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Thread: Census may change race, ethnicity terms

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Census may change race, ethnicity terms

    Census may change race, ethnicity terms

    New designation for Hispanics draws most public scrutiny; other changes proposed

    Written by
    Elizabeth Aguilera
    12:01 a.m., Sept. 29, 2012

    In an effort to better reflect social, cultural and economic trends on its decennial survey of residents, the U.S. Census Bureau is exploring whether to drop the word “Negro,” add ways for Middle Easterners to reflect their countries of origin and combine the race and ethnicity categories so “Hispanic” can become a stand-alone option.

    Among the proposed revisions, the potentially new Hispanic designation is receiving the most public scrutiny. Latino advocates worry that counts of Hispanic Americans might drop, while demographers and other researchers welcome the possible change.

    “We tend to identify ourselves by how society responds to us,” said John Weeks, a demographer at San Diego State University. “I think allowing people in one question to give all their options is what we want. It’s the best possible approach.”

    In past census counts, including the one in 2010, respondents were first asked whether or not they were Hispanic, Latino or of Spanish origin. Then they were asked to select a race, such as white, black, Asian or two or more races.

    Nearly every person who self-identified as Hispanic went on to choose the white or some-other-race option because they didn’t know where they fit in racially, Weeks said.

    Most Americans, he added, view race and ethnicity as the same thing despite legal and anthropological distinctions.

    Race and ethnicity changes on the survey could have significant repercussions. Nonprofit groups, government agencies and educational institutions use decennial census information to seek or grant more than $400 billion in aid. The numbers are also used to create or maintain political districts.

    Revising race and ethnicity designations could benefit or hurt a group, but a clearer tally for Hispanics would be an improvement overall, said Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez, who runs the National Latino Research Center at Cal State San Marcos.

    “Yes, it could undermine the count. However, it could also increase the count by making it simpler for individuals who consider themselves of Hispanic/Latino heritage to easily say so rather than go through a personal analysis of where they came from, how ‘brown’ or ‘white’ they might be,” she said. “Latinos/Hispanics who consider themselves white can continue to do so. In the past, many millions of people identified as white because it was a default category for them or the ‘best’ answer given the options they had.”

    2010 Census: Racial and ethnic makeup
    (populations in millions) Nation California San Diego County
    Population Percent Percent Population Percent
    Non-Hispanic white 223.6 72.40% 21.5 57.60% 1,981,442 64%
    Hispanic 50.5 16.30% 14 37.60% 991,348 32%
    Black or African-American 38.9 12.60% 2.3 6.20% 158,213 5.10%
    Asian 14.7 4.80% 4.9 13.00% 336,091 10.90%
    American Indian or Alaska Native 2.9 0.90% 0.4 1.00% 26,340 0.90%
    Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0.5 0.20% 0.1 0.40% 15,337 0.50%
    Some other race 19.1 6.20% 6.3 17.00% 419,465 13.60%
    Two or more races 9 2.90% 1.8 4.90% 158,425 5.10%
    Total 308.7 million 37.3 million 3,095,313
    Note: Percentages don’t add up to 100 because Hispanics, who are considered an ethnic group, also choose a racial category.

    Beth Jarosz, demographer for the San Diego Association of Governments, said the proposed changes would more accurately reflect current cultural thinking — where the word “Hispanic” increasingly stands on its own, without need for further elaboration of race.

    SANDAG provides numerous analyses of race and ethnicity data for the county that are based on census statistics.

    Census Bureau officials do not expect a dramatic shift in results if the survey form changes, said Nicholas Jones, chief of the racial statistics branch at the Census Bureau. He said the outcome of an experimental census study conducted in 2010 — which had some changes to race and ethnicity labels — was similar to that of the traditional form.

    Elizabeth Aguilera

    12:01 a.m., Sept. 29, 2012

    In the 2010 pilot project, the agency sent modified forms to 500,000 households to test various ways of asking about race and ethnicity.

    “America grows more and more diverse with each passing decade,” said former census director Robert Grove, who oversaw the release of that study’s data a few weeks ago. “How we understand, collect and tabulate this information must be continuously open to change.”

    The 2010 experiment showed that the traditional decennial census form was not inclusive enough for groups such as Middle Easterners, Grove said.

    On the decennial form used in 2010, Hispanics who chose a race overwhelmingly picked white. In addition, about 18 million Hispanics marked “some other race” in the race category.

    The term Hispanic was added to census forms in 1970. Before then, Americans of Hispanic heritage usually identified themselves as white.

    The new option would enable people to more effectively comprehend future census forms, said Nuñez-Alvarez at Cal State San Marcos.

    Before the 2010 census, her center held informational sessions in North County to encourage people to participate in the survey. She said that by far, the No. 1 question from Latinos was what to do with the race question after they had selected Hispanic for their ethnicity.

    “I’m in favor of really clarifying” the categories, Nuñez-Alvarez said. “To some extent, refining those (options) for data analysis and for tracking could become more transparent.”

    Any changes to the next decennial census form must be approved by Congress and the federal Office of Management and Budget, which sets the definitions of race and ethnicity.

    How the census has counted race and ethnicity

    1790-1840: Options were white, white foreign born, slave, colored person and free colored person.
    1850-1870, 1890, 1910, 1920: Options included white and black. Enumerators were instructed to identify mulattoes (of mixed race) in the black population.
    1860: Along with white and black, the options included taxed American Indians (not those living in tribal societies) and Chinese in California only (because the census was being used in the West for the first time).
    1880: Chinese category was expanded across the United States.
    1890: Census began counting all American Indians, regardless of where they lived. It also added Japanese and Indian as options.
    1900: Choices were white, black, Chinese, Japanese and American Indian.
    1910: Asian and Pacific Islander categories joined Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hindu and Korean as options. Also added was the “other” category.
    1930: For the first (and only) time, there was a separate census category for Mexicans — both Mexican natives and non-natives whose parents were born in Mexico.
    1940: The Mexican category was eliminated and numbers from the 1930 census were revised to move Mexicans into the white group. This was the first time the census included tabulations on Spanish mother tongue; in the past, the only mother tongues tabulated were of the foreign white stock.
    1950: Census workers tried to identify the mixed heritage of American Indians, blacks and whites in certain communities. The Asian options were Chinese, Japanese and Filipino. Other Asians and those of mixed heritage were classified as “other race.”
    1970: First time the census asked people if they are Hispanic. Three distinctions were made — Spanish language population, Spanish heritage population and self-identification of Spanish origin or descent.
    1970, 1980: Tally for the “other race” option rose after the Hispanic category was added to the census questionnaire. Demographers said some Hispanics might not identify themselves as white.
    1980, 1990: All states used one standard set of racial and ethnic categories for census reporting.
    2000: Census added Latino along with Hispanic as a self-identifier.
    Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; U-T research

    Census may change race, ethnicity terms |

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  2. #2
    Senior Member ReggieMay's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Sounds like a way to increase the number of Hispanics that appear in the census, thus increasing their power over the rest of those counted.
    Newmexican and working4change like this.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member agrneydgrl's Avatar
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    Why are caucasians referred to as non hispanic white?

  4. #4
    Senior Member 4thHorseman's Avatar
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    [QUOTEWhy are caucasians referred to as non hispanic white? ][/QUOTE]

    Because the whole race/ethnicity issue is based on bias and racism. The government tries to categorize and then collect data based on these artificial discriminators in order to promote agendas that pander to the vested interest in each. This, of course, is to obtain the political support and ideally the votes of the special interest group being pandered to. If we were truly dedicated to ending racism and ethnic bias we would not classify people in the first place. Ironically, the very groups who stringently and vociferously object to "Being Judgmental " are the very ones promoting the worst kind of judgmentalism. Most of us in this country are Heinz 57 anyway. I have more Native American blood in me than Elizabeth Warren, but I am not classified as such, nor should I be. When the "Race" block shows up on any government form, the appropriate entry should be limited to "Human" (I am making a strong assumption, i.e., judgement,, that "Human applies to most applicants. I could be wrong.)
    "We have met the enemy, and they is us." - POGO

  5. #5
    Senior Member HAPPY2BME's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by ReggieMay View Post
    Sounds like a way to increase the number of Hispanics that appear in the census, thus increasing their power over the rest of those counted.

    The one question the New World Order will never allow on a United States Census form:

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