Editor’s note: This is the second part of Jason Kirwin’s letter. The ﬁrst part was printed last week and be read here.
Recently, I was interviewed by a census worker (hard job by the way.) She asked me what color I was, and although it’s fairly obvious, she read the entire list of diﬀ erent colors Americans can be as directed by the federal government. I chose from the list and said, “I’m white.”
She then asked me what the “origins of my white race were.” I again hesitated (de’ ja’ vu?) and after some confusion, said “I believe I’m German, Irish, Polish, and Norwegian. (Probably missed one, sorry Grandma.) But after trying the identify the origins
of all my white kids, I nicely mentioned that at this point, I think we’re just Americans. Several generations ago, this country was made up many clearly deﬁ ned sub-groups of white Americans including,
but surely not limited to:
Irish Americans, German Americans, Italian Americans, and Norwegian Americans. Historically, those subgroups didn’t get along very well.
Today, those separately deﬁ ned subgroups generally don’t exist (I’m an example why,) and
the historic conflicts between them is a thing of the past. I wonder what would happen
to race relations in the United States if the federal, state, and local governments, as well as all political parties, forbid the practice of identifying/separating Americans by the color of their skin, but rather judged them only on the content of their character.
I’m confident America would be far less divided and people would have to hesitate and think (only if asked a silly question of course) what color a person’s skin was.
Jason Kirwin, Donnelly