I pledge allegiance, to my skin color

In 5th grade Social Studies class, I learned that America was a “melting pot” and was told that this helped make us great. People of all different backgrounds, nationalities, and races came together into one country. E Pluribus Unum. Once you got to the United States, all that mattered was that you were free, and we were all equal before the law. No more:

Latinos Must Sign Ethnic Affidavit To Qualify For New York City Business Program

That creepy title from the Huffington Post should be enough. Unfortunately the story continues with a faint awareness that something about all this is uncouth, yet treats the following questions as legitimate for a government to ask:

Do Brazilians count? What about Spaniards?

Defining exactly who is “Hispanic” and who is not, when the label should be applied and when it should not, is a matter on which academics, Census-takers, and even those who identify themselves as part of the ethnic group, sometimes disagree.

Those debates have intensified as cities, corporations, and universities expand, contract, and otherwise change diversity and affirmative action programs. In New York, Latino entrepreneurs who want to take advantage of a city program designed to give businesses owned by women and minorities access to information and guidance, must first swear that they are Hispanic, in the way that the city defines it.

Sad examples throughout history immediately come to mind:  Continue reading