City Paper is not for tourists
I was fascinated by the topic of “Brown v. Board of Washingtonian” (3/3) as well as by the “full disclosure” by Huan Hsu. And a little pissed off—but just a little; it was generally an intelligent and needed article, but it needs some diversity training of its own.
The whole issue of race and ethnicity is such a minefield (and not just in the United States as we usually believe, by the way—ever been in Scotland and erroneously called a Scot an “Anglo”?) that you guys have somewhat set off a few mines of your own in writing this article. Even Hsu’s eloquent “full disclosure” has a few pitfalls in it.
The issue is near and dear to my heart: the way we throw around words like “race” and “ethnicity” like they are interchangeable.
Some diversity training: Hispanics can be of any race—black, Asian, or white. Although there are millions of indigenous people living in Latin America, I still choke at calling the Maya people from Peru, or the Miskito people from Nicaragua “Hispanic”—and yet when they come to the United States, that’s exactly what we call them, ignoring (and discarding) their true ethnicity (Maya, Miskito,Toltec, Inca, Olmec, etc.) and their true race (Native American).
Most “Hispanics” in the Greater D.C. area (by virtue of being from Central America in large numbers) are of Native American ancestry.
The U.S. government recently started using the term “white” and “non-Hispanic white” when it recently “discovered” that there are huge nations in South America and one in Europe comprised of Caucasian people who speak Spanish.
To complicate matters, we have “Hispanic” nations like Argentina where the largest ethnic group is actually made up of Italians, with Argentines of German ancestry coming in at third, and more people of Welsh ancestry than in Wales.
You better bet, for that big blond, blue- eyed dude named Nelson Kirchner, grandson of four German immigrants to Argentina not only is now the first ethnic German president of Argentina but also happens to be a German ethnic who is also Hispanic.
And Alberto Fujimori, the disgraced former president of Peru, was not only the son of Japanese immigrants to Peru but also an ethnic Japanese who happened to be Hispanic—and oh yeah, there are more people of Japanese ancestry in South America than in the USA.
What are we going to call them?