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Ethnicity and other things
cap, captain miss america
teaberryblue
I had a really fascinating conversation with hymnicide last night. We talked about a variety of things, like alternative education, what it means to have career goals as a teenager, ethnic identification, and definition of 'whiteness'-- how some people are considered white in one geographic area and not considered white in another, or how some white-skinned ethnic groups are considered 'more white' than other white-skinned ethnic groups. We talked about how, growing up where we did, about half the people we know are Jewish, and most of the Christians we know are Catholic, not Protestant. We talked about some of the things applespicy discussed in her post yesterday: about the real failure in the US to create pedestrian-friendly cities, as opposed to European cities that make it very easy to walk everywhere and to everything. We talked about the lack of a need for a car where we grew up in comparison to many places in the US. It was interesting.

Nora and I both grew up about ten-fifteen minutes away from each other, although she's more than ten years younger than I am. We had an interesting conversation about how college admissions have changed and how expectations of kids in high school have changed. Even how the reputations and demographics of certain top universities have changed: I don't want to name the school publicly, but she is looking at a school that I had a really hard time with when I went to visit. When I went there as a 16 year old bisexual kid looking at colleges, I was scared by new I heard about gay kids getting bullied on campus. She says that the same school now is reputed for being very open and liberal. Man, things change a lot.

Anyway, we started talking about whether being 'white' in New York is different from being 'white' in other parts of the country. For example, in some places, Jews and Italians are both definitely considered white, while in other places, they are definitely not. Growing up, I had a lot of friends whom I considered white who were not treated as white in other situations: Israelis, Iranians, Armenians, and so on. So I decided to make a poll about ethnicity. I would like to say that I had trouble wording some of these questions, so if you find the terminology limiting or in any way offensive, I apologize in advance, and please feel free to correct me or offer your own suggestions in the comments. I had a hard time deciding when to use 'white' as a label and when to use 'majority' as a label. Same goes for anything I might have overlooked.



Poll #1172765 Ethnicity questions

What is your ethnicity?

Look at question #1. Did your answer include:

The country you now live in (eg, you live in England and consider yourself English)?
11(17.7%)
The country you or your recent ancestors (great-great-grandparents or later) came from originally?
14(22.6%)
The country your very old ancestors (before your great-great grandparents) came from originally?
9(14.5%)
The country your spouse/significant other is from?
0(0.0%)
A country you pretend to be from because you like talking in a funny accent at work?
0(0.0%)

Regardless of your answer to #1, do you know where your ancestors are originally from?

Yes, and it is the country I live in now.
5(7.4%)
Yes, and it is a country I don't live in now.
57(83.8%)
My ancestors are from Krypton and you are triggering my issues with the destruction of my home planet.
5(7.4%)
No.
1(1.5%)

What country/province/state/county is your current residence?

Do you consider yourself to be white?

Yes
56(82.4%)
No
4(5.9%)
Sometimes
6(8.8%)
I don't know
2(2.9%)

When you ride the bus or train, or walk into a store, most of the people there (not counting employees):

share your ethnicity
24(35.3%)
have a different ethnicity
11(16.2%)
have an ethnicity that is the same or different in about equal numbers
10(14.7%)
It depends
22(32.4%)
I don't know
1(1.5%)

Based on your observations, were you/are you...

a member of the racial/ethnic group that makes up the majority in your country?
0(0.0%)
a member of the racial/ethnic group that makes up the majority in your home town?
0(0.0%)
a member of the racial/ethnic group that makes up the majority where you live now?
0(0.0%)
a member of the racial/ethnic group that makes up the majority in your elementary school?
0(0.0%)
a member of the racial/ethnic group that makes up the majority in your high school/college?
0(0.0%)
ever in a position of being the racial/ethnic minority for a long period of time (a year or more)?
5(7.4%)
a member of the religious majority in your country?
0(0.0%)
a member of the religious majority in your community (town or school)?
0(0.0%)
My experiences are more complicated than this and I will explain.
5(7.4%)
I don't really know.
0(0.0%)

Have you ever...

felt as if you were being singled out because of your ethnicity?
1(1.6%)
felt as if you were being singled out because of your skin color?
1(1.6%)
felt as if you were being treated as a member of a minority even though you considered yourself part of the majority?
0(0.0%)
felt as if you were being treated as a member of a majority even though you considered yourself part of a minority?
1(1.6%)
gone visiting in a country/state/city/town where you have been treated as more or less of a minority than you consider yourself to be in your hometown
6(9.8%)
had a friend whom you considered 'white' who identified as something else.
7(11.5%)
had a friend whom you did not consider 'white' who idenfied as 'white.'
0(0.0%)
Had another relevant experience you will explain in the comments?
2(3.3%)

Does being the only member of your race or ethnicity in a group make you uncomfortable?

Yes
3(4.5%)
No
34(50.7%)
It depends what race/ethnicity the other people are members of.
9(13.4%)
It depends whether the other people are all members of the same ethnic group and I am the only one who is not.
21(31.3%)



My experiences being the minority come from the years I lived in Japan. If you want to know about some of them (good and bad), just ask! :)

Yeah! That was one of the things I was thinking about when I was making this poll-- I think that for most people, you are either in the majority or minority and it never changes. It must be very strange to be used to being treated one way and then go somewhere where you're suddenly the 'other.'

Interesting poll! As far as ethnicity goes, I'd say Jewish, but then the questions asked about countries, so I added 'Russian heritage," since that's 75% of my family's background.

I would consider myself white, but at the same time I wouldn't consider myself an ethnic majority, just because there are so many times, especially around December, when we're basically hit over the head that we live in a country where our experiences are not the default and are made to go along with things just to make others not spaz out - and they do spaz, some of them, if it's even hinted that you don't want to deal with any Christmas stuff. Christmas is all around, and apathy isn't received well. Basically, in order to get along with people, you have to pretend to care about their holiday for a month, as though this were your excellent experience as well, or things get sticky and sometimes people get affronted, even if you're being polite.

I wrote an essay in university years ago in a nonfiction class about being a Jewish American at Christmas, and I might go through it sometime and update it.

See, I am in a similar but not identical situation because I am ethnically part Jewish but I was raised Catholic. Jewishness in itself is interesting because it is both a faith AND an ethnicity-- and being a German Jew or a Russian Jew is different from being German or Russian. I part identify as Jewish because being ethnically Jewish is different from being religiously Jewish and it's important because of issues like Tay-Sachs. And because, weirdly, when I leave New York, I get treated differently in some places because I 'look Jewish' without my even mentioning it. The funny thing was that I grew up in a mostly-Jewish neighborhood and looked like the other kids, but was in the minority because I didn't go to Hebrew school and such, even though my family still paid lip service to Passover & other major holidays (we always had a seder but didn't get rid of chometz or stop eating anything- because, well, being Catholic, it's very hard to observe Easter in the middle of Passover).

Though I answered question 1 with my "background," I really don't consider myself Irish/English/Welsh/NA. Some of my great-great-grandparents were immigrants, but all I have ever known is being an American. If cultural practices were passed down, they didn't make it to me.

I like that you included "hometown" and "where you live now" in your questions about ethnicity, because that's definitely something that I noticed when I came to school in Arkansas. This place is white. In my hometown, white people are now actually in the "minority" (though, of course, white people still have all of the authority, sadly), as the area has a lot of Hispanic transplants. It was very strange for me to leave that behind and come somewhere where being anything but white was really pretty rare.

I answered "no" for the last question, as I've never had that feeling, but I'll admit that I have not often been in situations where I am the only white person. Judging the feelings I would have, then, is kind of difficult.

I've lived in many different places with very different ethnic makeup, so I definitely know that where you are now might be totally different from where you were raised-- I actually went to a college that was supposedly more diverse than my high school, because there was a larger percentage of African-American students, but I actually felt like it was more 'mainstream white' in attitudes than where I was raised. And I definitely felt like my college was segregated in ways my high school wasn't.

In my case, my family's cultural practices were always put ahead of being 'American,' which was one of the things Nora and I were talking about that interested us.


I feel like the minority/majority issue is real weird in my part of Texas?

Okay first. My ethnicity answer has nothing to do with anything at all. Because the last generation of my family that had anything to do with our various homelands was so long ago. At the same time, I don't know that I would identify myself as an American. It's not that my family has been in the USA a long time, it's that my family has been in Texas a long time. If someone asked me where my family was from, I'd say "Texas". I mean, my dad's mum's side is one of the founding families of Fredericksburg. Beyond that, when my friends start saying "Oh, I'm Irish" or "My family is German", it's kind of awkward to say "Oh, I'm British/German/Scots/Russian."

My part of Texas is split on ethnic makeup, really. I wouldn't say white or hispanic is the majority. We're sort of even. And groups really tend to mix, especially since you get interesting situations like a friend of mine in high school. Her last name was Avery. She had blond hair, grey eyes, and olive skin, and she spoke fluent Spanish because her grandmother didn't know a word of English. *shrug* So how you get treated based on skin color, and whether or not you get treated differently really depends on the area you're in and the people you're around. Because some areas the majority tends one direction, and in some areas it's another.

I think Texas is a lot like New York and a few other places in this country in that even though we're not culturally similar to you, our own cultural/ethnic issues are so different from other parts of the country that it's sort of like we're our own countries? That was part of what Nora and I were talking about last night. New York is such an ethnic and religious hodgepodge that it's hard to describe to other people sometimes. I had a friend in high school who was part black, part Japanese, and being raised Jewish, for example.

I'm white, the most conventionally white kind of white, and I grew up and still live in an area outside DC that's mostly black (with a growing Hispanic population). If I take public transportation from my area, everyone will be black, but once I get into the city center, it'll be much more white, sometimes the majority. College was very white, though it's considered "diverse", and I felt a little out of place regarding that for the first year. The same kind of went for study abroad in England (maybe that was because they all thought I was gay and treated me thusly?), and all my friends in my hall ended up being Asian international students, ha ha.

The "Jewish people aren't actually white" thing is always so weird to me.

See, I felt the same way in college? And in my case my college had more black students than my high school my a long shot, but I still felt like it was more 'white' than my high school experience.

The Jewish thing is weird to me, too. Partly because I grew up in a town that was mostly Jewish.

It might be interesting to put this on one of those survey sites that gives you multiple pages and see if it changes the results any. For #1, I was automatically going to follow the standard government designations and put White/Caucasian, but then I looked through the rest of the questions and thought, "No, acknowledging the Judaism probably makes more sense in context."

Actually, what I should have done is worded that one as "what do you consider your ethnicity to be?" I think? Because what I was trying to look at was what people consider themselves vs. how they feel the rest of the world sees them? Like, in New York, I am definitely Standard White Girl #452, but in other parts of the country, I am Italian Girl or Jewish Girl.

Teel deer on my family..

This is a hard poll for me to fill out - when I am asked where I'm from, I say "the US" but my ethnicity is "Eastern European Mutt." Besides the history of the Jews in terms of being constantly kicked out of countries, there is the fact that no two of my relatives are from the same place, thereby making be not identify with a country so much as a region.

I also don't know where all my relatives are from - in part because of the Holocaust, in part because of Ellis Island, and in part because one great-grandmother was a dirty liar.
We also have weird anomalies - like Mediterranean anemia - that shouldn't be there and we can't account for them.

Then there is the fact that the place I grew up was predominantly White and Asian, but the area where I live now is much more Latino/a and Black. So if I go to my parents house, the people around there look like me. Around here, not so much. They're about 20 miles apart.

I have been told in the past that I am not white because I am Jewish, but my skin was once an issue in a class I was teaching for an internship. My students were fifth graders and all POC. More than once they made reference to my skin color in a nasty way, and I heard one parent complaining about "that white girl." I don't know if it was me or another, but it made me very uncomfortable.

When I was in London, a few of the Brits I talked to on a regular basis had never known a Jew before. There, I was ethnically "Jewish" rather than anything else. I went looking for something I wrote about that, but I'm not sure where it went.

Anyway. That's enough from me. I think I qualify as "ethnically confusing."

Re: Teel deer on my family..

When I've been in England, I am definitely "Jewish" even though I'm not even religiously Jewish, so I get you on that. I think the whole Jewish history thing is way too confusing for any poll to describe it-- my grandfather may or may not be German, but he went through a German agency to get adopted by a Christian family who may or may not have been related so that he could get out of Europe during the Holocaust. So we have excellent records of his adoptive family, but nothing about his original, Jewish family.

Like styletax, living in Singapore was a year where I was very very clearly suddenly in the minority. That year made me realize a lot of new things about race and ethnicity that had never occurred to me before, because I had always considered them within a western context.

Also, on top of my year in Asia, I've lived in California, in DC, in Ohio and in Iowa - all of which have incredibly different racial and ethnic diversities (or lack thereof) so I feel like I've gotten very different perspectives and experiences in each place.

The only problem I sort of had a problem with was the very last one - I feel like it needed a caveat. I wouldn't say that I would be uncomfortable thrown into ANY situation where I was the only member of my race or ethnicity. If I was, it would have been a really really long year in Singapore. But there are certain ethnic groups with whom I don't have any experience, so I might feel more uncomfortable around, say, a group of Palestinian students, because I have never had many Palestinian friends and I don't know a great deal about their culture or values. But that's also where nationality comes into play, which I think is a huge thing that this poll ignores. A group of Palestinian-Americans would be much easier for me to feel comfortable around, because we would all have the American cultural bond as a starting-ground. But if it were a group of students from Palestine, I might feel more uncomfortable and out of place. Does that make sense?


Yeah, that makes total sense and that was a question where I was definitely considering throwing in more options but didn't want to overcomplicate it.

Part of the ignoring nationality was deliberate, because that's what Nora and I were talking about-- we wanted to see how people relate to themselves in terms of heritage versus nationality, and if you have separate questions for each one, you don't see whether people choose one first over the other.

Oh! The first one asked for our heritage? XD My bad. Um, Irish, Austro-Hungarian, Czech, and Welsh. If I was asked to define myself, I'd say New Yorker. I always felt a closer connection to my state than my country. I think it's because we have such a defined culture separate from what could be called American culture. Even then, I always felt weird identifying as my ethnicity first. It's always been in the back of my mind and something like, "what? Oh yeah, I'm a chick and I'm white and I'm from New York. Whatever. You see South Park last night?"

One of my pet peeves in high school (once my senses came to me as I was kind of a moron through most of high school), were the white kids who tried to have white pride, but without the racist connotations. (They kind of failed. XD) It always sounded like they didn't care about where they came from (and they knew damn well where their ancestors came from), and it was first priority to show the black kids and hispanic kids that they weren't so different, but they didn't do such a good job of it. >.< I think the best example I can use is what makes up the white liberal bingo card.

I was talking to a friend the other day and we decided what qualifies as white is if you can join the klan. So Irish, Jewish, Italian, and anything not WASP is disqualified, which is kind of my elitist idea that you should be proud of where you came from instead of a generality. (And I only hold this demand for white folks who actually can find out where they're from. It's not my place to say for others, but then again it's not really my place to say to begin with? But if you know your roots and reject them anyway, I'm kind of...eh.)

Oh, no, that was actually what Nora and I were talking about, was 'if you ask people what their ethnicity is, will they give you their country of origin, the country they currently live in, or something else?' It was actually that question that gave me the idea to do a poll.

I totally feel the need to elaborate. ::laughs:: I think the setting and gender really change things a bit as well.

I think my issues that I need to work through in regards to other races are extremely class-based. Sort of. I can't explain the way my brain works here.

Ok let's start out with elementary school. I'd say the majority of kids were white. We had 2 Asian kids that I knew, and actually my best friends (3) were all African American. I didn't really think anything of it.

Middle/High school same sort of situation. There were two African American girls in my graduating class. I think only one in the class before me. That girl (I've forgotten her name! Which is a shame because she was awesome) liked to describe herself as the chocolate sprinkle on a vanilla, white frosted cupcake. There was one Asian girl in my graduating class. She was one of the two Asian kids I knew in elementary school, actually. Past that, there weren't really any racial differentiations. Or at least, not that I knew of. I guess I classified everyone else as "white."

College, mostly just more white kids, with a small mix in of African Americans, mostly male. I actually don't think I encountered many African American females at my college. Right now I only know (in person) 1 at all.

There are loads of both Mexican and African American people in the area I live now, and honestly there likely were when I was growing up as well, but I just never knew it because I lived in a very privileged bubble. I'm not sure if other white people are in the majority or not. If you combined Mexicans and African Americans we might well be outnumbered.

I actually find my classism harder to overcome than my racism. Around here though it's easy to confuse the two. If I'm nervous/scared because there's an African American man walking towards me on the street, it's not just because he's African American, but also because he's 1) male, 2) in my area likely to be not-well-off, and 3) most likely race/class/gender to commit a crime for my area. This certainly isn't to say that white people can't and don't commit crimes, but the statistics say that if I get mugged/raped/etc around here, it's going to be by a non-white person. Most of the white people around here are well off, and have no need to commit crimes.

I tend to sympathize a lot with a ton of the illegal and legal immigrants here, because my grandfather was an immigrant from Puerto Rico. They're totally different places, but they have a common language. I've worked with an awful lot of Mexicans, and was comfortable enough with them to hang out outside of work, but I won't go to a Mexican grocery here without Sean. I don't feel safe. I don't know why that is.

Man, I feel like I'm just rambling. Oh, another point. The question about being in the minority. I think I'd feel a little weird if I were the only white person in a group where everyone but me was the same race, but if I were the only white person with a mix of people from a lot of other races I wouldn't be too fussed, I don't think.

Defining white is weird though. I never really thought about it.

I have a lot more I could ramble about, but I'd need prompting, I think. My brain just kind of went "wait, where was I?"

We're actually having a relatively ethnically diverse set of groomsmen at our wedding (I hadn't really thought about it!). Out of 5 guys, one is Armenian, and one is African American. Yeah, the majority is still white, but damn, for the old south, that's pretty diverse!

I definitely sympathize on the class issues part-- I was less well-to-do than most of my friends, but still upper-middle-class, and my family has only improved themselves financially since then, so my idea of 'poor' is skewed. I have relatives who are much, much poorer than we are, and I think that helps me keep things in perspective, but I think I expect that people have a common set of experiences that we don't.

And the Mexican grocery thing I understand. Being in a community that is predominantly Mexican makes me uncomfortable because I think there are different standards of acceptability for how women are supposed to be treated? And I just plain don't like the way Mexican men treat me. I always feel really guilty saying this, and I feel like, well, how much of this is my issue that I need to get over? Because it makes me feel like I am taking issue with a group of people for their culture, but I can't walk down a street in a Mexican neighborhood without feeling very uncomfortable about the way men are looking at me or speaking to me.

Answering question 1 stumped me for a good while, I think mostly because there isn't a term that encompasses the racial and cultural aspect of being a white American and my understanding of ethnicity is that it encompasses both of those. Culturally, "white" seems too broad of a category (which I think is part of what you're getting at in this post? In Minnesota you've got people who could call themselves ethnically Irish or Swedish or German because that's where their ancestors are from and they've kept some of the culture, but still consider themselves white), while "American" really doesn't incorporate race.

I also think part of this lack of term comes from white Americans being in a position of privilege where we don't need to think about what our ethnicity is, because we're the majority/consider ourselves the norm and ethnicity is a way of classifying and describing those other people who don't fit the norm. (See also: White America doesn't have a distinct culture.)

Question 6 I put "It depends." With stores, most people share my ethnicity. On the bus it really depends on where I'm starting from, where I'm going, and what areas I go through to get there. On the bus rise home from work, I'm usually in the ethnic minority--although now that I think about it, the ridership gets whiter the closer we get to my apartment, especially once the bus is out of downtown.

That was exactly what Nora and I were wondering about-- what do people think of when they see 'ethnicity' ? Especially for Americans, whose 'ethnicity' may be different from their country of origin or the country they live in.

And I think there are so many different kinds of 'Americans,' too-- I would say it is nice to have a term that doesn't define us by race-- I think it was mezzogiorno below who was talking in someone else's journal about how in England, you're "English," and not "African-English." But even among white, Christian Americans, there is a huge cultural divide between, say, people from Northern California and people from Chicago and people from Maine.

I agree that white America as a whole doesn't have a distinct culture, but that's possibly because it's a faulty definition...there are so many cultural differences between the people who are white Americans.

Because I live in the center of the city, my subway is usually a hodgepodge, although if I travel to certain neighborhoods, it will change in its makeup.

That was very hard on my brain to fill out! But now I feel like I need to offer explanations... On the last question, it probably makes me sound more xenophobic than I am, because I'm not inherently uncomfortable being the only white girl in a group, but I wanted a 'it depends' option because there are certain circumstances where I've found it uncomfortable - being the only one who doesn't speak a language or getting lost in a certain area of SE DC. (No, I didn't think I was going to be shot for being a white girl, I just didn't appreciate all the guys yelling catcalls.)

And DC kind of makes my answers confusing anyway, because it's a pretty fucked up city when it comes to racial issues. African Americans are the majority of the population, but the town is so segregated, it's pretty easy to forget that fact if you never venture out of certain areas.

Oh, and my first elementary school was a majority hispanic school in Tucson where they bussed kids in from the surrounding areas for diversity so I was like one of three white kids in my class, but I don't remember thinking that was weird at the time?

Yeah, I sort of got to the point where I just wanted to give people fewer answers that didn't take differing circumstances into consideration to force them to pick. Partly because I wanted to force myself to own up to my own issues with things like this, too. Like I was saying to Nikki up above, I definitely feel a bit weird in some neighborhoods-- for the same reason you are talking about in SE DC-- I just plain don't like having men make degrading statements about my tits, and it definitely seems to be something that is more acceptable among certain ethnic groups as opposed to others.

That is an interesting experience-- but of course, when you're young, most kids don't realize that their experience is different-- but it isn't often you hear from white kids who were the minority in their schools. I would ask what it was like but, like you said, I'm sure it was just normal to you.

Very interesting poll.

For question 7 I answered "My experiences were different" primarily because I felt none of the other options applied to me.

While I went to a high school that you might as well have just called All White, and my university was primarily all white as well, I still never felt I shared the same ethnicity with many of them. Much of this, I think, comes from the fact that people see the word "ethnicity" differently.

We used to have Multicultural Day at my school (which we always took to be a bit of a laugh considering how few non-white people went to my school), but it was actually quite interesting. One year we actually spent the day in seminars discussing the concept of ethnicity, and everyone was asked to write down what they believed themselves to be. Our group was a little bit rubbish as our teacher kept trying to convince this kid Jurgen that he is actually "Norwegian-American" whereas in reality he's just...Norwegian.

In the end very few people used the same terms to describe themselves, and it was interesting to see the many different countries that people originated from. But what was more interesting was to see what cultures people identified with now. My friend Allison, for instance, lives in a very Italian household, they hold onto that culture very strongly and live in it, despite living in the US. In my family we live in a very Irish household, as my mother's entire family are basically from Ireland and a lot of the culture has been passed down and is still "kept alive" today.

When I lived in Britain, however, when ethnicity is asked for on forms you do not get Caucasian etc. you get something like this:

White British
White Irish
Other White Background

Black African
Black Caribbean
Other Black Background

etc.

I would always pick White British as it just made the most sense at the time for me, but other people would say to me "You should say Other White, as you're American". But, um, no. Ethnically I'm mostly British, so that's what I put.

But, to answer the question, I have never felt in the majority my whole life. I lived in many countries growing up, and while they were all primarily "white", they were all very different cultures and they've all made me who I am, which is different from who other people are.

Maybe I am just strange but I don't really see there being a real majority or minority, just like race it seems we're lumping people into convenient categories whereas everyone is so different that they're the ultimately the same :)

Ethnically I'm mostly British, so that's what I put.

I definitely agree with you that the problem here is that "ethnicity" is SUCH a broad term. I define ethnicity based more on culture, whereas based on what you're saying, you base it on ancestry (I think?). I consider my "ethnicity" to be American, because that is the group of people I identify with most closely. For example, I feel that I would have more in common culturally with a black American than I would with a white Italian, even though my great-grandfather was born in Italy. But you're saying that you're "mostly British," I'm guessing based on where your ancestors are from.

Race, religion, culture, and nationality all play a part in deciding whom we identify with, so I definitely think Tea was right on in highlighting the fact that we all define our "ethnicity" as something totally different!

Wow, I get my own tag? I'm flattered! :D

I have lived in Levittown, THE model of suburbia, my whole life. Nearly everyone who lives here is white; you can count the total number of African Americans that go to my high school on one hand, but there may be one or two Asians in each of your classes. The thing that separates Long Island along with the tri-state area in general is that being Jewish is a common thing here. I played Dreidel and ate matsah at my elementary school when the holidays were coming up, in addition to all the normal Christmas things. Jewish and Catholic are about equal here, you're usually one or the other. It's surprising to me that in other parts of the country, those religious groups are considered the minority.

Although my entire high school is white for the most part, nobody affiliates themselves as being white. They're Italian, Irish, Jewish, German, etc. We identify ourselves based on our heritage, and we're proud of it. It's normal to ask what one another's heritage is, and everyone knows their own - and often it's a list of 3-5 different countries.

My elementary and middle school made a huuuuge to-do about celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas, too. I definitely remember learning to dreidel with chocolate coins, and I got a very thorough education on Hanukkah. In addition to that, we talked about the 5 million variations on the Christmas holidays. I'd say my schools were split 1/3 Jewish, 1/3 Catholic, and 1/3 Protestant. (Being the South, we weren't just Christian, we were either Catholic or Protestant.)

Ethnicity: Freckled Arse Scotswoman. Does that count? I think it should.

I hate St Patrick's Day for this very reason (which makes me a terrible person probably, but it happens), for it's less of a "woo let's be Irish for a day!!" celebration than it is, because as a child, I used to not be allowed to go outdoors on the 12th of July and know why the colour orange is a bad idea for someone of my heritage. Plus, St Patrick's day has for my entire time of living in the States never come and gone without at least a dozen people asking me what it's like to be "Irish" and making leprechaun jokes at my expense. Which isn't funny, as I'm not Irish. :| And if I was, I'd be twice as horrified (plus it's still funny as I live in an urban ghetto where the majority of the population is...not white).

Though I'll admit some of the BEST times I've had was when I was in Mongolia and everything was so different, but at the same time, still enlightening at the same time.

Oh, God, people ask me if I'm Irish all the damn time, and we moved from Scotland 150 years ago! St. Paddy's is annoying because it's like, "Yes, I have red hair. No, I'm not Irish, and the only Irish person we have in our ancestry moved from Scotland in the first place." (He moved from Scotland to Ireland to South Carolina to Texas. I'd classify him as "nomad.")