Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2010 Census Race Questions

About a week or so after we received our letter from the U.S. Census Bureau warning us that we were going to get our census forms, we got it. Thanks for the warning and for wasting all of that money our government doesn't have to send something saying that you were going to send me something.

Although, everyone is only required by law to write in the number of people living in their dwelling, we thought it would be fun to fill it out for all 6 of us. For Benaiah, we proudly checked the box indicating that he was our adopted son. Then, we got down to race...

Race. What is race? I checked Merriam-Webster and Wikipedia trying to make sense of the census form.

The first question having to do with race asked if one was of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin, and if so, from where did his or her heritage originate. At the time, it seemed reasonable that the census bureau wanted to collect some extra information about Hispanics/Latino/Spanish folks for whatever reason. Strange, just the same that that people group was singled out from the rest of the races.

Here are the choices from the 2010 U.S. Census for everyone else:

  • white
  • black, African Am., negro
  • American Indian or Alaska Native (has space for principal tribe)
  • Asian Indian
  • Chinese
  • Filipino
  • Other Asian -Print race, for example, Hmong, Laotian, Thai, Pakistani, Cambodian, and so on.
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Vietnamese
  • Native Hawaiian
  • Guamanian or Chamorro
  • Samoan
  • Other Pacific Islander -Print race, for example, Fijian, Tongan, and so on.
  • Some other race -Print race.
Where do I begin? Notice that the U.S. Census Bureau is interested more in nationalities of people if you are Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or from the South Pacific, but if we have WHITE or BLACK skin, we are all the same as all the other people who have the same skin color. Seriously?

It appears that the census bureau thinks that if you are of African decent, you are "black, African Am., or negro." First, I have always thought that the term "African American" specifically refers to an American-born person who is of brown-skinned African descent. (Merriam-Webster agrees.) NEGRO? Really? "Black" and then, "African American" have replaced that term in the years since the civil rights movement!

According to the U.S. Census Bureau:

Black or African American. A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as "Black, African Am., or Negro," or provide written entries such as African American, Afro American, Kenyan, Nigerian, or Haitian. (http:/
So, how did we answer the question of Benaiah's race? We checked "Other" and printed "Ethiopian" knowing that they will lump him in the "black, African Am., negro" category, and I'm fine with that. We are proud of his ethnicity, race, nationality, and whatever!

The problem that I have is that some races are so sub-divided into different people groups based on nationality, and others are just all lumped together. Just lump us all together into the 4-5 groups that are needed and used for funding and dividing out representatives. Collecting information that reflects our actual heritage would be interesting if it were for ALL races, but not really necessary for anything.

Needless to say, I was totally weirded-out by this stupid form, and it has hurt my little Pooh brain thinking about it!

Be proud of whatever you have been labeled! God loves us all!


Anne Devlin said...

I get you Susan - I really wanted to write "human" in for race but instead I wrote Guatemalan (Mayan) for Ben and Chinese(Hakka) for Lily. Though for her it is really just an educated guess since most of the people in her town are Hakka - but who knows if she was brought there from someplace else... They should ask someone from Africa if they should all be lumped in together - so much diversity there, it's hard to imagine lumping all 1 billion people in Africa in under one "race".

Apryl said...

We were totally weirded out by the form too. Seth (the anti-government gov't employee that he is) wanted to throw it in the trash just because, but he enjoys fact finding and thus...enjoys the census information. So we checked the boxes, even though neither of us felt like it should matter whether our kids are bio or adopted or what country they are from. You did quite a bit more searching than we did :)

Amber said...

i also checked other and wrote in ethiopian. stupid form.

Carpenters said...

We had the same question when we filled out the form. Gabe finally just checked the boxes, wrote in Ethiopia and we sent it in.