Census 2010: What Race Should Latinos Choose?

Check “American Indian” And Write In “Mestizo” Or “Unknown” As Tribal Affiliation

Census 2010: (8) Hispanic Origin vs (9) Race

The 2010 U.S. Census shipped this week to residents across the country. For those who consider themselves Latino or Hispanic, question #9 may cause some confusion. Question #8 asks whether or not a person is of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity. No confusion there.

Question 8: Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?

Asked in 1970. The data collected in this question are needed by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. State and local governments may use the data to help plan and administer bilingual programs of people of Hispanic origin. (census.gov)

Question #9 separates ethnicity from race, considering Latinos can be of various races; Spanish-speakers in Latin Americans do come in all colors. Using the crude color analogy, the available choices include “white,” “black,” “red” and “yellow.” But nothing explicitly for “brown.”

Question 9: What is Person 1’s race?

Asked since 1790. Race is key to implementing many federal laws and is needed to monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act. State governments use the data to determine congressional, state and local voting districts. Race data are also used to assess fairness of employment practices, to monitor racial disparities in characteristics such as health and education and to plan and obtain funds for public services. (census.gov)

Most Latinos have mixed ancestral heritage from indigenous Americans (Amerindian, Native American) and whites (or one of the other choices). But the “American Indian” category asks people to specify a tribe. In past census counts, the government ignored what Latinos wrote in here and counted them as white. But this year is different, according to Nicholas Jones, chief of the racial statistics branch of the U.S. Census Bureau. From an article written by Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, assistant professor at the University of Arizona, the “fill in the blank” box will be calculated and not re-assigned:

If they are de-Indigenized or far-removed from their Indigenous culture, that is not of interest to the bureau. For those who have a direct connection, they can check American Indian and write in their affiliation, such as: Aymara, Quechua, Mixtec, Maya, Huichol or Yaqui, etc. If they don’t know their affiliation – which is perhaps the case for most Mexicans/Chicanos and Hispanics/Latinos, the bureau will accept “unknown,” “detribalized, “de-Indigenized” or “mestizo” or any other term that indicates or connotes Indigenous or American Indian ancestry. (politicalarticles.net)

For me, I will be marking both “White” and “American Indian” categories, writing in “mestizo” as the tribal affiliation.

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15 Comments »

  Gravatar Phil Gibbs wrote @ March 17th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Thanks for the suggestion. I always wondered how I was supposed to complete number 9.

  Gravatar HispanicPundit wrote @ March 17th, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Being the sell out that I am, I just put White. :-D

  Gravatar Kurt wrote @ March 23rd, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Hey, at least you have options; I’ll be filling in “White” and forced to ignore my ethnic origins.

  Gravatar Mara wrote @ March 29th, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Recently, I found the 2010 Census form hanging on my door. As I began filling it out, I came across a dilemma. The U.S. government wants to know if my children are adopted or not and it wants to know what our races are. Being adopted myself, I had to put “Other” and “Don’t Know Adopted” for my race and “Other” and “Don’t Know” for my kids’ races.

Can you imagine not knowing your ethnicity, your race? Now imagine walking into a vital records office and asking the clerk for your original birth certificate only to be told “No, you can’t have it, it’s sealed.”

How about being presented with a “family history form” to fill out at every single doctor’s office visit and having to put “N/A Adopted” where life saving information should be?

Imagine being asked what your nationality is and having to respond with “I don’t know”.

It is time that the archaic practice of sealing and altering birth certificates of adopted persons stops.

Adoption is a 5 billion dollar, unregulated industry that profits from the sale and redistribution of children. It turns children into chattel who are re-labeled and sold as “blank slates”.

Genealogy, a modern-day fascination, cannot be enjoyed by adopted persons with sealed identities. Family trees are exclusive to the non-adopted persons in our society.

If adoption is truly to return to what is best for a child, then the rights of children to their biological identities should NEVER be violated. Every single judge that finalizes an adoption and orders a child’s birth certificate to be sealed should be ashamed of him/herself.

I challenge all readers: Ask the adopted persons that you know if their original birth certificates are sealed.

  Gravatar Rafiki wrote @ April 7th, 2010 at 2:47 am

Not to easy for a Spaniard like me, but what’s the difference among Black, African, or Negro??

Great blog.

  Gravatar NorskeDiv wrote @ April 8th, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Well said Kurt.

Hey, I’m half German. Germans were a race too just a hundred years ago, along with Norse, Irish and what have you.

If Latinos are going to balkanize into a separate “race,” let’s go all the way and give every option. Wouldn’t it be great! Arab, Druze, Chinese, Slavic, Germanic, French pride!! Maybe we could even split up into a bazillion little states and have a civil war with each other.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the days where Irish, German and so forth all viewed themselves with group pride in America were worse days, not better. I suppose many Latinos are first generation, so it’s understandable they see themselves as separate. But it bothers me deeply when Latino groups, the media (or for that matter the KKK) make these hyperbole statements about “whites” being the minority, and cast it either as some sort of triumph or doomsday. It really sickens me – I mean, it literally makes me feel like barfing.

  Gravatar deb wrote @ April 20th, 2010 at 5:42 am

I have two adopted children, one from Peru and one from Guatemala. My Peruvian son has the look of a Native American. He is possibly of Inca or Quechua descent. But I have no idea. When I got to question 9, I was totally stumped. Now I’m thinking he could be considered American Indian, because “America” comprises both North and South American, doesn’t it?

  Gravatar Mara wrote @ May 12th, 2010 at 6:11 am

Deb…

It’s a shame that the closed adoption system continues and children are continue to be kept from their biological histories, cultures, ethnicities all in the name of “adoption” and supplying children for the childless.

The flesh trade is alive and well and human rights are extinguished with every transaction.

  Gravatar Kurt wrote @ May 12th, 2010 at 9:40 am

I just completed the census over the phone after losing my form. I told the census worker that I would not answer the race or color questions because they were poorly written and not thorough enough. He encouraged me to answer “other” and describe it myself, I again told him that I would not for the same reasons.

  Gravatar dan wrote @ May 26th, 2011 at 7:09 pm

White is not a geographical location, neither is Black. Why do Hispanics, Asians, and all the Natives have to specify geographical locations? Why can’t we have our own unified color like Tan? Tan Americans? Too big of a voting majority? Lol.

  Gravatar LORMEL wrote @ August 10th, 2011 at 1:20 pm

It is very easy to know one’s race. Look in the mirror.
One may call himself Hispanic and look like he is from Africa.
Labels are absurd. I can tell a person’s race just by looking at him regardless of what they claim.
Red White Yellow Black are the races of mankind.
Go by your color and facial features
I’ve seen people who look African say they are Hispanic. I think not. This is as absurd as a Chinese saying they are Hispanic. They should say they CALL themselves Hispanic. Hispanics now have been grouped with anyone that doesn’t look like Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher.
Hispanics are in the White race if they look white as far as color is concerned. But if they look African they are Black not Hispanic..
I see a lot on the internet a black person say he is Hispanic, but I can clearly see they are African. I have never seen a Hispanic call themselves Black. But many Blacks calling themselves Hispanic.
The Bible says we all came from on blood, that we the offspring of God.
God doesn’t see race he sees human beings created in his image. The only reason I can see why they so desperately want to label people is because of pride.
Pride is something God hates if it is against another human being.

  Gravatar von wrote @ September 5th, 2012 at 9:32 am

to lormel, my grandparents move to usa from puerto rico. grandma born in spain, grandfather in puerto rico. His dad was black and spanish because his dad my great great grandfather was black and and his wife my great great grandmother was spanish from spain. so back to my dad who is black and spanish has me by my mom who is black and native american, i look mixed. my dads sister has a daughter by a black man, she looks black, no mix, but she is. So to LORMEL does that mean she can’t say she is hispanic. Just because you look at her and only see her black skin? Why does she have to deny who she is, she speaks spanish, knows the culture etc.. Everyone assumes i am mixed but i don’t even speak spanish, but my hair is curly, i am light complected and have hazel eyes, if i say i am black and puertorican no one bats an eye. You should be concerned with who you are and let others figure out who they are for themselves without judging. And it wouldn’t be pride to call yourself something you are not, it would be a lack of pride in who you are.

  Gravatar Ben wrote @ November 14th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I am proud to put American Indian and white as race (I always find a way to get in the truth) because my father is a white American and my mother’s mother and father were born and raised in Mexico and have always been proud to claim their Native ancestry. I’ve never understood why so many people would rather call themselves “Latino or Hispanic” – We should all be proud and not succumb to the propaganda that the people who stole our lands and murdered our ancestors are somehow better than we are and that it’s best to pretend to be one of them. No one could call us illegal or alien if we just acknowledged with justifiable pride our Native American ancestry. The language we speak does not define who we are as a people. When I look at people from Spain – I see a white person, when I look at a person of “Hispanic or Latino” decent, I do not see a white person. No one else does either. We must stop fooling ourselves and stop pretending that to be identified by our language and instead embrace who we are and be proud of it!

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