Respectful political discussion on Facebook

fightYes, you read that correctly: “respectful”, “political discussion” and “Facebook” in the same headline.

Someone I’ll call Brett posted on Facebook a link to an article titled Check the Race Box or Else<. It indicated that, according to the Boston Globe:

"Newly hired [City of Boston] employees fill out forms… that ask them to indicate their gender and to identify their race or ethnicity in one of five categories set by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.” Further, “employers may obtain the necessary information from existing employment records or visual observation if an employee declines to self-identify. Employment records and visual identification may be used only if an employee refuses to self-identify. ”

Brett wrote: “This is why we continue to have problems between the races in America. Only one option on an employment form is needed. Human Race — yes or no!” That, BTW, is something I actively do not believe.

Other person: Is it necessary to even ask the question???

Me: Or government wants to know what kind of progress (if any) is being made in discrimination in employment, lending, et al.

Brett: Roger, That’s the ostensible reason, but the unintended consequence is to perpetuate the very thing we supposedly want to get rid of — thinking that one’s ethnic background, skin color, gender, etc. are more important than our individual characters and accomplishments.

Me: So how does one then know if those things – racism, sexism – are getting better or worse? There are plenty of folks who believe racism is over, because of Obama, Oprah, et t al.

Brett: That is a good question. i’m not sure, however, that having to put one’s race or gender on an employment or census form tells us very much. What ‘race’ is my grandson whose biological father is African and whose mother is “white”?

Me: No doubt definitional stuff is tricky. 1 out of 7 marriages in the US this decade is mixed, including mine. There may be a point when this becomes impossible to calculate, at which point, the question will become moot.

That was pretty much it. Difference of opinion, but no nastiness or animosity. Hey, maybe all of Facebook is like that! (I SO do jest.)

Oh, the last word came from another guy: After my DNA test, I was told that my ancestors were from Africa over 100,000 years ago. So, now I check African-American on that box every chance I can. Rumor is we’re all African American…

That is probably true.

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