Date Written: 17 July 2019
“What's Your Ethnicity?”… Who Cares
Usually, I’m all for long explanations on recent news that I can somehow relate to a historical topic, but this time (hopefully this will be the only time) I’m keeping it short. On July 16th, a Mrs. Kellyanne Conway, who serves as a counselor to President Donald Trump, asked a White House reporter what his ethnicity was. That raised a red flag for me, immediately. Why? Well, the reporter, Mr. Andrew Freinberg, asked Mrs. Conway, “if the president was not telling these four congresswomen to return to which their supposed countries of origin, to which countries was he referring?” This question was in response to President Trumps evidently racist comments, towards four female House Democrats who spoke out against him. In response to this question, Mrs. Conway asked Mr. Freinberg “What’s your ethnicity?” A very obvious deflection, that she used rather than answering an apparently difficult question towards, which countries Mr. Trump was referring in his statement on Twitter. Mr. Freinberg went on to ask, “Why is that relevant?” Which leads me to the central point of this piece.
Why is a person’s ethnicity or race truly relevant? Why does it matter if you’re black, white, yellow or any other color on the spectrum? Why does it matter if you’re African-American, Mexican, Iranian or anything else. Well, it mattters and at the same time it doesn't. Your race and ethnicity gives you a past that you can choose to identify with or completley shun; it gives you history. At the same time, it doesn’t define who you are.
We don’t exist in the Antebellum era anymore where, if you were black, you were a slave and sold at the auction block, based on the whim of your white master. It’s no longer the 1910s where the American military was completely segregated and Hispanic Americans served in an infantry unit entirely composed of Hispanic combatants, the majority of which were of Puerto Rican parentage. It’s no longer the 1940s where Jim Crow permeated every aspect of life, and ruled how people chose to live their lives and dictated what was available to them.
It’s the 21st century, our physical apperances, shouldn’t define us. We exist in a new world where you can do what you want regardless of who you are, and what you look like. If you set your mind to it, it’s achievable. We don’t abide by these grandfather rules that you have to get a college education, get a job that will offer you a 401(k), then settle down, have a nuclear family and retire at 65. Those expectations no longer apply, so why should this concept that race and ethnicity defines us endure as well?
Mrs. Conway’s defensive statement asking Mr. Friedman about his ethnicity, was simply uncalled for. There are more simple ways of deflecting, rather than urging a person reveal a topic that they may not be willing to disclose. Alas, this is all just my opinion.