Enough trying to find the perfect point in which (on which?) to reenter the swift yet stagnant river of the race conversation. Let me just jump in.
- Louisiana Governor-elect Piyush Jindal, "Bobby" to himself and anyone who chooses to see him as such, is not white, but he is Caucasian. See a summary of U.S. v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) if you don't believe me.
<Bobby Jindal and a supporter.Photo speaks for itself, but what does it say?
Jindal, of course, sidesteps the problematic matter of whether many of the people native to the subcontinent of India, as well as modern day Iran, Pakistan and the other 'Stans', deemed Caucasian by 19th century racial science, should have a claim to being white in America. Jindal, a Republican, reportedly says race doesn't matter.
It is, however, a matter of some dispute on at least one Asian-American site.
My favorite quotes:
Indians are more successful than any community in US, we don't give a jack about [race-based, affirmative-action] concessions....unfortunately indians look down up asians just as they look down upon black. So, there is no way indians would associate with asians, atleast for now... Do u really think an indian gives a damn what a black or asian is thinking of them. Who the hell cares!
The ranter is right; unless your racial category is a substantial impediment to your aspirations, or the impact of racial category offends you, why the hell would you care?
Jindal may not be white, but his decisive election in a state like Louisiana proves that being Caucasian counts for something. If nothing else, it counts for not being black, which is still the biggest deal, especially in the Deep South. Dixie needs every well-trained brain that isn't committed to leveling the black-white playing field it can get its hands on. That's Jindal today, and the children of the low-wage Mexicans, who flooded in to rebuild after Katrina, tomorrow. They are slowly but surely being accorded the privilege of being defined by ethnicity, not by race. A privilege America has always, albeit grudgingly, been willing to extend to all comers —except African Americans.
All this leaves me in that part of the river where demands for racial authenticity, political correctness and a great deal of denial on ALL sides merge in a turbid whirlpool that, well...sucks...us downward and away from the light of the truth of our common humanity. We can't get there by denying what race has meant for hundreds of years up to yesterday. And we can't get there be letting it continue to have meaning, indefinitely, either.
The Bottom Line:
Good for Jindal, the Republicans and (proabably a silent majority of) Indian-Americans who care more about pride in their ethnicity than where they fit in on America's screwed up racial charts.
Stupid for anyone, especially the news media, attaching racial progress significance to this event. So many headlines about "First Non-White Governor Since Reconstruction," and so little thought to the fact that "since Reconstruction" means "since African-Americans were able to freely exercise their right under the Constitution to hold power."
Bad for anyone hoping for a turnaround of Louisiana's sordid traditions of racial injustice against African-Americans, as lately exemplified by the prosecution and ongoing persecution of the Jena Six. In the amazing politics of race, the Louisiana status quo can't be held as racist, because they just elected a "non-white" governor. The problem can't be with the system; it must be with the Jena Six and their supporters.
And bad for a real discussion of racial reconciliation.
'Cause, like the man said, even if race mattered to him, this wasn't about race.