by David P. Bell on Jun 13, 2018 Uncategorized
Elsewhere, the document has more diverse purposes. In Sudan, a birth certificate has to be presented before a child can enroll in school. In the United States, birth certificates are required to register with Native American tribes. In Sri Lanka, a birth certificate makes it possible to respect a minimum age of criminal responsibility; without it, police may informally estimate (and possibly exaggerate) children's ages. In the United Kingdom, birth certificates help establish eligibility to join the armed forces.
Morris tells me, "I always assumed that she was lumped in with white in Alabama, versus black, because those were the only recognized races back then in the Deep South." Her experience exposes the gaps between bureaucratic permissibility and the complexity of racial identity. Those gaps haven't fully closed since Morris's childhood either: Some U.S. states still don't allow multiracial children to be marked as such on their birth certificates.