|PLAYING THE RACE CARD|
Should we have a "multi-racial" category on the census?
July 29, 1997
Other questions asked in this forum:
How will the Census Bureau use this information productively? Why is there an "Hispanic" category on the census form? Instead of using "other," could we use "American" as a category? Isn't it more important to categorize people by how they are perceived by society, not by how they think of themselves? Shouldn't we classify ourselves by ethnicity or cultural background instead? Are mixed racial people turning a government poll into a platform for personal self-identity issues?
July 16, 1997
Paul Solman leads a debate on the multiracial census category.
June 18, 1997
Essayist Richard Rodriguez discusses his views on checking the race box.
June 12, 1997:
Despite a clash over a ban on census sampling included in the bill, a flood relief package to help northwestern states passes Congress.
June 11, 1997:
Reps. Shimkus and Allen discuss the role of the census in flood relief problems.
U.S. Census Bureau
Question: What exactly is the race-related information collected on the census form used for these days?
Clyde Tucker responds:
The most immediate use is to determine compliance with the Voting Rights Act for redistricting at the state and local level. Censusdata on race also are used in other areas of civil rights compliance, such as fair housing, mortage lending practices, equal access to educational opportunities and health care services, and equal employment opportunity. State and local governments use these data for planning and administrativepurposes.
Susan Graham responds:
First, I think we need to point out that the recommendation on race andethnicity does not only apply to the Census. It directly changes somethingcalled OMB Statistical Directive 15, which dictates what everyone in thiscountry can be classified as both racially and ethnically. Therefore, we areactually talking about everything starting at birth, with birth certificates,and ending at death with death certificates and everything in between: employment forms and applications, school forms, state agency forms, healthforms, etc. The United States Census data is primarily used forcongressional reapportionment, legislative redistricting and enforcement ofthe Voting Right Act. It is also supposed to give us an accurate portrayalof Americans.