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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 08/20/2009

Boxed In by Fairfax Schools' 'Race Survey Form'

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Brad Johnson
McLean

This week, I received a letter (actually, my “parents and guardians” received it, but I’m old enough to speak for myself) from Fairfax School Superintendent Jack D. Dale informing me that I must fill out an “Ethnicity and Race Survey Form.” The letter stated that “the federal government requires that both ethnicity and race be identified” and asked me to indicate which of the categories provided I use to describe myself.

I do not wish for the federal government to identify me as a member of any group that I have not voluntarily joined, a distinction that extends to racial and ethnic groups. The letter goes on to say, in boldface type now, “If you do not answer both questions, school personnel are required to make selections for you.” I reject the premise that federal, state or local governments have any right to dictate my identity, racial or otherwise. I do not consider myself a member of any of the groups provided, I have no desire to join any of these groups, and I do not wish the government to regard me as anything but an individual.

I regard race as a social fabrication. Perhaps the government should do the same.

The writer is entering his senior year at McLean High School.


By washingtonpost.com editors  | August 20, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
 
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Comments

Do you also object to the government classifying you as a male, an American citizen, a minor, and a member of your particular family? You didn't voluntarily join these groups either, and they all have profound effects on your life.

Posted by: premium1 | August 21, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I would also add that all of the above groups, save your gender, are also social fabrications, much more than racial phenotype.

Posted by: premium1 | August 21, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I agree with premium1's points so I would categorize your post as pre-graduation angst over authority (I was there myself not too long ago)...except for one little factor. The federal government also mandates that colleges can't force you to reveal your racial/ethnic background on applications. So colleges still ask, but you are not required if you don't want your background to affect the admissions decision. For this reason, I would question the rationale behind this survey you describe.

Posted by: fighterace88 | August 21, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

It's probably for No Child Left Behind; the schools need every racial group to improve, not just some.

Posted by: Simon23p | August 21, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes there are good reasons for all those questions on all those forms. On the other hand, if you aren't sure how to respond when a form asks for your race, you could write: "HUMAN."

Posted by: Sherrill2 | August 25, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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