Boxes to check: Asian Disagregation

Recently I have seen some posts on data disagregation on Facebook.

Maybe I don't understand the issue. But for me it sounds like it's like this.


Some people think we should all check one box.


Other people think that there should be more options to check, more boxes.


Having written for the Cape Verde News Network, I learned from scholar Marcelino Bala and from others that Cape Verdeans, a group of people who, it can be argued, are the beginning of the push for European discovery in this hemisphere, do not even have a box to check.


So I can see why people who are Asian but feel that they aren't really fully represented by that word, would want to have their own box.

And I can also see why some would say... let's all stick together. Why should we separate ourselves out into different groups.

Nowadays, I usually feel represented because I have the option of checking Asian, white, and multi-ethnic.


Many people nowadays can pretty much check off every single box.

Here's the thing. If you are against more boxes in the Asian category... shouldn't you be against boxes altogether? I mean couldn't you argue that we are all American? Sometimes this view is taken to be racist and anti affirmative action or a MAGA statement.

But I'm just saying. If you are against more boxes in the Asian category, you could argue that there shouldn't even be an Asian box too because we should all be one category, American.


Now let's look at the positive side of boxes.

It means that more people who need services get them. That is the most positive way at looking at why we collect this data. And in truth, I do believe that nowadays, this is why we collect data. To know what language we have to translate government and school papers into or what sort of interpreters we need.

Only, wouldn't it then be better to leave a black space and have the participant describe themselves, just in case, taking the Cape Verdeans as an example, there is no box for them? I'm sure there are other groups that feel similarly unrepresented. There are Native Americans who have no tribal affiliation or whose tribe is not recognized. Does that mean that they shouldn't receive services or don't deserve attention?

Does checking off "white" mean that you won't get services if you are poor? I don;t think that is the case.

What if you just lie?

Or many darker people, who did not identify as African American or Black or some of the more antiquated terms, at the right time before they had a box but not so far back enough that they were not allowed to do this... would check white.

Here's a question. Even nowadays. Can a person who is extremely dark skinned, you had a white grandfather, check off white? I mean technically they are white right?

If you go back far enough these little surveys of people's category are not only not for services, they are not even benign. They were collecting records like this back in slave times too remember.


Why do they need this data now? Is it for services? If you believe that it is, then yes, we should have ore boxes to get those services to people. If you believe that it is not... then we shouldn't even have boxes.


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