Before 1990, the United States Census recognized “Asian / Pacific Islanders” as a single race. Then, as a result of Pacific Islanders seeking recognition as a separate census group, they were designated to their own race.
In 1990, the category “Other Asian or Pacific Islander” was added to the questionnaire along with a write-in area for all unspecified groups of Polynesian, Micronesian or Melanesian cultural backgrounds. The 1990 Census counted 365,000 NHPIs, a 41% increase over 1980.
The Census Bureau split NHPIs off from Asians to become a sixth basic racial category, along with the existing white, black, American Indian, Asian, and Some Other Race (Latinos/Hispanics are treated as an ethnic, rather than racial, group).
Proponents of the idea that race is based in biology should ask themselves – what was changed or discovered in the DNA of Pacific Islanders such that they were designated as the sixth race? Certainly we can agree that the ethnic groups comprising the Pacific Islander race share some cultural similarities with each other, but these are socio-political characteristics subject to change over time.
Moreover, America’s invention of a new race resulted from socio-political pressure. It’s not like scientists conducting human genome sequencing discovered something new and came knocking on the Census Bureau’s door.
As recently as this week, the government issued a statement about classifying Filipinos outside of “Asian”.
While genetic traits may be more common in one population pool than another, there are simply no genes that are specific to any racial group. There is also no phenotype (physical appearance) specific to any racial group. Take the epicanthic fold in the eyelids more common in persons with East Asian heritage for instance…
Dr. Frank Poirier, a physical anthropologist at Ohio State University, says the classical explanation of epicanthic fold depicts it as an adaptation to the tropical and arctic regions where many Asians live. The fold is described as a sun visor protecting the eyes from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation or as a blanket insulating them from the cold.
According to Poirier, the problem with this theory is that a substantial portion of the Asian population evolved in areas outside of the tropical and arctic regions. In addition, he says epicanthic fold is not limited to Asians. “John F. Kennedy had a variance of the fold and it is found among Europeans, especially the Irish,“ he said. “It`s just less prevalent.“ The fold is also found among infants worldwide. Poirier attributes the fold to pleiotropic genes–single genes that control more than one characteristic or function–but he has no explanation for its origin.
Consider that “Hispanic” persons are considered Caucasian by the United States, though they are categorized as a separate ethnic group. Can you make sense of that?
Just remember folks, we are all one.