QUOTE=omgstopit;2146805] [...] when I said yes, he asked me what ethnic group I belong to, then what ethnicity I think I am, and I'm like "that's not the same thing?" Apparently not.[/QUOTE]
Even today, people still want to know where others "land" on the race continuum ("What are you?"), and sometimes they ask to squeeze that person into his or her proper "caste", including on “official” questionnaires, (though some are legit, i.e.: medical). Which now makes me rethink my stance about answering all those “What are you?” questions so often
But those questions you were asked IMO could also speak to certain Americans' difficulty stating the naked facts
of their ethnic background, to the best of their knowledge, or based on a DNA test, versus their social or psychologically internalized identity.
Sometimes obscuring racial facts are part of trying to break from a perceived “caste” (just checking “white” on a form when you're about 50/50% biracial.) Or sometimes it's to unwittingly support the caste system (marking “black” on a form, when you're biracial and have been pressured into obeying the infamous “One Drop Rule”). But sometimes it's just that a person honestly relates more to one “side” of her ethnic heritage than with the other/s. Still, it's just my opinion that when such a person "claims" only one of those equally prominent parts of her heritage, that's a choice which is identity only, not true to ethnic fact. If a person is generally multi-ethnic, then s/he is generally multi-ethnic, even if she identifies as mono-racial. Purple can call itself “just blue” as much as it wants, but it's still more or less equal parts red and blue.