Thursday, January 23, 2014

That's not how biracial works.

One of the things on my to-do list for the past few months has been registering Vivian for Kindergarten. It wasn't urgent, but I wanted to get it done before I forgot. Registering her required finding her immunization records (which were on the computer, I just had to log-in to the site) and coming up with two address verification documents (again, sitting right in my desk, just too lazy to look for them).  I just hadn't gotten around to it, until Monday when I realized that Daniel was sorting through all the bills and organizing them and could get me the two documents. And I also realized that I needed to print out the kids' immunization records anyway, since they were switching to a new pediatrician this week.

Anyway. All that to say that on Monday, I finally was ready to fill out Vivian's registration forms. (I didn't go through this with Ethan, since he has been in the public school system for several years now and was automatically registered for K).  I have a weird love for filling out forms, so I was zipping right along, filling in all the answers. And then I got to this form, which stopped me in my tracks.

I've filled out lots of these forms before.  I know that gathering demographic data is part of the whole experience for a lot of things. I have no problem with that. I will happily answer the question about whether or not my child is Hispanic, and I have no issue with checking boxes to say which race(s) my child is.  I'm happy that there is now an option for more than one answer and that I can indicate that my child is Caucasian and Chinese.

But do you see the sub-question under "What race(s) do you consider your child?" The one that says "Check all that apply." (fine) and then "Please circle your primary choice."

Excuse me? My primary choice?  I was unaware that I could just pretend that half of my child's ethnic background doesn't exist.  And why do I need to make such a choice? If I consider my child to be primarily Chinese, does she need to be educated differently than if I consider her to be primarily white?

Truth of the matter is that when my kids get older, they very well might identify more with one race than another.  Right now Vivian looks much more Chinese than her brother does. With his glasses on, he's barely identifiable as biracial. Maybe Ethan will grow up and want to embrace his Asian side and identify with that. That's fine. We're trying to raise the kids to appreciate both parts of their heritage and teach them as much about both sides of the family as possible. When they grow up they can identify themselves as being from the Purple Heffalump race for all I care. BUT I AM NOT CIRCLING MY PRIMARY CHOICE on a form for my 4-year-old. 

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