Friday, March 12, 2010

The Olympics and The Census Make Me Sad

I know what you're thinking: What could be negative about two such positive events. At the surface these are very happy events that lead to nothing but good things. But, as usual, if you look deeper there are negative things that aren't talked about nearly as much as they should be.

The Olympics brings a lot of money and pride to the host country. It makes people proud of their countries and gives people in niche sports a chance for fame that they might not have had otherwise. One of the coolest events in the Olympics is ski jumping or aerials. This is the event where the competitors ski down a steep hill and up a giant ramp to propel themselves in the air and do back flips and other tricks. Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee does not allow women to participate in this sport on an international level.

Their first excuse was that not enough women competed in the sport to make it into the Olympics. But there are more women ski jumpers than there are skeleton racers based on the national and world championships that are held in each sport. A few male ski jumpers have mentioned that the event is not healthy for women. Are you serious? Didn't they used to say the same thing about women in the distance running events? Did we suddenly go back into the dark ages? Many of the female ski jumpers believe that it is a simple case of sexism. It is possible for a female ski jumper to get as much air as her male competitors and; therefore, earn an equal or higher score than her male counterparts. The male ego just can't handle the thought of losing to a woman so they just won't let them compete. All but one of the people on the International Olympic Committee are male and in late middle age to old age. I don't think we're going to see any changes here until the regulating body is as diverse as the competitors.

The government will tell you that the main focus of the census is to make sure there are plenty of resources available to all of the citizens of the United States. It makes sure there are enough schools and public services but it also identifies trends based on race. It tells you how many people of each race live below the poverty line and, in turn, reveals possible trends of racism in certain geographical areas. It is also meant to provide an accurate make up of the population of the United States by race. Unfortunately, the race categories on the census are horrible inadequate.

If you are an Arab American or an African American from a northern country you likely have white skin. The census would like you to check the box "Caucasian/White Non-Hispanic" on the census. Because in this country the color of your skin is your ethnicity. There is no focus on the country that you come from or the culture that you would define as your own. So when the census folks predict that by the next census, 48% of the US population will be white they mean that those are the people who have light skin can for white Americans, privileged Americans. The actual demographics of this country will never be known if the current system isn't changed.

I have not completed my family tree yet but the research that I have done so far has shown me that you have to go back more than 200 years to find the first one of my ancestors who was not born in the United States. Part of my ancestry is Native American which means that all of my ancestors from that section of my family were born in this country. But my skin is brown so I must check the African American box. I don't expect there to be a German, African, Native American box on the census but I think we could do a lot better than this in a country that is as diverse as the United States.

No comments:

Post a Comment