2010 Census: Think Twice, Check Once

2010 Census: Think Twice, Check Once

The Huffington Post

Michele Elam, Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of English and Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate
Stanford University

The federal government is taking a road trip, dubbed the 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour, to try to convince “hard-to-count audiences” to participate in this year’s dicennial Census. One of those particularly hard-to-count groups are those who identify as racially mixed. Many will choose to take advantage of the “mark one or more races” (MOOM) option made first available on the 2000 Census. Race scholars have been hotly debating the significance of this paradigm shift, asking: just what are the Civil Rights consequences of the Census option of “mark one or more races”?

Demonized in the early twentieth century as sexually polluting and culturally degenerate, mixed race people are now all the rage. The New York Times hails them as Generation E.A.: Ethnically Ambiguous and celebrates them as ambassadors to the post-race new world order. With Obama, our self-described “mutt” President, as its poster-child, the “the Mulatto Millennium” is finally upon us…

…Few could have anticipated the community impact of their box-checking. Federal guidelines have since sought to correct for these unexpected effects, but my point is that the government accounting of race through the Census is explicitly designed to inform public policy and the distribution of resources. This is not about ethnic squabbling over spoils.

It is a recognition that the Census was never meant as–nor should it be–a site for self-expression

Read the entire article here.

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