NAACP’s Views on New Multiracial Category – January 6, 1997

NAACP Weekly Radio Address Script

One idea is gathering interest in America is the idea of placing a new "multiracial" category on the next census form. Proponents argue that putting this new category for mixed-race individuals will give them new rights and new legal self-identity. On the other hand, opponents contend that creating a new racial classification will only serve to dilute other racial groups. But the issue is not black or white.

The NAACP has great sensitivity on this issue and, quite frankly, some questions about its implications. We support the right of individual self-identification and support self-determination in defining ones racial makeup. Expressions of multi-racial pride is one that should be encouraged and nurtured throughout this country.

But the question remains…Is the Census form the correct place to make such a personal (and sometimes political) statement about ones racial makeup?

There are repercussions in the census numbers that have very real impact on our lives. Provisions of the Voting Rights Act are specifically directed at correcting past discrimination (particularly in the deep south) where African Americans were denied their Constitutional rights. With some figures showing 70% of African Americans fitting into a multiracial category, will we be able to identify black voters in terms of fair representation? And how will that be achieved with a new multiracial category? With the Courts eradicating minority voting districts across the country, we must ensure that any new multiracial category not give aid to the enemies of the Voting Rights Act.

Whether you are black, white, Asian, Native American, Latino or some combination…you are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as other Americans. No one should be forced to choose or reject any aspect of their heritage and no category should be allowed to weaken others.

For the NAACP this is Kweisi Mfume reminding you that the fight for freedom still needs freedom fighters.

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