In the last US Census, conducted at the turn of the millennium, my sister and I answered the inquiry of our race in the same way, “Other Race,” and wrote-in our explanation: “Multiracial.” (We had the option of selecting up to six racial designations, but felt that restriction was a bit too confining.) Our reasoning was as follows: there being no known genetic basis for racial classification, and the census itself using nothing more than self-identification to make the determination, we could only conclude that race is essentially a matter of personal choice.
We chose to be multiracial.
So imagine the blow to my self-image, then, when I emerge from a month of media oblivion in Darfur, Sudan to find that some goddamned eggheads at Penn State – a place better known for crappy winters, hard drinking, and Nineteenth Century football uniforms than anything remotely academic – found “the race gene.” That’s right: one lousy little gene in more than 23,000 in the humane genome mutated somewhere between 50,000 to 20,000 years ago to create white-guys. We are talking one measly alteration of a nucleotide somewhere in the 3 billion base-pairs that make up our DNA – or an SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism), as the geneticists would say. (Asians, it seems, got their own, separately occurring mutation of the same gene.)
slc24a5 is pissing me off!
Now I’m simply a honky. How boring! I’ll probably be too ashamed to show my (white) face at the door when the next census rolls around.