Thursday, March 25, 2010

Census Schmensus

It’s Census time! Are you excited? Yeah, me neither. Not that we have received our census form or anything. I think we’re on the census shit list since the last time around. I refused to answer a question, and they sent the Census Police to my house. If that conjures up images of a big, scary, official in a suit, let me pain a clearer picture for you – it was an old lady. An old, frail, persistent little bugger.

The question in…um…question was ethnicity. And I refused to answer it. Because there is no need for it. I’ll answer sex and race and income and education, but not ethnicity. We’re a long way off from Ellis Island and I can’t see why anyone needs this information. Or even how most anyone can answer it correctly. Mainly because they only give you one option – you have to pick ONE. And while there are some people out there whose entire family tree may have come from only one country. But most of us? Heinz 57.

And while I respect my heritage, I don’t identify with it strongly enough to pick any one over another. Do I say Italian because my maiden name ends in “-ini?” I loved my pap and his Italian swear words. But then I am turning my back on my Welsh grandfather. And my English relatives and a bunch of other ethnicities I don’t even know about. And my Argentinean grandma. OK, she wasn’t really from Argentina, but my Pap told me she was when I was little and I believed everything he ever said. So I spent years of my life telling everyone my Gram was from Argentina – using it in school assignments and everything. And I got really mad when someone didn’t believe it – being from a small town where everyone knows everything – and I complained to Gram that no one believed that she was from Argentina. And she said, “That’s terrible. But I’m from Louisiana.”

But aside from the fact that I could never in a million years narrow it down, I consider myself to be American. Not Italian-American or Welsh-American or Belgian-American or fucking Venution-American. AMERICAN. So the little old lady census police came to my house because they wanted an answer. I refused. I am an American, I said. American Indian?, she asked me. No, American. Honey, we just want to know what your background is, what your parents are, she whined. They’re American. Well, where did your grandparents come from? Same place all babies come from. And then they lived their lives in America. And my grandfathers went to war. For America. They were American. I don’t care if somewhere along the line a Scottish sperm met and Irish egg or a Spanish X met an Inuit Y. I am American. So SUCK IT, Census Police!

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7 comments:

Beth Albert said...

This is the first census I'm filling out and I am so utterly confused as to what I need to fill out. I mean I know what it's asking me, but I'm really not comfortable answering all of those questions. I've also gotten 3 mailings telling me I am required by law to complete this and countless emails from work/school/etc. Ugh.

chasingalittlelion said...

Ha! Agreed! My genealogy work is almost 100% based on census records before 1930. I love the census, and I'm rather geekishly excited about it but ya, that ethnicity question is crap. I am roughly 10 different things, John is about 10 different things, and only 5 of those overlap with me, which makes Peanut like 15 different ethnicities, most of which aren't even on the list. American, OK? Been here for 200 years American, or arrived during the Irish Potato Famine American, or left the Amish farm American. American.

Burgh Baby said...

My husband filled it out and now I'm dying to know what he selected. There is no way he could manage to be accurate for me. Not even close because I'm as Heinz 57 as they come. :-/

Logical Libby said...

I let Ryan fill it out, because I would have counted the dog.

Mrs. Chili said...

Right?! I was born here. My parents were born here. THEIR parents were born here. How many generations must a family live in the U.S. before they're considered "American"?!

Michelle said...

They seriously track that down? Now that seems to be a massive waste of my taxpayer dollars. And really, doesn't statistical sampling take care of that kind of thing anyway? *sigh*

I just love the reminders that not filling it out is breaking the law. Yeesh.

chasingalittlelion said...

Saw this and thought of you:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/03/30/contee.who.am.i/index.html
Still haven't finished my Census post on my blog, tho.