04 February, 2005


I went for jury duty today, which was rather uneventful (I got to read "Slaughterhouse Five" some), but did lead me to observe that my jury pool was overwhelmingly white. There were about a hundred-odd people in the room, maybe more, and only a handful of them were "of color" - maybe two black people, one asian guy (me) and this or that. Since the Edward J. Sullivan courthouse draws its pool from Cambridge, I imagine it ought to reflect the racial makeup of Cambridge, which is, roughly, 68% white, 12% black and 12% asian*. The fact that it doesn't suggests something funky. Of course, statistical error is possible, but my hunch was confirmed a little later when they made us answer a questionnaire which had only two questions: "What is your race?" (with the same stupid categorization), and "Do you consider yourself Hispanic or Latino?"

*I'll take this moment to complain about racial groups, which are especially silly for Asians, since it puts Gujaratis and Han Chinese into the same "group". Of course, considering that the African population as a whole has more genetic variation than the rest of the world combined, "Black" as a group is probably even sillier. Even "Afrocentrism" is sort of annoying that way - can you imagine trying to cultivate some agglomerated "Asian" or "European" identity?

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