January 21, 2011

"As part of the health care reform, we have to ask you for your race."

Tung Yin finds something else that's obnoxious about Obamacare. "Obnoxious" is his word.
"You're free to decline to answer," [the hospital receptionist] said, and added that it used to be really hard for her to ask this question.

I said that I was, quite obviously Asian, but apparently that was not precise enough for the requirements of the new health reform act. It was necessary for some reason to classify me as not just "Asian" but "Chinese."
Is this meaningless bureaucratic collection of information, possibly useful for medical reasons, or something more nefarious?

96 comments:

pavlova8 said...

I have no idea about health care in your country, but from Oz we collect statistics in order to be able to create health care programs for specific people you have to know how many of them there are and what sort of health issues are likely to be a problem for them. There are some health issues that affect southern europeans more than other populations, for example. And OK what shit would I know - 15 years at Federal Health and Master of Public Health - so obviously I'm a left wing lunatic who knows jack shit!

Coketown said...

It's known that different races are susceptible to different diseases and to varying degrees. So when the government's rationing health care--sorry, sorry, "controlling costs"--it's helpful to know a patient's racial profile. Why waste money treating high blood pressure among blacks when they're disproportionately likely to have heart attacks anyway? Or, taking the inverse, why waste money treating high blood pressure among Asians when blacks are more likely to have heart problems?

Ellie Dworak said...

I'm thinking it's for distribution of funds that are earmarked for certain populations.

The Drill SGT said...

I am curious as to what reason the government would have to make health insurers ask such a question . . . .



The short answer is that Progressives are very race aware. Everything must be measured in terms of identity groups and the most disadvantaged identity group is what you should enter

Hagar said...

"Chinese" is a citizenship, not a race.

Coketown said...

Dang. I guess Australia's health care is as coarse and stubborn as their wines. (zing!) "Welcome to Compassionate Care regional medical center, you jack shit piece of garbage asshole." If I need scenery and a goofy accent, I think I'll go to New Zealand.

Ann Althouse said...

When I had babies in NYC -- at NYU Hospital -- I was asked to identify the mother's and father's ethnic origin. When I came up with "Jewish" for the father, they were downright rude to me. I'm supposed to know the particular countries his ancestors were from? I was forced to give answers that I wasn't even sure were accurate and to feel embarrassed about my own ignorance.

rayofhope said...

Just say "I am an AA." When the person looks at you funny, respond: "American, asshole." Then look at them as though they have a problem.

Kirby Olson said...

They're planning to make certain racial groups that don't reliably vote Democratic into Soylent Green and are wondering about calorie counts to keep the meal plans for the survivors tasteful but non-obesity-forming.

Shanna said...

When I came up with "Jewish" for the father, they were downright rude to me.

They may have been concerned about Tay Sachs? No reason to be rude, though.

There are tendencies for different medical issues tied to racial makeup, but skeptic that I am, I doubt that's why the nurse would need it for Obamacare.

The Drill SGT said...

Hagar said...
"Chinese" is a citizenship, not a race.

Though one might say Han Chinese, let me assure you that there are clearly communities that think of themselves as Chinese first rather than Malay, Thai, Vietnamese, Singaporean, and of course Chinese, Tiawanese or American

mesquito said...

Hoosier-Norwegian.

What, that ain't on the goddam form? Fine. I Melanesian.

(In England "Asian" is the nice PC way to say "Paki.")

Ann Althouse said...

@Shanna I don't get your point. They rejected "Jewish" as the answer to the question they'd asked, as if I'm the idiot. I thought they were interested in bloodlines, in which case, the particular geographic area the ancestors happened to live in before they came to American doesn't matter. If the Jews lived in Russia, they wanted me to say: Russian. What's that about?

edutcher said...

Essentially, Kirby's right.

They're trying to figure out which groups are going in front of the death panels the most. Then they can figure out which oldsters of which groups to spare so there are enough voters for RahmBO's Permanent Democrat Majority and which go to Auschwitz.

Trooper York said...

Well why is that a surprise coming from the most racist administration since Woodrow Wilson had a stroke?

Ann Althouse said...

And frankly, those borders in Eastern Europe move around a lot and get renamed. I have trouble identifying my own ancestors place of origin. Where were the Moravians in the 17th century?

Freeman Hunt said...

What if you say you're a white black?

"What? You've never heard of a white black person before. Hmph. I guess we can't all run in truly cosmopolitan social circles."

rhhardin said...

I suggest "I haven't decided."

AJ Lynch said...

Drilled Sgt nailed it.

And kinda funny to see all the rest of you try and guess the rational reason begind the thinking at a govt agency.

Btw, Pavlova- I really don't think advanced nations should need public health majors. Most of them here work in hospitals or in govt and you know what they are good at? Losing money.

Please don't take this personally.

Freeman Hunt said...

How about "5k"?

SteveR said...

Its getting close to being a meaningless distinction geneticallly. In any case the persons collecting and analyzing these type of data are almost guaranteed to be incapable of a meaningful statistical evaluation even in the unlikely event they ask the right questions to begin with.

Michael said...

The question is one that has been asked to satisfy a bureaucrat who would like the answer because he puts the answers in a book or a database. he thought up the idea because he had to have some reason to be a bureaucrat. Others will later decide that the information has uses.

Freeman Hunt said...

"I prefer the Preakness myself."

The Drill SGT said...

Where were the Moravians in the 17th century?

Moravia? Now the Czech republic?

Freeman Hunt said...

"How about La course du millénaire? ... No, not that either? ... You don't have any of my races on your form!"

Because I Said So said...

Yep. I work in HC and am finding that we are frequently collecting such data in our electronic medical records. Why? Because the government mandates it. And people just go about their business and say , "well, it must be good for us".

These are electronic medical records that the government is mandating. The electronic med record systems are going to, by law, need to talk with each other and will need to have very specific abilities and qualities.

I am not saying that there is not value in collecting data. I am not saying that the people who passed the laws mandating specific types of electronic record systems are doing so with bad intentions...although i am very suspicious that the dye is cast for bad things to occur.

Of course hospitals don't HAVE to buy the EMR systems that the government says are "ok". It's just that they will not get reimbursed as well from the government for their work.

If you look at who was on the advisory board that made recommendations on which types of EMR systems were "ok"....you'll find VIP's from the LARGE EMR companies who just happen to be in good with the government and stand to profit nicely by the mandates. EPIC corporation in Madison WI for example.

In "The Road to Serfdom" Hayek saw our loss of liberty coming from 80 years ago (and Tocqueville refers to it also, nearly 200 years ago). I look forward to the days when I don't have to worry what to eat, what to wear, what internet service to buy and what type of health care is right for me. I'm thinking that will be in about July 2011.

mesquito said...

So, healthcare is going to be made cheaper and more efficient via bureaucrats asking us pointless, intrusive, and irritating questions?

That's Harvard Smart!

T J Sawyer said...

I don't believe that there is any legitimate scientific definition of race. We are all "mixed" now unless you want to bring back the one-drop rule.

Race is therefore always self-reported. We should all just claim to be black. Once everyone sees that there are only blacks in the U.S. population, all this nonsense will go away.

Almost Ali said...

And many academics actually claim that Obamacarians have free will. Don't make Karl laugh.

Shanna said...

@Shanna I don't get your point. They rejected "Jewish" as the answer to the question they'd asked, as if I'm the idiot.

Jews of Eastern European origin have a higher prevalance of Tay Sachs, so I was wondering if they were just trying to get at that. Obviously I wasn't there, maybe they were just assholes.

Shanna said...

These are electronic medical records that the government is mandating. The electronic med record systems are going to, by law, need to talk with each other and will need to have very specific abilities and qualities.

I work in HC too, and although we have electronic records, I'm afraid making them talk to each other is going to be a nightmare.

Almost Ali said...

Where were the Moravians in the 17th century?

In Scotland, visiting the Knights Templar (now the Swiss Guard).

holdfast said...

Ann:

I hate to disagree with you, but it actually does matter - Tay Sachs is most prevalent among eastern European Ashkenazi - so if your Baby Daddy was from Spain (Sephardic), no worries. France or Germany, maybe some worries. East of the Oder-Neisse line, more worries.

Trooper York said...

They might be gathering data so they can ration health care according to your race.

For example the English get less dental, the Irish are off the liver transplant list and the Asians have to pay for their own eyecare.

It's cost containment.

holdfast said...

@Freeman - you stole my thought. I was thinking 1/2 Marathon - just don't have the time to train for the real deal. As it affects my records? Well, I have good cardio and blood pressure, but knees and ankles will need an overhaul soon.

Lucien said...

If you don't want to identify yourself as belonging to any particular race, you don't have to. That's fine.

No pressure.

wv: restio -- remainder of the group, e.g., "Don't know about the restio, but I'm putting down 'human' as my race".

Almost Ali said...

Obviously I wasn't there, maybe they were just assholes.

NYU had an [open] aversion to shiksa/Jewish unions, apparently believing it lessened, even degraded, the man/child.

Note: NYU is a Jewish organization.

Skyler said...

The military has been doing this for years. You're not required to answer, but if you fail to answer, the questioner is required to make his best guess. That's almost worse, I think.

How does one define the races? There are some physical characteristics of the so-called races, but what if you're not typical?

What if your dad is from Germany, but your mom is from Spain? Are you hispanic? Probably white, but half white hispanic. (Of course, hispanic is an ethnicity and can be either white, black, or native American).

What if your father is Kenyan and your mother is mostly English from Kansas? Are you white or black? I guess you're black if it gets you in the white house.

What if you're half German, and half Spanish, but the Spanish half consists of Moorish ancestry?

And is a South African who has children who were raised in the US now African American? Too much of a stretch? What about Egyptian ancestry? Are they African-American? I suppose African-American is an ethnicity, and not a race.

It's all hooey. And it's none of the government's business. This obsession with race is a vestige of reconstruction and has no place in a society of free men and women.

Trooper York said...

I would like to be able to hide my ethnicity but as soon as I disrobe the doctor always goes; "Oh you must be Irish."

Fred Drinkwater said...

This is not new. When one of my kids was born (20 years ago in the SF Bay Area), we were given the usual paperwork to fill out, but I marked the kid's ethnicity/race as Other: American. I signed the form.
Later, I noticed that the someone had crossed out my entry and selected Asian.

OK, my wife is Chinese (Han, more or less) but has been mistaken for Italian and Greek. I, on the other hand, am a flaming redhead from the Welsh-English border, and I was the one actually dealing with the staff.

So not only was this a blatant and weird example of what used to be called 'lookism' but someone edited a SIGNED document, almost right in front of my face.

So, no, I do not believe in government record-keeping re: race.

Fred Drinkwater said...

@TJSawyer:
Right. Go dig up, if you can find it, an essay on the subject by Les Earnest - ah, I just found it:

http://www.stanford.edu/~learnest/mongrel.htm

Race. Ain't no such thing. But that's just reality, not politics, so I guess we suck it up and cope.

D.L.McNamara said...

I have always found "Jewish" confusing. To me "Jewish" is a religion, one can convert to Judaism and then you are Jewish. Most whites when asked ethnicity will give the country their ancestors were born in. Recent Russian Jewish immigrants will identify as Russian not Jewish. Yet white NYers born in this country will answer Jewish rather than Russian or Polish. I know their is a community of Black Jews-what do they identify as?
Blacks from Jamaica will identify black as color and Jamaican as ethnicity while some American blacks will claim black as their ethnicity.
So Ann since most institutions do not devote a great deal of training to the meaning of "ethnic origin" whoever is filling out the form applies their own standard, whether or not it the standard the form designers had in mind.

Ann Althouse said...

"Moravia? Now the Czech republic?"

Well, there was no "Czech republic" when my babies were born, and there was no internet... or at least no internet connection... for me to look that sort of thing up from my NYU Hospital bed. I didn't know. My family has been in America since before the Revolution. I don't care what subdivision of Europe my ancestors set out from in the 1600s.

Ann Althouse said...

"I have always found "Jewish" confusing. To me "Jewish" is a religion, one can convert to Judaism and then you are Jewish. Most whites when asked ethnicity will give the country their ancestors were born in. Recent Russian Jewish immigrants will identify as Russian not Jewish."

So the diaspora means nothing? If we're talking about bloodlines -- and why does the hospital care about anything else? -- "Jewish" is more meaningful than some geographical place of temporary exile.

Ann Althouse said...

"I hate to disagree with you, but it actually does matter - Tay Sachs is most prevalent among eastern European Ashkenazi - so if your Baby Daddy was from Spain (Sephardic), no worries. France or Germany, maybe some worries. East of the Oder-Neisse line, more worries."

You're pointing to subdivisions of Jews, so why was it wrong to say Jewish. "Russian" or "Polish" -- or whatever it was -- wouldn't be Tay Sachs-related.

Ann Althouse said...

"Obviously I wasn't there, maybe they were just assholes.... NYU had an [open] aversion to shiksa/Jewish unions, apparently believing it lessened, even degraded, the man/child."

It really is shitty to make a new mother feel anything other than good about things. How dare some officious stranger inject an unpleasant memory into that phase of my life?

Ann Althouse said...

And then there was the family member who made an anti-Semitic remark...

What is wrong with people!?

Trooper York said...

Now when ricpic goes to the doctor and takes his clothes off the doctor always goes "Oh I see you are Jewish."

Of course that is only because he had 10% off.

So to speak.

Meade said...

Ultimately, it's for the FBI and the FBI only recognizes four races: White, Black, White (Hispanic), Asian.

I suppose you could call yourself Mixed and then specify which of the four are in your mix. But I would advise you not to play cute with the FBI.

Bender said...

To me "Jewish" is a religion, one can convert to Judaism and then you are Jewish

Technically, Jews are a people.

The word "Jew" is derived from the name Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, also known as "Israel," such that a "Jew" is a descendent of Judah. It was that tribe of Israel that remained fairly intact after one of the earlier exiles/diasporas (most of the other tribes being "lost"). But more importantly, they are part of that people, i.e. family, with whom God had established His covenant.

One might convert to the belief of Judaism, but that obviously would not make him a descendent of Jacob or Abraham, to whom the covenant applies, although his descendents would be if he married a Jew.

Bender said...

By the way, a great many, if not most American Jews are agnostic, which just goes to show that actual religious belief is not conclusive of the matter.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo said...

Mostly, they want your money.

The required information is just to decide whose palms need to be greased, and by how much.

Strike that.

I mean it's all for research.
Yeah, that it's it. Research.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

Pogo's just jealous of the lack of financial interest in research pertaining to colon transit time in the elderly.

Medical genetics research generates capital for a reason. To propose that it is all hype would be stupid.

Skyler said...

Meade, you are incorrect. The four races recognized by the military are most likely the same as the FBI and they are, white, asian, black, and native American.

Hispanic is an ethnicity and includes white, black and native American. I suppose it can include asian too.

Skyler said...

Oh, lord. C4bdh has gotten out of kindergarten again. This thread is about to take a nasty dive into incivility and childishness.

Pogo said...

Of course it's for research!1!

Ain't no reason to suspect the Democrats done created a system to force you to be in a category of a single race. No ! Nicht! Nyet!

Is all for the good of the peoples!
Sing praise and hallelujah!

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

Not that something like that would ever bother you, Skyler.

Someday I hope to play with toys as big as yours.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

Dr. F,

Are you really that suspicious of the promise of medical genetics or are you just up to your usual game of "fetch", etc.?

Irene said...

edutcher said, "They're trying to figure out which groups are going in front of the death panels the most."

Or close to that. I had a little situation that landed me in the hospital recently (everything is okay now). I historically have had very low LDL. The physician said, "well, if you were Chinese, your LDL would be forty."

(I also got to watch the social-worky video about Advanced Directives and Powers of Attorney every time I turned on the TV. The hospital also has an energy-laden show about healing and cures. Blech. This was not so two years ago.)

stevenehrbar said...

There is valuable medical information derived from vague groupings only partially coupled to biology and not reliably knowable, yes. And it was the best available when Ann had her kids.

However, it's much inferior to what we'd get from DNA test profiles. Making guesses that go wrong if it turns out the baby's ten-years-dead great-grandmother cuckolded the baby's great-grandfather is no longer the best we can do.

Hagar said...

Drill Sgt,
China is an empire with a lot of ethnic groups in it.

AA,
Jewish is a religion, not a race.

and whoever that was,
Spanish is a language.

If anything, this thread points out how silly all this talk about "race" is. The concept varies with the speaker and the context from "the human race" to Churchill's poetic "the Island Race." It just goes all blurry and indistinct when you try to come up with a definition.

I posted previously my experience in Basic Training, when I thought I would be smart and put "Human" in the blank. The cadre noticed and said, "No, No, Hagar." I said, "What am I then?" and he said, "Why, you are a Caucasian!" and I said "No, no! I am Norwegian!" And he said, "We are going to court martial you, Hagar!"
and so I became a "Caucasian."

Gene said...

If you ask me (and I realize no one has) the government generally collects racial data so professional victimologists can file discrimination suits.

Pogo said...

No, no, no. The all-loving Democrats insist it's all for RESEARCH.

Don't be deniers and liars and race-truthers.

Plus, your health records will be completely private. And all your sensitive information will stay out of the hands of, say, political enemies of the Health Care Enforcers who have Your Best Interest upmost in their minds.

No worries, for all is well.
So fill out the damn forms, you ingrates. Show a little gratitude for all the love they's throwin' yo' way.

Kirby Olson said...

Race is apparently a non-scientific concept with no genetic marker. I wonder what race is listed on Obama's birth certificate.

Oh wait, that doesn't exist.

Which is why he doesn't want to discriminate against all the other illegal aliens.

Hagar said...

When the pressure on the apartheid regime in South Africa began to hurt, they decided that they needed Japan as an economic ally, so Japanese would no longer be "Colored." The Chinese in Capetown heard that, dressed up in their Sunday finest and went downtown for dinner. The maitre'd looks at them and tells them to move along since "Colored" are not welcome, and the Chinese said, "But we'uns are Japanese!" and were let in, since the maitre'ds could not tell the difference.

Likewise, Sharron Angle was roundly denounced in the press for her remark about part of her audience looking "Asian," but it is a fact that many of our "Native Americans" and "Hispanics," or "Hispano-Americans" are indistinguishable from some Japanes or Koreans or others from that corner of the world. If H.K. Choi comes to the Southwest, he will have no trouble passing for a native.

If you cannot tell the difference, you should be careful about classifying people.

traditionalguy said...

I think Coketown has it pegged right. The nature of a National Health Bureaucracy is a public health mosel. All treatments are given or disapproved on a statistical set of guidelines. No patient is seen or treated as an indivdual case. That puts MDs in charge, stupid. Why trust them? The panels know best...and wait until you hear what the Panels tell folks over 65 that they will NOT get.

Pogo said...

Say goodbye to Health Savings Accounts, which let you use your own money on medical supplies and OTC items.

Because the new Obamacare laws demand that you must have a doctor's prescription to buy aspirin and tylenol and pepto bismol.

Welcome to Democrat health care!
More rules, more costs, and less flexibility.
Yummy.

edutcher said...

Skyler said...

Meade, you are incorrect. The four races recognized by the military are most likely the same as the FBI and they are, white, asian, black, and native American.

No, there's a fifth - that Hawaiian/Pacific Islander thingy, which I believe would include Filipinos, Indonesians, Malayans, etc. I've seen that on tons of forms.

Skyler said...

edutcher pointed out, No, there's a fifth - that Hawaiian/Pacific Islander thingy, which I believe would include Filipinos, Indonesians, Malayans, etc. I've seen that on tons of forms.


Yep. That highlights even more how meaningless the classifications of "race" are.

Prove that I'm not black. How do you do it? How can you prove I'm not asian? Does the government have genealogy records? And even if they did, how would they know I'm not japanese whose family migrated to Germany 100 years ago?

Meaningless. Except to promote racism.

Skyler said...

AA,
Jewish is a religion, not a race.


Actually, Jews were one of the earliest racial supremicists.

Fernandinande said...

"There's no such thing as race." Except when there is.

Fernandinande said...

Prove that I'm not black. How do you do it?

With genetic tests.

"Self-Reported Race and Genetic Admixture"

Hagar said...

According to the Bible, the Jews are the Lord's chosen people. However, a time back a local rabbi was asked what makes one Jewish, and, among other things, he said anyone who is born to a Jewish mother or a Jewish father. If that is true, there is no one on earth, except perhaps some of the recently discovered tribes in the Amazon and perhaps some Australian aborigines who are absolutely sure of their ancestry since the Europeans arrived, that can be sure that they are not "Jews."

Charlie Eklund said...

Ann,

It surprises me that you're Moravian. I've always thought of you as more of a Bohemian.

Coketown said...

Obamacare is losing major points with the critical intelligentsia. As we all know by now, race is a social construct.

virgil xenophon said...

Hagar REALLY nails it in so, so many ways. If one reads the academic literature when Arpartheid was still in force, one of the markers of the racist regime considered MOST odious by "progressive" academics in poli-sci, etc, was the fact of minor govt S.African bureaucrats classifying people as either "cape-coloured" or "black" (and thus greatly determining their future economic and professional prospects by such an arbitrary decision) by strictly visual observation. Now it is required HERE.....Oh the Irony..

And about Han Chinese being mistaken for Mexican, etc. My wife is a Louisiana Creole, which means she is an admixture of pure French, American French descendants, blacks, Spanish and American Indian. She is frequently mistaken for either "Latino" (people actually come up to her in the hospital and begin speaking Spanish) Philippine (Filipina), or even as being a native of India. LOL. And as I am almost exclusive of English and Scots-Irish (with a little Dutch-German thrown in (Glick)what does that make our son?
He is listed as white on his birth certificate and drivers lisc, as he is >75% caucasian by any measure--or does the "one drop" rule come into play? Madness..

BTW, a good friend of mine urges all his children (all thoroughly white) to list themselves as American Indian on EVERY government form for twofold reasons: (1) makes them financially eligible for minority programs--and who's to challenge them--demand a DNA test? and (2) if everybody would do this (as has already been alluded to here by use of the black designation) it would TOTALLY screw up the Govt data-base--which is my guy's subversive way of "Rage Against The Machine." LOL.

virgil xenophon said...

Oh, and someone--a HC worker--mentioned up thread the difficulty of getting all the computer systems to cross-talk to share data. A rpt approc a yr ago on the UK's NHS attempts to standardize their system should give pause. The NHS and the UK is a GREATLY/VASTLY smaller system than is America and the American hospital system by orders of infinite magnitude. And, unlike the US, the NHS is already greatly routinized and standardized in their reporting and operating systems by comparison. Yet they--much further down the road on computerization than we--are already 5 years behind schedule and costs have quadrupled. Plus most vendors have dropped out leaving them at the mercy of only two--one of which is the Virgina-based US Co which TOTALLY screwed up Louisiana's post-Katrina "Road Home" home repair finance program and siphoned off limited tax-dollars in outrageous up-front admin. fees. So---GOOD LUCK on "computerization" of hospital records as either a cost-saving mechanism or for rapid improvements of medical outcomes.

PatCA said...

Every entity receiving federal funds is now required to answer this question. We were at the Local State U. There's always the "oh, it's voluntary" and they say that two, three times in two, three different emails, and we all tire of it and eventually we all submit.

Soon it will not be voluntary. Soon they will tell you "you need some more Pacific Islanders" in your company, and you will go out and hire one. You will let someone else go to make room. You have to save all the other jobs! It's all for our own good, for a better society. Step Aside

Just me said...

Actually, yes, this is very important. I work for a Breast Cancer organization and by collecting demographic information, it was found that Black (Caribbean, African, South and North American) women have lower instances of breast cancer overall, but they tend to have tumors appear at a younger age.

Additionally, Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern European decent have extremely high rates of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations which lead to higher breast cancer rates and also earlier onset. Thus, you would want to screen these individuals earlier in life to catch their cancer early rather than other sub groups.

Our genes matter. If we can find patterns in certain demographics, it can help save more lives by detecting diseases earlier in their cycle. Will this also save money? Of course. But, if we can save money and lives I'm all for it.

DaveW said...

It really is shitty to make a new mother feel anything other than good about things.

Which reminds me of the post about the so-called "atheist minister" arguing with the woman on her deathbed about the existence of God, and her insistence that atheists were more compassionate than believers.

It really is seriously nasty to mess with people in these situations, people that are so sick or in so much pain they think clearly and are completely vulnerable to being abused. Any decent person filling out those forms for you would have looked at you and put "white/Caucasian" in the blank and left it at that.

Hagar said...

Just me,
Genetic heritage may indeed be important for diagnostic purposes, but that is your specific lineage, which is not discoverable by labeling you by "race," especially these days when everybody are moving around and inter-marrying.

Labeling me as "Norwegian" makes sense, since I am that old that we were pretty much the same back then, but "Norwegian" is not a "race."

Hagar said...

Just me,
Genetic heritage may indeed be important for diagnostic purposes, but that is your specific lineage, which is not discoverable by labeling you by "race," especially these days when everybody are moving around and inter-marrying.

Labeling me as "Norwegian" makes sense, since I am that old that we were pretty much the same back then, but "Norwegian" is not a "race."

MarkD said...

"And then there was the family member who made an anti-Semitic remark..."

Try my great aunt who, on meeting my Japanese wife said "I don't like orientals. She is a cute girl though." We don't get to choose our family members. That's probably good, because if it came to a choice between my wife and me, I'd be out of the family. It wouldn't be close. It might be unanimous.

Saint Croix said...

"What is your race?"

I am in a hospital. I am worried about cancer. I am worried about giving birth. I am worried about a drug overdose. I am worried about all sorts of fucking things. And now, on top of this, I am worried that I am not receiving individualized care.

Is someone going to look at me and pay attention to my symptoms?

Or are you just going to fill in a fucking box, and my fate will be decided by some faceless bureaucrat who governs by statistics?

White. Does that help? Have I got white man's disease?

Make sure you label my blood white. Don't want to mix it with that black blood. God knows it's different. I got white blood, white DNA, white chromosomes. I got white man fever.

Meade said...

"The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity, but that she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know – there's a reaction in her that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and sometimes come out in the wrong way and that's just the nature of race in our society. we have to break through it. What makes me optimistic is you see each generation feeling less like that. And now under ObamaCare, with death panels, I mean advance directives, typical white, I mean old racist people like my grandmother will be breaking through it in ever greater numbers.

Saint Croix said...

Actually, Jews were one of the earliest racial supremicists.

What a moronic and vile thing to say.

Jews were chosen by God as the people that would give birth to the Messiah. To call the Bible a work of racial supremicists is so stupid I am almost speechless.

William said...

The etiology of this question was benign. Institutions that received federal aid had to demonstrate that they did not disciminate. Thus it was necessary to keep such records. It was not so long ago that blacks were barred entry--even from Emergency Rooms......One's ethnic identity is not a fiction, exactly, but it is to some degree a social construct. The celtic Irish migrated not from England, but from Iberia in northern Spain. The black Irish thus have more genes in common with northern Spaniards than with the Welsh. During the middle ages, many Vikings would come over for party week ends and, charmed by the sunny climate, decided to settle down. And many English crossed over, moved beyond the Pale and became not Anglo-Irish but Irish. For all this, there is a stubborn cultural identity that remains Irish--Catholic. If you think it's just a social construct, just try to escape it.

roesch-voltaire said...

Althouse, they may have been interesest in whether the father was an Ashkenazi Jew because while many seem to live longer than most, they also have a predisposition to genetic disorders.Keeping track of those factors can be helpful later in life. The term Asian is far too general for medicine as there are differences for example the Japanese have a higher rate of stomach cancer and doctors consider that in annual physicals, but after living in this country for an extended period of time with the change in diet, it is not as prevalent.

mrs whatsit said...

It sounds as if they have to ask everyone, regardless of appearance, so here's my plan. I am about as Caucasian-looking as it gets, and if I'm asked this question, I am going to look the questioner in the eye and answer that I'm Hmong. Or Native Alaskan. Or Guamanian. Or Asian Indian. Or Negro. (I'm getting these categories from the 2010 census form and yes, it says Negro.) I'm going to say something different every time and I'll bet they will write it down without daring to question it. After all, isn't it up to me which racial group I choose to "identify with"?

Also, I just noticed there's no category on the 2010 census form other than "White" for people of Middle Eastern descent. Yes, I know they're Caucasians, but the form doesn't say "Caucasian," it says "White," and it seems to me that people from Lebanon or Iraq or Tunisia 1) often aren't especially "white" and 2) look at least as different from, say, people from Norway, or from one another, as do "Japanese," "Korean," or "Chinese" people -- each of whom got their own category on the form. Isn't this horrendously racist? Was there an outcry about this at the time that I missed?

Really, our whole country has descended into mindboggling silliness on the question of skin color. You could parody it simply by writing down the facts.

Class factotum said...

I signed up to take a Portuguese class years ago through the adult ed program in the Miami public schools. They wanted to know my race. I left the space empty, but the clerk demanded an answer. I asked her what the heck race had to do with it. I finally told her "human."

I am still fuming about the Milwaukee county clerk who insisted on a race designation for our marriage license. Completely irrelevant to the issue.

And the US Census called me because I didn't answer the race question on the census. I still politely declined to answer the question.

Skyler said...

The Saint wrote, Jews were chosen by God as the people that would give birth to the Messiah. To call the Bible a work of racial supremicists is so stupid I am almost speechless.


Right. Did you even read what you just wrote? (Or maybe you were being facetious.)

They declared themselves a special race of people. They continue this way of thinking that they are a special race of people chosen by god.

They were also one of the early groups that rejected henotheism and declared only their god to be a real god and all other religions were blasphemous.

So what part of racial superiority is an inapt description? I didn't say they were bad people or murderers. But they certainly made racial identity a central part of their religion as you point out yourself in your own complaint.

Skyler said...

I have no problem telling my doctor my race, or anything about me that might at all help him or her understand my health.

But I do not like the government wanting to know my race or anything about me.

Just me said...

Hager: lineage is often a key indicator to genetic vulnerabilities. While most of us will not, or cannot, know all of our ancestors history, it can be a tool to help medical professionals know what we may be vulnerable to.

It also allows us to see patterns in diseases. For instance, we know that testicular cancer, something males in my family have dealt with, is much more common in caucasians than blacks.

What I'm trying to get across is this: the more we know about how diseases impact races, the more we can prevent future harm from happening.

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chandra said...

This topic differs according to country!Thanks for standing up for a choice!
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