Why More Races Could Appear on the 2020 Census

Why More Races Could Appear on the 2020 Census


Justine Gonzalez

The U.S. Census is re-evaluating how they measure race for the 2020 Census. Our country is rapidly diversifying, both culturally and racially, which makes the Census’ job that much more critical and complicated. As the 2010 Census has shown, Latinos, who often have difficulty assigning themselves a particular “race,” have replaced African Americans as the nation’s largest minority group, with 50 million in 2010 (challenging the appropriateness of the use of the term “minority”).

The U.S. Census currently officially recognizes five racial categories: white, black or African-American, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native and Pacific Islander. Census data is used for a variety of purposes such as determining the makeup of voting districts, monitoring discriminatory practices in hiring, and racial disparities in education and health. The data also informs and validates the work of many community-based organizations, and allows researchers to analyze and assess the social, health and economic status of specific population groups.

Race has always been difficult to understand and many disagree on the actual benefits of assigning/ defining race as we do. The concept of race in the United States is heavily influenced by the end of slavery, segregation, waves of immigration from all over the world, and intermarriage. Our current racial categories do not recognize currently growing racial and ethnic diversity, nor do they acknowledge the current immigration trends and how they may change over time…

…The term “Latino” (or “Hispanic”) is a contested term that attempts to broadly unite a group of people who are different culturally and racially but united by (perhaps) a language, though sometimes not even that. In the 2010 Census, this problem of grouping can be seen in that the “some other race” category ranked as the third-largest racial category, and NPR claims that 97% of those respondents were of Hispanic descent.

Another trend among darker-skinned Latinos and Afro-Latinos is to check “Black” as Race along with checking “Latino.” I have always done this—on college applications, the Census and other official documents—yet it does not fully capture the complexity of my racial composition. As a Puerto Rican, born and raised in New York City (aka a Nuyorican), checking ‘Black’ is an homage to my African roots—and for others, a recognition of my dark skin. In America, the definition of white still very much implies white purity. Just one ounce of “black blood” defines someone as black. Nonetheless, on a personal level, I do not see my race as ‘Black’; that is just how society would define me. My race is inextricably connected to my ethnicity in a way that no combination of box-checking can accurately describe…

Read the entire article here.

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