Letter to Secretary, Board of Regents, University of California re: Multiracial Category

March 18, 2004
George Winkel
Letter to Leigh Trivette
Secretary, Board of Regents
University of California

March 18, 2004

Ms. Leigh Trivette
Secretary of the Regents
1111 Franklin Street, 12th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Re: Item RE-42 proposed by Regent Ward Connerly on March 4, 2004.

Dear Ms. Trivette:

Please convey to the Board my support for UC Regent Ward Connerly’s RE-42 proposal the UC collect data from potential students using a “multi-ethnic” or “multi-racial” (multiracial) check box, and that the UC President should request that the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) revise its guidelines to permit this. Here are some reasons I support it:

The increasing numbers of births of multiracial persons point to perfect racial integration. (Census figures indicate that interracial marriages have nearly doubled in numbers each decade since 1960.) Racial integration is a long sought goal of our society. I think it is hard to comprehend more perfect integration than interracial marriages and the multiracial identity of their children.

Multiracial denotes the blending of two or more of the socially recognized “different human races.” And multiracials often are recognizable (e.g., noticeable to strangers) just as the so-called “different races” are recognizable. Therefore, multiracial identity matches the public’s common perception of the racial “look” of multiracial persons, as well as multiracial persons’ self-perception.

Multiracial persons tend by their existing to de-construct the spurious division of our American society into named “different races.” First, the multiracial, who can be of any combined fallacious “pure races,” will eventually replace them. Second, the multiracial demonstrate clearly our single human species (mutually exclusively inter-fertile); we all are descended together from recent shared ancestry in our common human race. Third, the only ways to crush multiracial persons into the “pigeonhole taxonomy” of mutually exclusive “different races” are unworkable or unconscionable.

The OMB Statistical Policy Directive 15 (as revised, 1997, & implemented by the University 2003) specified that when self-identification is used, a method for reporting more than one race should be adopted. Currently, persons identifying themselves by more than one “race” on applications, tests, forms, and other documents by checking more than one racial classification box are not documented that way by the University. Multiple box-checkers are instead reassigned into one “racial” classification, and the rest of their self-designation is disregarded. By changing their self-designation, the University effectively voids people’s right to self-identify in the University environment. Such “collapsing” of an individual’s self-identification effectively resurrects the Jim Crow segregation era “One Drop” rule (O.D.R.). While this OMB “collapsing” tabulation scheme is not the University’s fault, the Board, through RE-42, would be positioned to effect positive change on the behalf of its growing biracial and multiracial student community.

Liberty to check-mark more “races” than one has its merits. However, identity by “different” marked “races” is no suitable substitute for multiracial identity, because it implies that respondents are conflicted “hybrids” of the fallacious “pure races.” Implied hybridity is disparaging. Consequently, any nineteenth century “blood quantum” apportioning scheme (“Quadroon,” “Octoroon,” etc.) is likewise disparaging for implying “unnatural hybrid.” Resort to the O.D.R. that harks back to the early 1900’s era, of Jim Crow and segregation, is even worse. The O.D.R. mimics domesticated animal breeding — animal husbandry. The eugenic O.D.R. purported to rank human beings on a racial “evolutionary ladder” of social Darwinism, pitting “pure blood” against “mongrel.” Merely “one drop” of “black blood,” legally classified a person “black” regardless of appearance, ethnicity, or anything else — thereby reducing “black” to a de-humanizing “taint.” Current OMB “collapsing” multiplies the old O.D.R.’s stigmatizing sense of “one-drop,” “tainting” all “non-white races” “colored,” not only “black.”

Repudiating the O.D.R. is an especially good reason for allowing multiracial self-identification. The O.D.R. is still strongly socially influential today. The O.D.R. as recently as 1967 was enforced as felony criminal law. The Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), Supreme Court decision proclaiming a constitutional right to marry overturned the O.D.R. and all other such “blood race” classificatory legislation for enforcing so-called “anti-miscegenation” laws. However, the O.D.R. custom — and the calling “just black” individuals known to have any sub-Saharan African ancestry — is prevalent still. For example, a recent Philip Roth novel entitled The Human Stain, which a few months ago was released in a motion picture version (starring Anthony Hopkins & Nicole Kidman), tells a story of a “white” professor exposed as a “black” man “passing for white.” Roth was quoted saying he based his novel on the life of the late Anatole Broyard (book critic for the N.Y. Times), who barely more than a decade ago was a familiar media figure. The controversy over who is “black” or “passing for white” is ongoing.

The same throwback custom alleging existence of “white” persons who are “actually black” denies the holding of Loving v. Virginia, which in 1967 de-constructed the “pure white race.” Loving overturned the oldest system of segregation laws defining and insuring the “blood purity” of the “white race.” (Loving ended 276 yrs. of “anti-miscegenation” marriage bans.) The self-defined “pure white race” ceased to exist 37 years ago along with the legislatively enforced O.D.R. Multiracial identity will help to end the left-over talismans of twentieth century government eugenics and Jim Crow institutional racism.

Multiracial does not reinforce the social construct of the “different races.” Instead the multiracial people tend to de-construct “the races.” Multiracial is fundamentally different from the classificatory “taxonomy” that are named “races.” Multiracial does not establish any “different races.” Multiracial only recognizes racial blending which is or may be visible (e.g., noticeable to strangers — & can be of any combination). Multiracial is a descriptive modifier word, not a “new race.” Multiracial modifies only the noun race in human race — the true one. While governments continue classifying individual persons into “different races” (a dubious basis for making “different” equal) multiracial needs to be part of the racial classificatory paradigm.

My complements to the Board for considering this matter. I hope it will act on Regent Connerly’s RE-42 proposal that the UC collect data from potential students using a “multi-racial” or “multi-ethnic” check box, and that the President should request that the OMB revise its guidelines to permit this.

Thank you,

George A. Winkel, Esq.

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