Thursday, October 8, 2009

Coloring Inside the Lines

So it is the actions of my sister that have me thinking today. Now, you've got to know my sister to understand why I find this so funny and why it's got me thinking. She is a very free spirit and is very comfortable telling you exactly what she is thinking at any given moment. She doesn't dig process for process sake and she despises labeling. She recently was asked to fill out a form for a background check (don't worry, she's a teacher, it wasn't for anything super top-secret or James Bond-like). One of the questions on the form was "Ethnicity".

She skimmed through the choices, "White, Black, Hispanic, Native-American, Other" before making her selection. She, of course, selected "Other" and then wrote "ochre peach" in the line to the side.

Her answer, aside from cracking me up, got me thinking. Why is it that we have bucks on forms that still silo us and why, in the name of Binney and Smith*, do we actually call groups white and black. Have you ever really seen a "white" person? Honestly, look at white crayon....go ahead and grab one, I'll wait......and then hold it up next to a "white person". Do you see a match? For the sake of my argument, go ahead and try the same exercise with a black crayon and a "black person". Doesn't match, does it? Yeah, didn’t think it would.

See, this bugs me on several levels. First, if we're trying to teach kids colors, then let's not muddy the waters with white and black when it comes to people because clearly, people are neither white nor black. Crayola has finally figured that out and now has a line of flesh colored crayons for children's coloring pleasure. True story!

Secondly, why is it that we often see “white and black” as choices next to “Native-American and Hispanic”? If we’re all so hot and bothered about calling people by colors then shouldn’t it say “white, black, beige, somewhat beige and tan?” I mean, come on, if we’re going to do it, then let’s be consistent, shall we?

Third, so many have worked tirelessly to change the mindset that we are not separate races; we are all one human race, so why all the hubbub about what color bucket we can each drop ourselves into? And just because they call it "ethnicity" on forms now doesn't mask it for me because honestly, it is still the same "which bucket do you belong in" question. Why does it matter? Why does it matter what color my skin is or what my gender happens to be? And if we're being honest, my background is so mixed I, like many people I'm guessing, could honestly check almost every one of there little buckets.

Look, if I am filling out an application for a job or a back-ground check, why not just base it on something silly like my credentials or my back-ground? I know, silly me (hang on while I crawl back into my box that I cannot help but to continually attempt to think outside of).

I get that we want equality, but if we're going to continue to ask for and track based upon our differences, how is the mindset every going to change? And riddle me this Census Bureau, how does my sister's ethnicity help her background check and clearance for teaching? Wouldn't it be more important to verify that she, oh I don't know, has an actual teaching degree and hasn't run any children over lately? See to me, those would be more prudent points upon which to verify and track.

The same question was asked of me when I submitted my annual PTA application this week. Apparently the Texas PTA isn't as evolved as the Government (insert giggle here) as they still posed the question as "Race". In honor of my big sister, you'll be happy to know that I responded to their question with "Other - Human Race."

....I believe my application is still pending approval.

* Note: Binney and Smith were the creators of Crayola Crayons back in 1903. See, you even learned something in today's session. Well done all!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sick to Discover

Perhaps you've noticed that I haven't been here in a while...or then again, perhaps you haven't (gasp!). For those of you who have noticed, it's not that I gave up on my favorite corner of the blog world, but rather that I was enjoying a super special week long event I like to call "getting hand-foot-and-mouth along with my girls." Yes, it's a time honored tradition and is sporting good fun! If you haven't ever had yourself a week long quarantine in your own home along with a sick infant and seven year-old, why you're just missing out!

While I was home I made a shocking discovery...I do a LOT! I'm not talking about the stuff nobody notices that magically happens around my house (like cleaning the baby bottles and packing the kids bags each night), we all know that's just part of the gig. No, I'm referring to how much I actually accomplish in a standard 24-hours outside of the every-day tasks.

Just sitting there, stuck on the couch with my laptop left me feeling so absolutely helpless! Answering just emails and IM? Really? That's it? I'm used to doing about 3 things at once. Truly, as we've discussed before, I rarely sit and watch television without doing at least one other thing. After years of counseling, a sign, in my opinion of great parenting, I have come to blame this need for constant movement and entertainment on my Mother. Sure, I can sit and smell the flowers like Ferdinand the Bull while doing absolutely nothing else; but why not smell the flowers while reading a book, listening to music, painting a picture or playing in a park with my kids?

I noticed this trait developing back in college (insert flashback waves and music here). I had a very, very, very hard time settling on just one major. I bounced around between at least four that my post-college-partying brain (I mean, over studied-brain) can recall. I vaguely even remember a double-major stent one year, due to my inability to settle. For me, there was just too much to many amazing options, how could I possible just choose one for "the rest of my professional life"?

Now, some 15+plus years later, I still haven't settle on the "one" perfect career path. I know writing is in my blood and is the main goal for my future; however, thanks to my older sister, my artistic side has once again been opened and I am finding so many opportunities springing up.

Want to volunteer? Well of course, who doesn't?!?! (We've covered this, so you all know how I feel about paying it forward, and back for that matter.) Sure, many people are involved in one, perhaps two, organization either by donating time, goods or money. Ah, but this is me we're talking about here. I apparently won't be happy until I've walked right up to the line of "spread too thin" when it comes to my extra curricular involvements. I have enough obligations here that I truly, hand to God, have two binders to organize my details. This is so not a bragging right, just an example of my overzealous nature.

Then there are hobbies, things I do to relax (see, and you thought I didn't know how). I can't just read one, not me; why at this very moment, I have three books that I am currently reading in rotation with two more already pulled from the shelf, poised and ready to enter the rotation at the first opportunity. I've got a mosaic project, curtains, painting, cross-stitching and updating my stamp albums also in full swing at this moment; not to mention several other crafting explorations sitting on my To Do List to tackle next. Yep, tis true, I actually have a To Do List for projects and hobbies.

See, this is what I was referring to earlier. I never realized, until I was sitting at home, just how busy my "happy meter" likes to be kept. It got me wondering, all joking aside, why? Why do I feel most fulfilled when I'm constantly moving...constantly busy....constantly thinking?

Sunday afternoon, while trying to balance a few tasks around the house with spending the afternoon with my oldest daughter, I got my answer. I am a life embracer. For me, like college, life offers so many opportunities, so many options; I just never want to miss out on anything. I never want to miss a moment of showing my children a new experience. I never want to miss the chance to challenge my artistic side or stretch my creative muscle while decorating my house. I never want to miss the chance to give back to someone, the unconditional love and support that someone else gave me when I needed it. I don't want to miss the exhibit at the history museum or the chance to learn about the past from a great book.

Nope, I was sick to discover that while I was sitting there being sick, I was missing out on so many chances to live.

So I'd like to take this very public moment to sincerely thank my Mother for exposing me to such a variety of things as a child and for opening my mind to the possibilities that life has to offer. Mother, it was you who gave me this inner drive to constantly enjoy and live my life. Thank you!

As for the rest of you, as a reminder, smell the flowers, but don't ever miss an opportunity to live....and I'll see you back here tomorrow. ;)