Pacificmelody's Blog

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One Person Can Make A Difference

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US_Census_2010_form_raceThis is a story I started and lost track of several months ago, but the news is still positive and I wanted to share it with you.

From a March 24th article on Huffington Post entitled, “Plato, Missouri Sits At Center of Nation’s Population”, comes this quote: “Meanwhile, more than 9 Million Americans checked two or more race categories on their 2010 census forms, up 32 percent from 2000, a sign of burgeoning multiracial growth in an increasingly minority nation.”

I remember a conversation with my son when he was quite young. We were watching something on TV and my son made a comment. When I asked him which character he meant, he said “The White lady.” I pointed to the screen and said “Who is that?” and he replied, “That’s a Black man.” “What am I,” I asked. “You’re White,” he replied. “And Daddy?” “He’s Black,” my son said. “What are you,” I asked him, to which he replied, “I’m White.” And I thought, this is it. This is the conversation you knew you were going to have someday.

So I took a deep breath and explained to him that he was neither Black nor White but biracial, the product of two racial heritages. He took it in calmly, and we talked a little about it, and things were fine.

I remember when my son went to Montessori School when he was going on four years old, and I remember the forms that came home for me to fill out. In those days, when you came to race there was very little choice. There were Caucasian, Black, Hispanic and Asian, and that was it. I checked the first two boxes and sent the form back to school. It was returned to me with a note – Please check only one box. I declined to do so, and when I was asked to fill it out their way, I refused. “Your form is what is wrong, not my son. Change your form.”

There was a similar conversation when he went into the public school system, and again I stood my ground. I checked both boxes and if there was a box for Native American I checked that too, since my son is part Cherokee on both sides of the family.

Now it’s a different story. The choices on the 2010 Census forms included the following: White, Black, Native American or Alaskan, Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Other Asian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Native Hawaiian, Guamanian or Chamorro, Samoan, Other Pacific Islander, or Some Other Race (print race). Something for everyone!

Did my actions have anything to do with these changes? I hope so. If you don’t like the way things are, remember what one of my heroes, Mahatma Gandhi, said: “Be the change you want to see.” One person really can make a difference.

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Author: Melody J Haislip

I'm either a transplanted East Coaster or a born again West Coaster. My heart kept pulling me toward Oregon, and when I followed it I found my dream, which I am living daily. My dream of becoming a writer has come true as well. I am in the company of people who speak my language, and the sense of community is healing hurts I didn't know were there. I am very grateful for my enormous good fortune.

8 thoughts on “One Person Can Make A Difference

  1. I loved your post. Two things. First, people saying Obama is Black was backed up by “he can’t get a cab in New York.” He is still bi-racial, and if Americans did not have residual hatred of miscegenation, (a hateful word in itself) he would be identified as biracial. Secondly, on the census, in 1990, it was said that there would be a change regarding Hispanics. Forever, you could not be Hispanic and white or Black. They stated that not only would that be changed, but that Hispanic would refer to people from Spain, ( my mother’s side is Spaniard and Black, my Father Russian, and I am white.) Others would be designated as Latino, which pleased Spaniards to no end, as most of them are stuck-up! While the change took place in MA,it never took place on a national level. Besides, for my Basque side, the Director of BIA said I should also declare myself Native American, b/c we were related. I applaud you on your actions, and that you give yourself some credit for fighting racism on the home front–b/c that’s where it begins!

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    • Racism belongs in the discard pile. We all belong to the same race, the Human race, and it’s time we acknowledged it. Celebrate our differences, yes, but be glad for all our commonalities. I don’t have time for racism; none of us does. Glad you liked my story, and it’s good to hear from you.

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  2. The same with Flowers. Daisies, roses, tulips … it would be boring to have everything the same and too many times our country is politically incorrect. Great article.

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    • Excellent point, Theresa. There would be no point to traveling if we were all the same. There would be no Chinese food, no French cuisine, or haute couture. No Pyramids or Great Wall, no Christ of the Andes, no statue of David, because if we lived in a boring world, where would be our creative spark? Save me from such an existence! And thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. Excellent post =) Diversity is a richness, always. And I do believe change starts from a few people. You sure might have had a great deal to do with the change ^^

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    • I’d like to think I helped, and I hope I will do so again. If we simply sit around waiting for change to happen, it will take a lot longer! Thank you.

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  4. Wonderful post, Melody. You answered your son’s question perfectly. I have eight beautiful grandchildren…the youngest is adopted from Ethiopia (my daughter’s). Big beautiful dimples and skin the color of a dark rich caramel. The granddaughter next to him is adopted from Peru (my older son’s). She has the most gorgeous thick black hair that shines and dark brown eyes that just sparkle. All eight (soon to be nine) are the joys of my life!

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    • Dianne, thank you, and congratulations on your increasing brood. When I was younger, I adored both my grandmothers and always looked forward to being one myself. So far my son has not obliged me. Apparently when you’re gay it’s twice as hard to find a man ready to settle down. I keep hoping though. He is a fine young man and I know he’ll be a wonderful father. I do, however, have a darling little great niece whose mom is my niece and goddaughter. She’ll be a year old in Sept. We’ve just begun Skyping and it’s so wonderful. She’s so bright and beautiful and alive, you can feel it through the screen. I met her last year when she was only two weeks old and fell in love. I was holding her out in front of me on my arms and she was facing me. She started waving her arms and making faces and jabbering away and looking into my eyes, for all the world as if she were telling me a story. It was an enchanted moment.

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