In America there are four races, here listed in order of appearance, using the names that The Economist gives them:
1. Native Americans – came from north Asia thousands of years ago. Accounts for one American in 100.
2. Whites – came from Europe, starting in the 1500s. Accounts for 80 Americans in 100.
3. Blacks – came from Africa, starting the 1600s. Most came as slaves. Accounts for 13 Americans in 100.
4. Asians – came from Asia, starting in the 1800s. Accounts for 4 Americans in 100.
The remaining 2% are mostly mixed race.
But that is according to the U.S. Census. The truth is probably more like this:
- 66% white
- 20% black
- 8% mestizo
- 4% Asian
- 2% Native American
Some would add Hispanics to the current list. I do not because they are distinguished not by race but by speaking Spanish or having a Spanish family name.
The names The Economist uses are acceptable in mixed company in America in 2006. But by 2056 they are sure to seem old-fashioned, just as those from 1956 seem to us now: Indians, whites, Negroes and Orientals.
Even worse, some of these acceptable names obscure the truth:
People in America are treated differently according to the colour of their skin.
As if we were all still eight years old. We could all have a good laugh over it if the game was not played for keeps.
It may not be as bad as it was fifty years ago, but it is still bad enough.
For example, suppose you are looking for work. If you have a last name that seems Jewish and you sound like a white person over the telephone, then you might call up a company and they tell you they have six positions open. But when you get there an hour later, suddenly all six positions have been filled!
What happened? When you got there they saw that you are black. Your education and experience and everything they found out about you over the telephone suddenly does not matter. The colour of your skin now becomes everything.
I did not make up this story; I do not have to.
Not getting good work because of your colour has all sorts of consequences – on your health, your marriage, on where you can live, your children’s education and on and on. It is not amusing.
If you are black you are two times more likely to be out of work, to be in prison, to be poor and so on. You have to be two times as good as a white person before whites will admit that you are as good as they are. Ask Condoleezza Rice. You can even see it at work on television on “American Idol”. That is the way it works. Still.
White people act like they own America, like it is their country and no one else’s. Black people helped to build America and have given their lives to make it free, but it is as if they are ugly stepchildren.