Ethnicity as Laundry List

 “Hi. I’m Elena. I’m Swedish, Scots-Irish, Filipino, Japanese and Navajo.” Does this sound familiar?

Pronouncements like these sound empowering- but then again, forgive me the curmudgeon for being skeptical. Mixed people (it seems, particularly in the West) rattle off these combos rather stridently, as if they are Freddie Roach calling out staccato boxing combos: “left, right, left, right uppercut, left hook!” What should be a marker of achievement, as in I can speak: “Bahasa, French, and German, in addition to English,” or I can code in: “Python, PHP, and Java” becomes a boring laundry list. I mean, do you know the first thing about being Swedish or Navajo? Could you at least name two cities in each of those Nations? It is like saying: “I got homeboys in Watts, East Compton, and Chesterfield Square.” These statements suggest you should offer respect, but are also meaningless enough to permit you to shrink from under cross-examination- again, big bluster with a get-out clause- a hallmark of entitlement. “Uhh, no, no, no, I drove through Watts once and bought a used fixie from a guy off craigslist- dang, that’s what I meant by 'homie!'”

Sure, most people don’t think that by naming 5 ethnicities they have claims to 5 different club memberships. But then again some people are that vain. The warming notion that there is something hip about being a child of the world, by being born into this world love of multi-ethnicities, well, I guess people decide, shucks “it’s kinda cool; I’ll just play along.”

But that kind of thinking is entitled thinking, thinking that is weak, and thinking that is not compatible with the idea that you must earn it. It is what you do that makes you. The ethnicity laundry list is worse than phoney- it is just boring.

Solution: stop laundry-listing and tell people who you really are- or who you really want to be.