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Apropos of nothing, what race is this man?

Apropos of nothing, what race is this man? January 28, 2015

Don’t tell me you don’t recognize him!   Star Trek: Voyager and I go way back — it was how my husband and I first got to know each other, when a group of us got together to watch the show.  And, in Germany, one of the secondary networks aired Voyager, and it was wonderful German language practice, because, just as in the original, the actors all enunciated their words clearly, and, besides, it’s easy to have a basic grasp of the plot when you know the general development of the show.

Anyway, this particular character was Chakotay, who gets his own Wikipedia entry.  The character was described as Native American, with the tattoo symbolizing something about his tribe.  The actor, Robert Beltran, is an American of Mexican descent.

But here’s the crazy thing about the definitions of “race” our government uses:

the character, if he was a real person, would be labelled American Indian, defined thusly:  “A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.”

But the actor?  Well, he’s white.  That is, I assume the fact that “Hispanics” are generally identified as “white” rather than being of mixed European/Indigenous descent is due to the tricky business of requiring “tribal affiliation or community attachment.”  Which is just flaky — no other “racial” definition makes this demand, which, ultimately, puts individuals of Mexican or Central American descent, who tend, if they’re come to America, to be more brown (that is, of indigenous descent) than white, in this odd limbo, where they’re labelled as “white” by default, because the Census bureau doesn’t let them claim their indigenous American ancestry because they don’t have a “tribal affiliation” or a “community attachment.”

Know what else is flaky about the Census definitions?  The definition for “black” is circular:  ” A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.”  (North Africans are, in their definitions, White, as are Middle Easterners.)

Why was I thinking about this?  Don’t really know, but, anyway, that’s your random trivia for the day.

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