What category should you check?

My husband wrote in “homo sapiens” for race on the census. I am sure that was a lot of help to the people who are trying to collect statistical data about the U.S. population. After all, there are so many forms being filled out by non homo sapiens that distinctions must be made. His argument was that race is not clearly defined, which is true. It is not that there are no definitions, but there are too many.

One problem with the emphasis on race is that it causes people to identify themselves as a member of a race rather than as an American. All of us have many identities and loyalties: gender, race, nationality, occupation, state, family, religion, sexual orientation, and avocation. In some circles, it is more important that people are Star Trek fans than any other category. This is particularly true on the Internet, where communities are formed of people with a common passion. I don’t object to these communities, as long as people don’t take them too seriously. These communities can unite rather than divide.

Yet there is a tendency for people to put more emphasis on race than belongs there. Race is an incidental part of our makeup and should not define us. We are all homo sapiens.


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