By Lyzz Repa
One of my favorite songs is Electric Relaxation by A Tribe Called Quest. Truth – I don’t care for the song in its entirety. It is one particular line spitted out by recently deceased Phife (3/22/16) that does it for me. In fact it probably does it for you too. Heck, it does it for so many people that the line has since been incorporated in numerus song: “I like em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian.” That line right there is everything. In that simple sentence lies one of my biggest pet peeves. The difference between race, ethnicity and nationality!
There’s something about when people don’t know the difference between the three that just does something to my skin. I understand ignorance, or at least I try to. I even understand stupidity, well it’s not like you (not you) can help it. But not knowing the difference between those three I refuse to understand. I just won’t do it. Look, personally I would like for all of us to be recognized as Human beings. If you want to get specific with it fine: Homo Sapiens. However neither state nor federal census will add that box for me to proudly check, although they’ve added everything else under the sun, so I need us to get on the same page.
Growing up I was told we had three races. Recently because people are so dead set on being properly defined, I mean politically correct, they’ve added an extra one. They are as follows: Caucasian (Aryans, Hamites, Semites), Mongolian (northern Mongolian, Chinese & Indo – Chinese, Japanese and Korean, Tibetan, Malayan, Polynesian, Maori, Micronesian, Eskimo, American Indian), Negroid (African, Hottentots, Melanesians/Papua, “Negrito”, Australian Aborigine, Dravidians, Sinhalese). The fourth one depending on who you ask it is a different answer, scientist are still fighting over it. Typically, you can tell someone’s race without any help. Whenever it is confusing more than likely they are mixed-race. I say mix and not bi-racial as it covers the entire spectrum. ATTENTION: it is very possible to be mixed ethnically and nationality wise yet still only be one race. This brings us to my next point.
Ethnicity is often confused for race (nerve-racking) and nationality (I can see why depending on how you pose the question. Where are you from? I can see the ambiguity in it). They are not one in the same. I understand some people use it interchangeably, but I’d appreciate it if you could stop that. It is annoying. It would be like me asking if you like fruits and you say “citrus”. Great, what kind? If I ask you what is your nationality and you proudly answer Spanish, please believe I will make the deduction that you were born in Spain. And when I ask what part of Spain do not get snarky and insulted that I would ask such a question.
“No, that’s where I’m from but I was born in the USA” with a condescending tone will not be an appropriate answer, well, it is an answer – I just will pretend like I didn’t hear it. I will roll my eyes at you and I won’t do it after you walk away either. I will do it right in front of you. Actually I will exaggerate the process, making sure I roll them slowly while opening my pupils as wide as I can to bring your attention to my irritation. To keep it simply your ethnicity is the social group you share the same customs (even religion) with. Your nationality is the nation/country in which you were born or have naturalized yourself to.
So in that infamous line we have all three. Haitian, Nationality. Puerto Rican, Ethnicity. I understand some groups are very proud of their heritage, I get it – I am too, but Puerto Rico is a United States of America Territory. Therefore, telling me you are Puerto Rican is you denouncing your ethnicity. And the “brown, yellow” if we do an eye test (which is not always accurate) we can say he is speaking of race; brown – Black.
Look, you don’t have to agree with me even though it is the reality of it all. I just appreciate the fact you let me vent about a topic that is dear to my heart. I have much more to say about it but I wouldn’t want to bore you with the rest. At this point, it’s Whatever.