View Poll Results: When does an ethnicity/ancestry become insignificant?

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  • It becomes insignificant at 1/4th ancestry or less

    8 9.20%
  • It becomes insignificant at 1/8th ancestry or less

    23 26.44%
  • It becomes insignificant at 1/16th ancestry or less

    13 14.94%
  • It becomes insignificant at 1/32nd ancestry or less

    14 16.09%
  • No percentage every becomes insignificant

    16 18.39%
  • Other

    13 14.94%
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Thread: Significance of Ethnicity?

  1. #1
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    Significance of Ethnicity?

    Do you believe any percentage of an ethnicity becomes "insignificant" at a certain point, compared to the rest of the person's overall ancestry? Or should people "honor" all aspects of their ancestry?

    For me, I would say 1/16th to even 1/32nd of non-European ancestry would not yet constitute it as insignificant, especially if it were African/black admixture. As far as Europeans, I believe usually around 1/16 is where it usually becomes insignificant, or at least virtually unimportant when compared to the predominating ethnicity(-ies).

    As some might know already () I'm 1/8th Italian, and while I don't consider it an *insignificant* amount, or irrelevant enough not to mention when someone asks about my entire heritage, I don't think it's part of my ancestry enough to alter any labeling or placement of myself as Germanic.

    If someone wants to honor a 1/8th, 1/16th, 1/32nd fraction of their ancestry, well that's their choice, I don't see anything wrong with that per se, but at the same time you can only do that to an extent. Generally what happens in these cases is that it just turns into a name game. People name off their ancestry because a few grandparents back someone came from a particular country, and I do find it a little insulting toward the ethnicity they're throwing out. If you're actually trying to get to know about each culture of your heritage, and learn the language(s), that's one thing, but to claim to be a part of a group when you don't practice the language, culture, and have minimal blood from it, it just seems silly to me. It's also a bit pretentious for someone who isn't or doesn't consider themselves to be a part of a major or predominating ethnicity to expect others to have to equate their lesser (percentage wise) ancestry to that of what is major, just because they have an identity with many.

    So, to restate, at what point, if any, do you think a particular ethnicity becomes insignificant or irrelevant when compared to the rest? Obviously I think context and circumstance comes into play, so you can elaborate if needed.

    For the sake of a less confusing poll and discussion, I'm only including European ancestry/ethnicity in it (I think a similar post was already made about non-European admixture).

    Btw, if you're going to try to be a flamer in this post, stay out, this thread is meant for serious opinions and discussion.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Psychonaut's Avatar
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    I don't know if I could pick out at exactly what degree of distance it becomes insignificant, but it most certainly can. I'm thinking of my own genealogy, which is overwhelmingly French, but back in 1024 I have a Russ ancestor. While this is interesting from an historical perspective, I feel that it would be obscene for me to identify in any way shape or form as a Russ or even to bring it up when discussing what my ethnicity is. One drop rules are ridiculous and I can only wonder how far back in their own genealogies adherents to that type of thought have really looked.
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    Senior Member Jute's Avatar
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    I am unsure what is being asked; genetically no one should "ignore" as "irrelevant" a source of their ancestry even as little as 1/32.

    But: Ethnicity is not (strictly) Ancestry, as Pscynoaut eloquently wrote in here: Post #91 of the "Ethnicity Unknown" thread. Depending on the person's circumstances, a person can certainly "ignore" a large amount of ancestry when identifying as an ethnicity. Say there is a German-speaker from Alsace,France with one Francophone grandparent, but was raised Protestant, only spoke German ever at home, and always thought himself a German: That person can basically ignore the French one-quarter for his "Ethnicity" identification [He can call himself an ethnicGerman, not French-German or something], while still acknowledging the ancestry. It has more to do with what you feel than what your blood actually is. (This last sentence is a dangerous ground to tread, and can easily be carried too far, though ).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jute View Post
    I am unsure what is being asked; genetically no one should "ignore" as "irrelevant" a source of their ancestry even as little as 1/32.

    But: Ethnicity is not (strictly) Ancestry, as Pscynoaut eloquently wrote in here: Post #91 of the "Ethnicity Unknown" thread. Depending on the person's circumstances, a person can certainly "ignore" a large amount of ancestry when identifying as an ethnicity. Say there is a German-speaker from Alsace,France with one Francophone grandparent, but was raised Protestant, only spoke German ever at home, and always thought himself a German: That person can basically ignore the French one-quarter for his "Ethnicity" identification [He can call himself an ethnicGerman, not French-German or something], while still acknowledging the ancestry. It has more to do with what you feel than what your blood actually is. (This last sentence is a dangerous ground to tread, and can easily be carried too far, though ).
    I basically agree with what Psychonaut was saying, but it's easy to use those words interchangeably just out of habit because they can be very similar (I might have), but I do agree with the distinction for the most part.

  5. #5
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    I'd say anything more than 1/4 is not worth bothering with.


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    Not quite sure what you mean by 'insignificant'. Genetically? Culturally? I think they constitute two different responses:

    Genetically - I tend towards the common measure of pedigree in certain animals whereby 1/16 or more impurity is deemed insignificant. Supposedly on my Dutch side there was a Spaniard going back a few generations but it certainly manifests less than 1/16 - probably less than 1/32, so I've never considered it important.

    Culturally - It's immeasurable and open to choice.

    The two can't be separated obviously, so it depends on which of the two you feel best signifies ethnicity (within reason - you can't choose to be Germanic with an African Grandparent for example). 1/8 Non-Germanic (and perhaps even as much as 1/4), but-still-European ancestry does not detract from your Germanicness if you are fully invested in Germanic culture.

    This is a difficult topic for me to respond to because I do not believe the British Isles are wholly Germanic. We have a significant Pre-Germanic/Celtic influence, culturally and genetically here so the question is somewhat irrelevant in some ways to me and other English/Scottish/Welsh/Irish members.
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    I just had to get this out.

    From Sword of the Vistulas' Link:"Every St. Patrick's Day, it's the same thing," said Kroeger over a "correct" room-temperature Guinness at Noonan's, a Kenosha bar he praised as authentically Irish. "Everyone puts on green hats and spray-painted carnations and wears 'Kiss Me, I'm Irish' pins and gets drunk and makes fools of themselves. That's not what being Irish is about. That's an exaggerated, stereotyped version of our culture."
    And the guy thinks he knows the Irish?

    Anyway, to the point at hand.

    If it is present in your lineage, I think you can identify with whatever ethnicity you wish.
    Last edited by BeornWulfWer; Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 at 12:34 PM. Reason: .
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    I don't have a lot of time, so I will keep this briefer than brief.....

    As others have already said, ethnicity is different than ancestry and also it depends on what context. In speaking of ancestry, genetically, I don't believe that any amount is insignificance, as the the genetic material may still be present even if it is not displayed in your phenotype. It only takes mating with the right person to have a child who seems to "come form the milk man." Culturally, your ethnicity is, in part, what you identify as. This is one reason why I do not have a problem with hyphenated Americanism. If we all just say "American" then it means very little. Some may identify as simply "American", while others may identify as "blank-American" because their family has kept alive and passed down other cultural traditions. This doesn't mean that someone who is "blank-American" as their ethnicity doesn't also have other influences in their ancestry.

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    Senior Member Mrs. Lyfing's Avatar
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    I have a dumb question.

    When filling out the part of Ethnicity, I put American. It seems it is more than that so what should I put? Is it based on how you are classified? Someone explain to me in simple terms, please. I am not as familiar to this particular subject as the rest of you.


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    Quote Originally Posted by mischak View Post
    Do you believe any percentage of an ethnicity becomes "insignificant" at a certain point, compared to the rest of the person's overall ancestry?
    No.
    Quote Originally Posted by mischak View Post
    As some might know already () I'm 1/8th Italian, and while I don't consider it an *insignificant* amount, or irrelevant enough not to mention when someone asks about my entire heritage, I don't think it's part of my ancestry enough to alter any labeling or placement of myself as Germanic.
    You aren't Germanic. What good is there in deluding yourself?

    Quote Originally Posted by mischak View Post
    ...I do find it a little insulting toward the ethnicity they're throwing out. If you're actually trying to get to know about each culture of your heritage, and learn the language(s), that's one thing, but to claim to be a part of a group when you don't practice the language, culture, and have minimal blood from it, it just seems silly to me. It's also a bit pretentious for someone who isn't or doesn't consider themselves to be a part of a major or predominating ethnicity to expect others to have to equate their lesser (percentage wise) ancestry to that of what is major, just because they have an identity with many.
    There is no reason not to be proud of your ancestry. The idea that you should "disregard" or deem "irrelevant" any part of your ancestry, I agree, is insulting.

    I am mixed, but I am proud. I don't see any need for complicated and subjective justifications for why I should be proud. I wish others felt the same way.
    Quote Originally Posted by mischak View Post
    So, to restate, at what point, if any, do you think a particular ethnicity becomes insignificant or irrelevant when compared to the rest?
    Disregarding ancestry of any degree is dangerous. It is inextricably tied to this game of self-justification.

    "I am ¼ X. My ancestry is acceptable. Therefore being ¼ X is acceptable."

    Where do we draw the line? Why should we have to draw any line? I say wear your ancestry as a badge of honor. There is no shame in loving who you are.






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