The sun was hot and the sky a bright Mediterranean blue, but when I reached the US Citizenship and Immigration Services building it was grey and flat, and seemed to absorb the metallic light.
Behind the counter an older Asian woman filled in a form for my ‘biometrics appointment’, she glanced at me and circled ‘Asian’ as my ethnicity. Officials usually choose ‘white’ while I choose, or write in, ‘mixed’. I imagined the scenario – my application delayed because my ethnicity suddenly changed half way through the process. San Francisco is truly a town of transformation, you can change your gender, your sexuality and even your football team, but your ethnicity? I don’t think so.
I ask her to circle ‘white’. She did so and erased ‘Asian’. I explained I’d like both categories and she said ‘No, you have to choose one’… ain’t that the truth! I smiled and asked, ‘what would you do if Barack came in?’ gesturing towards the President’s photograph on the wall behind her. She remained unsmiling and I remembered the ‘birthers’ thinking maybe it wasn’t such a good question after all.–Clare