I often hear people referring to themselves of being a certain ethnicity. I recently had a mammogram and was asked my ethnicity.
Nance: Um, white?
Nice woman taking information: No, what is your ETH-NEH-CITY?
NWTI: No, where your family is from?
Nance: Um, America? We’ve been in this country since the mid-1880s
NWTI: (obviously getting frustrated) Well, where did they come from?
Nance: Let’s see, Germany before the civil war, England, but we aren’t sure when, we think in the 1700s, and my one grandfather is a bastard, so we don’t know his heritage, although we strongly suspect French-Canadian.
NWTI: I’ll put down German.
You see? This isn’t easy. Seriously, both of my grandmothers came from German families. The one side was easy to trace back to the civil war and that person even decided to fight with the Union. My one grandfather was British. We really aren’t sure when his family came over. There are hints that it was in the 1700s, but we aren’t sure because so much of the German sides are covered and not so much on the others. And then there is Grandpa.
Grandpa was born to a single mother. She signed a name down for the father, but her mother was certain that she had never slept with him. Based on Grandpa’s looks, she was pretty sure who the father was. His mother left the hospital after giving birth, without him. Her mother and sister later collected him from the hospital. His aunt and uncle raised him for many years with brief periods when his own mother would show up, take him to live with her for a while and then drop him back with her sister.
He turned out to be a great guy. I am sure this was his Aunt’s influence.
So you see, it is not easy to answer when someone asks: "what’s your ethnicity?"