U.S. Census Bureau Race Categories

Part of my graduate thesis dealt with the history of race and the complicated nature of categorization. I’ve always been curious about the U.S. American category options and how they’re used. And to my surprise, our address was randomly selected for a U.S. Census Bureau survey. On the second page, we get questions about race and ethnicity:

U.S. Census Bureau Race Categories

Is this person Spanish/Hispanic/Latino? Mark (X) the “No” box if not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino.
[ ] No, not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino
[ ] Yes, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano
[ ] Yes, Puerto Rican
[ ] Yes, Cuban
[ ] Yes, other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino — Print group.
________________________________

What is this person’s race? Mark (X) one or more races to indicate what this person considers himself/herself to be.
[ ] White
[ ] Black or African American
[ ] American Indian or Alaskan Native — Print name of enrolled or principal tribe.
_________________________________
[ ] Asian Indian
[ ] Chinese
[ ] Filipino
[ ] Japanese
[ ] Korean
[ ] Vietnamese
[ ] Other Asian — Print race.
_________________________________
[ ] Native Hawaiian
[ ] Guamanian or Chamorro
[ ] Samoan
[ ] Other Pacific Islander — Print race below.
_________________________________

When I was in high school, I remember being confused while filling out race information on standardized tests. The options have changed quite a bit since then, with more specific Asian options. The Latino category has become an ethnicity in addition to a race.

Question: In what race category would you put Rosario? Not white, black or a specific American Indian tribe. I’m stumped.

Mi Dama

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13 Comments »

  Gravatar Joe wrote @ September 12th, 2007 at 1:24 am

easy out: the human race

  Gravatar aaryn b. wrote @ September 12th, 2007 at 9:54 am

those categories are very confusing and offensive in a pigeon holey kind of way. but i’d definitely put rosario in the heart-breakingly stunning category. that part isn’t confusing at all.

  Gravatar cindylu wrote @ September 12th, 2007 at 12:48 pm

I hate those categories. They definitely stumped me. I wrote about this a few months ago after I had read a book on immigration and assimilation. The authors posited that Latinos who marked their race as white were probably more assimilated. I thought that was a stupid assumption. I marked “white” as a race reluctantly in the 2000 census because the other two options didn’t fit. I don’t tend to think of myself in racial terms, I’m more about ethnicity.

  Gravatar Nathan wrote @ October 6th, 2007 at 8:58 pm

For both of us, I decided to mark the “Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano” and write in “HUMAN” under the option for another race.

  Gravatar oso wrote @ October 15th, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Definitely shoulda gone with Chamorro. It’s fun to say.

  Gravatar rosalyn wrote @ February 3rd, 2008 at 12:17 am

everytime i see stuff like this i feel sick. i lived in spain for a few months and i was talking about this classification that the U.S. does. my friend who now lives in france didn’t understand. he thought the U.S. was sick. He said in Europe is forbidden to put people in racial classifications. people are people. you are spanish, french, german, italian..and so on. aren’t we american’s? i hope our nation will change….

  Gravatar Jerry wrote @ July 16th, 2008 at 12:10 pm

I’d say she’s beautiful, nice picture…wait; what was the question? Oh yeah, what race? Who cares, she look like good folk, enjoy one another’s company and love one another for all your worth, that is what matters.

cheers

  Gravatar Michelle wrote @ October 20th, 2008 at 5:35 am

… As far as Rosario, who is beautiful(as all before me have said) it is a hard choice since I cannot see all of her facial features, but I will pick:
South American, Indian(not American), Italian, and/or a combination of these.

I am writing on this same subject of race categorization….the more I dig into American history the more I understand the anger of Black, and Indian Americans.
I agree, we should all be called Americans. I like how the Europeans view the race issues, hopefully the West will catch on.

  Gravatar Nikki Surti wrote @ November 3rd, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Our classification of Rosario doesn’t matter. Rosario’s response matters. On the 2000 US Census, respondents marked one or more of the 5 enumerated races.

White – origins in the original people of Europe, Middle East, and North Africa
Black – origins in original people of black Africa
Asian – origins in original people of Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent
Pacific Islander – origins in original people of Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia
American Indian – origins in original people of North, Central and South America

She can mark more than one race if she is multiracial.

The 2000 US Census considers “Hispanic or Latino” to be an ethnicity which is separate from race. She may either respond that she is ethnically a “Hispanic or Latino” or ethnically “not Hispanic or Latino”.

  Gravatar maria wrote @ December 10th, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Here’s the thing, answers like “HUMAN RACE” are totally useless. That might be fine if we lived in a totally unbiased world that didn’t care about race and ethnicity but we all know that’s not true… I think tracking this is important. Without it, how could we fight racial diparities in education, wealth and opportunity? Plus, we’ve come a long way in now being able to mark multiple categories. It’s not perfect but it’s better than nothing.

  Gravatar kay wrote @ December 20th, 2008 at 6:29 pm

the US Census should put a mestizo category since most Latinos in the US are mestizos

  Gravatar Kirk wrote @ August 4th, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Yeah, yeah, yeah…whatever folks. Remember, this is America! If you don’t like it, go and live in some country where you don’t have to check a box dealing with race. There are both, bad and good things about having to choose. However, we all still live in the best damn nation in the world. Look in the mirrow and ask yourself, Why am I still living in America, if I’m that unhappy? The real issue is not about what RACE you check in a freaking box, rather how you treat every race of people you encounter daily. Open your ears and eyes, race and ethnic affilitation does matter…especially in America! Other countries have race relations and other issues too.

Do yourself and others a kind favor, use your “freedom” of choice and check the little box and go take a chill pill and enjoy all the wonderful fruits of this great American nation! We are all very fortunate to be here… no matter who was in America first or still arriving. This is the planet Earth. We all must have clean air, fresh water to drink, safe food to eat, sunshine, clothing, shelter etc. Get it? It’s really not that bad. Be whatever race you choose…just demonstrate all the best that race has to offer and showcase it proudly before our kids so they can follow your lead.

PEACE.

Kirk

  Gravatar Jorge wrote @ March 25th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Kirk,
All i want to do is as you said “Check the little box and take a chill pill” but which box do i check White, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander or American Indian why isn’t mexican or hispanic a race

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