I don't really get it. Why is it considered that a black member is "unveiling" herself by stating her ethnicity? If I say "I'm white" nobody is going to say "Oh, honey, you unveiled yourself!"
Not meant to be offensive to you in particular, Sunshine, but it is a reflection of American society in general. The exception always has to be qualified when it is not obvious (ie, what someone looks like when not in face to face conversation over the internet). We white people tend to assume that others we talk to are also white. We could just chalk this up to one person gravitating to or assuming likeness in another, but I don't think that's the case.
I work in healthcare. I also worked in food service. These are two (in my opinion) highly racially integrated industries, and in both I work with/have worked with an amazing variety of ethnicites and backgrounds. I went from the little white girl who never talked to a black or mexican American in my life, let alone had intimate contact with any great number of immigrants, to just another face in the crowd. With greater exposure, one comes to realize that the "people are people" stereotype/saying is true... just because someone of another ethnicity may look physically different, in addition to embracing different mannerisms, clothing styles, and speech patterns/colloquialisms (as well as those negative stereotypes that have become reclaimed by certain ethnic groups as a certain identity, ie the use of "nigga" by black people, as well as the back of the bus thing [which, Alicat, I consider more a youthful behavior than anything else]) doesn't mean we are, at worst, unable to communicate, or, at best, essentially different in any way, shape, or form.
But back to the qualifying of exceptions- as a white person who works with many black people (among other groups) I notice a tendency that when a black person is describing someone to me, they will identify them as "a black guy/girl." This would be understandable if they assumed that as a white chick, I would automatically assume the person they were talking about is white until otherwise told. But I notice that they do the same thing when conversng with other black people- they aren't assuming any similarity of race, because they have learned that they have to identify the excpetionality even amongsts themselves.
I don't want to polarize this with all the "us and them" language, so I'll use another example. Healthcare people all know this little inside joke (I guess it's a joke) but it's an excellent example of my point:
A father rushes his injured son to the emergency room. Upon the boy being seen by the doctor, the doctor says "I can't treat this patient." Why?
The answer, of course, is that the doctor is the boy's mother. Not so obvious to me when my mother first told me this at a young age. There is often the need to identify "a woman doctor" or, to be fair to the guys, "a male nurse." Once again, the exception has to be identified before the listener considers the possibility- otherwise, we tend to jump to the conclusion that the person being spoken about is part of the status quo.
I think saying things like "Why do black poeple sit in back of the bus" is a sort of crass observational humor. Why? Yes, sure, it's ironic, but where does asking the question get us? Nowhere, unless we expand it into why does a sort of voluntary segregation still exist in American culture? Here's my question: who the hell cares where they sit? There are more pressing questions at hand, like why, when we fought a Revolutionary War as a country to get the right to run our own democratic society, doesn't every eligible American citizen vote?
Oh, just for the record, I've been called racial slurs as well, and sexist ones too. I doubt there's a person alive who hasn't been. It sucks. And racism is racism- there is no such thing as "reverse" racism. My experience has simply been that when you open yourself to people in general, these experiences can be minimized and mutual conversation can be engaged in.
Phew... so much for a quick read here... I guess I'm back to that paper I'm supposed to be writing.