other. But, who wants to identify as "other"? Is there anything more isolating? A whopping 19 million Hispanics and Latinx people checked "some other race" in the census. How is it possible that the second largest demographic group in the U.S. doesn't have a box to check?
Other forms allow you to select multiple categories, which is cool. But, I'm still stuck because, as a person with Puerto Rican and Eastern European roots, am I white and Black? Nope. There's likely some Taíno, the indigenous Caribbean people, in my background - but can I really check "white and Native American" with a straight face? Don't think so. And I'm pretty sure I'm not Asian (although, I'll have to take a DNA test to know for sure - more on that later).
And then there are the forms that give you an out - a heartwarming box that says biracial or, even better, multiracial. Hooray! Now, I have a choice. I can answer based on skin color (white), genetics (multiracial), how people perceive me (white), or how I identify (depends on the day).
So, what box do I actually check? I'll save the big reveal for another article. For now, watch this 6-minute video on Latinx perspectives on race. Think on it. Then, let's discuss!