Many residents of Maricopa answer online surveys, including queries about financial accounts, entertainment, groceries and travel plans. Why do people answer these surveys? Respondents are rewarded with hotel points, airline miles, gift cards and shopping discounts. These surveys ask for personal information such as age, gender, ZIP code and income level.
What bothers me is the inconsistency of the choices when asked about ethnic identity. As an example, I will contrast Oprah Winfrey and myself. She would check African-American while there is no choice of European American for me to select. If I check “white”, should not Oprah check “black”? Although white is usually a choice, rarely would you find black as a response. Should not the options for ethnicity be consistent? It must be noted that most citizens of India and Pakistan are Caucasian.
In Texas, I would be an Anglo, which connotes English ancestry since the Anglos were early settlers in what is now England. My ancestors came here from Central Europe and never lived in England.
We can see the same inconsistency in identifying the ethnicity of our politicians. President Obama was definitely African American, since his father was a black African and his mother was a white American. How about Kamala Harris? Since her mother, a scientist, immigrated from India and her father, a college professor, immigrated from Jamaica, African American would not be the correct identity.
Consider religious identity. There are Protestants who believe that Catholics are not Christians, and members of both faiths who hold that those in the LDS Church are not Christian. In Islam, Sunnis and Shia not only argue about who represents the true teachings of the Prophet, they continue to slaughter each other in the name of the true faith.
Jews are not exempt. A Jewish American who wishes to get the automatic Israeli citizenship as a Jew, will have difficulty if his or her conversion to Judaism was supervised by a Reform rabbi, which is not recognized by the politically powerful Orthodox rabbis in Israel.
I was trained as a mathematician and strongly desire consistency in classifications. Perhaps online surveys should ask respondents to fill in their ethnic identity rather than choose from a list. If presented with this method of identification, I would simply type in “American.”