If you don't watch television or listen to the radio or go online or drive on the road (or live under a rock), you may have avoided all the hoopla for the 2010 census. I can't do a damn thing these days without being reminded I have to return my questionnaire. I understand how important it is to be counted; however, it is a tricky thing--that census form--with all it's pretty little boxes.
I have never had an easy time checking off boxes about race, ethnicity or place of origin. For years, as a kid I'd only mark Hispanic because I didn't identify with my Filipino culture. I didn't understand that the folks behind the boxes didn't care about cultural identity or my feelings about my identity. They just wanted something cut and dry, black and white, no blurry-grayness. Later on, when I figured that part out, I'd check Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander (because that's what the Filipino folks told me to do) but depending on my mood, I'd sometimes check "Other." I remember getting a little ticked when Puerto Rico made an appearance all by its stand alone self and Cuba was nowhere to be found (although it is now on the Census, so I'm a happy camper).
I have children now, which makes box checking even trickier. One is just out of diapers and the other can't even walk yet but already they're being asked to check off little boxes. They've inherited a little bit of baggage from my husband and I (Cuban Filipino, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Irish--and that's only what we're aware of. There's no accounting for mystery ancestors we don't even know about). While I think we're a pretty cool little melting pot, we have it easy when it comes to boxes. Our choices are spelled out for us. But what about folks who don't have a box all their own? What do people do who don't have enough space to fill it out themselves?
Forms like the census have changed a lot since I was kid, and it will be interesting to watch as it and other forms like it change as the face of future generations continues to flourish with diversity.
What about you? Have you completed your census form yet? Please share your comments.