As the race for the presidency continues, the pundits keep slicing the American electorate into neat little groups so that it’s easy for them to reference large groups of people, which truthfully, irritates me more than a little bit. Just listen to the political talk shows and you’ll hear things like “the black vote” or “the latino vote.” Whenever I hear a pundit comment on group of people like that I always wonder why they never say “the white vote.” The fact that they don’t only illustrates the ridiculousness of the whole practice.
I’m sorta glad they don’t use “African-American” or “Asian-American” or “Latino-American.” I can’t stand the habit of hyphenating and combining “American” with whatever nation of origin the culture’s ancestors emigrated from. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind ancestral pride, but combining and hyphenating only illustrates to me that someone is valuing their nation of origin, which they may or may not have ever even seen, over the nation in which he or she holds an actual citizenship.
I suppose the only other answer is to address groups of people as “black” or “white.” But there again, “black” and “white” doesn’t really describe us. I’m not really white; I’m more of a reddish-tan. During the winter months I am, in fact, translucent, but that begins to change around mid-March. And Wesley Snipes notwithstanding, I’ve really never seen a black person. I’ve seen mocha and light brown, but never straight-out black. And even though white and black people aren’t really offended by the terms “black” and “white,” I’m pretty sure Asians and Latinos wouldn’t like to be categorized by a color.
Also, categorizing a whole group of people by color, or even by country of ancestry, makes it seem as if those people are of one mindset, which is a ridiculous proposition. Regardless of what political pundits seem to think, not all black people think alike. Neither do Asians. Or W.A.S.P.s. (Well, the Amish might, but I don’t actually know any of them to check.)
The only answer I can come up with is that everyone in the nation needs to take the same aptitude test. Our answers would get us grouped and cross-referenced into many different categories and sub-categories. That way we’d all know that the label that personally applies to us represents us accurately, instead of simply reducing us to a stereotype for easy reference.
Wouldn’t it be nice to hear a pundit say “Well, Senator Obama is polling well with comic book nerds, but at the same time he’s doing rather poorly with fantasy football dweebs”?