Mr b: Oh, I forgot to tell you – the census people came the other day.
Me: What? How could you forget to tell me? You know I have been waiting for the census police to come back since 2000!
Mr b: I don’t know. It wasn’t a big deal?
Me: Not a big deal? It IS a big deal! What did you tell them?
Mr b: What do you mean? I answered their questions.
Me: You didn’t answer ethnicity, did you?
Mr b: I don’t know – I just wanted to get rid of them so I could get back to work.
Me: Oh My GOD! You answered ethnicity!! How am I supposed to Fight the Power if you don’t help me??”
Mr b: Whatever.
Me: I can NOT work under these conditions.
Mr b: *gets as far away from the crazy as he can*
It’s Census time! Are you excited? Yeah, me neither. Not that we have received our census form or anything. I think we’re on the census shit list since the last time around. I refused to answer a question, and they sent the Census Police to my house. If that conjures up images of a big, scary, official in a suit, let me pain a clearer picture for you – it was an old lady. An old, frail, persistent little bugger.
The question in…um…question was ethnicity. And I refused to answer it. Because there is no need for it. I’ll answer sex and race and income and education, but not ethnicity. We’re a long way off from Ellis Island and I can’t see why anyone needs this information. Or even how most anyone can answer it correctly. Mainly because they only give you one option – you have to pick ONE. And while there are some people out there whose entire family tree may have come from only one country. But most of us? Heinz 57.
And while I respect my heritage, I don’t identify with it strongly enough to pick any one over another. Do I say Italian because my maiden name ends in “-ini?” I loved my pap and his Italian swear words. But then I am turning my back on my Welsh grandfather. And my English relatives and a bunch of other ethnicities I don’t even know about. And my Argentinean grandma. OK, she wasn’t really from Argentina, but my Pap told me she was when I was little and I believed everything he ever said. So I spent years of my life telling everyone my Gram was from Argentina – using it in school assignments and everything. And I got really mad when someone didn’t believe it – being from a small town where everyone knows everything – and I complained to Gram that no one believed that she was from Argentina. And she said, “That’s terrible. But I’m from Louisiana.”
But aside from the fact that I could never in a million years narrow it down, I consider myself to be American. Not Italian-American or Welsh-American or Belgian-American or fucking Venution-American. AMERICAN. So the
little old lady census police came to my house because they wanted an answer. I refused. I am an American, I said. American Indian?, she asked me. No, American. Honey, we just want to know what your background is, what your parents are, she whined. They’re American. Well, where did your grandparents come from? Same place all babies come from. And then they lived their lives in America. And my grandfathers went to war. For America. They were American. I don’t care if somewhere along the line a Scottish sperm met and Irish egg or a Spanish X met an Inuit Y. I am American. So SUCK IT, Census Police!