Arabs, Hispanics seeking better US Census recognition

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2013-12-18 14:14Z by Steven

Arabs, Hispanics seeking better US Census recognition

Aljazeera America

Haya El Nasser, Los Angeles Digital Reporter

 Many community organizations hope for a new Middle East and North Africa category in the next Census.

When Hassan Jaber, a Lebanese-American, fills out his Census questionnaire, the race question gives him pause. White? No. Black? No. Asian? American Indian? Native Hawaiian? No, no, no.

So he checks off the only other option: “some other race.”

“The categories really don’t represent us,” said Jaber, executive director of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) in Dearborn, Mich. “Even putting it under ‘other’ makes the reliability of the information very questionable.”

But all this could soon change.

In the face of an increasingly multiracial and multiethnic population that no longer fits neatly into traditional classifications set by the government, the Census Bureau has been testing major changes in how it asks people to identify their race and ethnicity.

Hispanic, an ethnicity, not a race, may soon be lumped into a broader “race and origin” category, effectively treating it as a race for the first time.

The line between race and ethnicity has become artificial, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and the author of an upcoming book on the nation’s diversity. “What’s the definition of race? It’s not nationality. It’s not skin color, necessarily,” he said. “It’s sort of a mishmash.”

Last summer, the Arab American Institute sent a letter signed by 30 advocacy groups asking the Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which sets race standards, to create a MENA (Middle East and North Africa) category.

Nicholas Jones, chief of the Census racial-statistics branch, calls the letter “historic.”

Several populations are clamoring for their own categories, but, Jones said, “it’s the only group we’ve received a letter from requesting a separate ethnicity box.”…

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Multiracial no longer boxed in by the Census

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2010-03-04 02:37Z by Steven

Multiracial no longer boxed in by the Census

USA Today

Haya El Nasser

Jennifer Harvey was raised by her white mother and white stepfather in what she calls “a Caucasian world.” Harvey never met her father but she knew he was black and Cuban. That made her Hispanic, white and black.

“Blacks think I’m black,” she says. “Hispanics think I’m Hispanic. Honestly, I don’t identify with either bucket wholeheartedly — Caucasian, black or Hispanic.”…

…When Barack Obama was elected the nation’s first black president in 2008, some academics and political analysts suggested the watershed event could represent the dawning of a post-racial era in a land that has struggled over race relations for four centuries.

At the same time, growing ethnic and racial diversity fueled by record immigration and rates of interracial marriages have made the USA’s demographics far more complex. By 2050, there will be no racial or ethnic majority as the share of non-Hispanic whites slips below 50%, according to Census projections.

“It’s showing that tomorrow’s children and their children will in fact be multiracial, leading to a potential post-racial society,” says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution.

“The issue isn’t just multirace,” says Census historian Margo Anderson, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “It’s the blurring of the very traditional black vs. white. Categories that held until about 1980 are shifting in large numbers. … The clarity is breaking down.”…

…Why does the government ask about race and ethnicity?

Federal agencies need the information to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination laws such as the Voting Right Act and the Civil Rights Act, fair employment practices and affirmative action mandates…

…”For some, the multirace response option represented an opportunity to acknowledge both parents,” says Roderick Harrison, a demographer at Howard University and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington. “But for a lot of others, it’s like, ‘OK, are you going to turn your back on the rest of us?’ … A lot of the racial and ethnic politics of the Census are that we want the biggest numbers possible for our groups.”..

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