Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Census questions about race

I really hate it when I'm expected to indicate my race on a form. I usually leave it blank, mark "other" or write something like "none of your business."

Then there is the issue of adoption. Are they asking about my child's DNA or cultural affiliation? And to make matters worse, is race an issue of skin pigmentation, mother tongue, where your great grandparents were born, or the shape of your eyes?

I ran across this article which suggested writing "American" for race on the upcoming census form.

Instead, we should answer Question 9 by checking the last option — "Some other race" — and writing in "American." It's a truthful answer but at the same time is a way for ordinary citizens to express their rejection of unconstitutional racial classification schemes. In fact, "American" was the plurality ancestry selection for respondents to the 2000 census in four states and several hundred counties.

So remember: Question 9 — "Some other race" — "American". Pass it on.

I really like that idea. However, as a casual genealogist, I don't want to make it harder for my great-great grandchildren to get information about me.

I think I will follow this suggestion for Question 9 and indicate that our household is "American," but I will make sure I leave a well documented family tree for my children.

Hat tip: Instapundit


christinemm said...

My son was working on a Boy Scout merit badge last week. He was required to tell the ethnicity of the town residents. We used census data from 2000. The numbers added up to over 100%.

One category is "two or more races". Even by leaving that out the rest didn't add up to 100%.

I am miffed.

If a person is part black and part white are the black or are they two races?

This is very confusing.

christinemm said...

I should have said, if they are part black and part white are they "black" or "white" or "two races"?

In the past most would say if you are at least part black you are black.

Another confusing point, I'm told a number of Native American Indians in Connecticut tribes are partially African-American. The tribe considres them Native American if they are any part Native American and partake of the revenues from the casinos the tribe owns. I wonder if other people would like them to be labled black. Or do they put on the census they are two races?

Luke said...

It's very interesting to me whenever I think about it: I'm only a second generation American. My high school teachers who badgered me for being a white male probably had a longer claim to their citizenship than I did. ...just blows my mind.

But I do tend to put down "white" because I am, even though it means absolutely nothing. I mean, how useless is that information? I have white skin... so what? That won't help anyone figure out where my grandparents emigrated from.


Jess said...

My family history is just that...history. It's only interesting to me and my crew. I fail to see how "race" is relevant. To bad the census won't ask if we think race matters. I certainly don't think it does nor has anyone ever been able to get me a good reason why they think it matters.
Let history teach us, not bind us. I'll be sure to check the "other" box and write American...unless they've added a box for olive-drab. :-)


Sunnysideup said...

What an interesting census survey will definitely say "American" this year! T

Grizzly Mama said...

I am so mad that I filled the census form out with the race blocked checked that apparently belongs to us. It wasn't until after I had filled it out that I spoke with my husband and told him how highly annoyed I was with that question. He told me about the checking the 'other' box and writing American. I wish I had thought of that. I just blindly and obediently checked the block..