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A note on ethnicity and race

March 20, 2012

The March 4 article “New police hires reflect community” was disturbing, because in it, the writer notes that 17 recruits were sworn in last year — 10 listed “as being of an ethnic background other than white.”

Continuing: “The most recent hires include six Armenian officers, one Latino and one Korean — representing the three largest ethnic minority groups in Glendale.”

Armenians are of the white race. That was proven in 1925 in Portland, Ore., when my grandfather, Tateos O. Cartozian, applied for U.S. citizenship. In the beginning, the naturalization examiner argued against my grandfather's application saying that he was “Asiatic” and therefore not white.

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The Armenian American community rallied to help my grandfather and reportedly raised some $100,000 as a legal defense fund. Also, a Harvard-educated attorney came on board to help the cause. Seventeen witnesses were called for the defense; whereas the U.S. called only one primary witness.

The case — “United States v. Cartozian” — was finally dismissed in July 1925, some two years after my grandfather's application, with the judge declaring that Armenians are of the white race.

The decision in favor of my grandfather became a “test case” so that no other Armenian would experience the same difficulty in their quest to be naturalized.

In the future I hope that this paper would correctly identify Armenians as of the white race.

Joan Cartozian Humphries

Pasadena

Editor’s note: It is the general practice of the Glendale News-Press to refer to someone’s ethnicity — when relevant — instead of race because it is a more accurate description. The story used as the basis of this letter, “New police hires reflect community,” did not use the term “race,” but this letter has been printed to note the difference between the terms “race” and “ethnicity.”

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