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Country of No Ethnicity

Posted March. 12, 2010 09:45,   


A gamut of views is circulating on why golf icon Tiger Woods had affairs exclusively with white women. The argument that he did so due to a sense of inferiority stemming from his dark skin color sounds compelling. Woods grew up amid discrimination as the only African American in a town of white people, and he has never really embraced his black heritage. He calls himself Cablinasian, or a combination of Caucasian, black, Native American and Asian. Woods is mixture of four ethnicities.

Actor Vin Diesel, who starred in the movie “Fast and Furious,” is highly popular in the U.S. He has a unique yet charming appearance as a mixed-blood person of Irish, Italian, German and Dominican Republic heritage. With the number of mixed-blood people whose ethnicities are hard to differentiate growing in the U.S., the country is embracing an era of non-ethnicity in which the racial divide is blurred. According to the daily USA Today, the portion of ethnic minorities among newborns in the U.S. increased from 37 percent in 1990 to 48 percent in 2008. If this trend continues, the population of ethnic minorities will exceed that of whites in 2050.

The “one-drop rule” is a time-honored U.S. tradition. This refers to the practice of classifying a person as black if he or she has even a hint of African heritage. Under this rule, Barack Obama is the first black U.S. president though he was born to and raised by a white mother. As interracial marriages have surged in number, the U.S. has changed the items on its census. The number of ethnic categories created in 2000 by the U.S. Census Bureau is 63, excluding the category “others.”

Witnessing a change in society where ethnic minorities become the majority, whites as the traditional mainstream group of America could feel uneasy. Yet they believe the trend will eventually have a positive impact on their society. As the term “melting pot” suggests, diversity is the main pillar of American society. This has a strong implication for Korea, which is rapidly shifting into a multicultural society due to the growing number of foreign women married to Korean men, North Korean defectors, and migrant workers. The term “pure blood people” can no longer remain a cause of national pride. Korea must learn from the U.S. experience on how to use the growing number of mixed-blood people to advance national development.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)