Petri Testifies for “Tiger Woods” Census Bill

U.S. House of Representatives
105th Congress
Press Release – 23 April 1997


WASHINGTON — The Census Bureau should allow people of mixed racial heritage to designate themselves as "multiracial" instead of having to pick between the races of their mothers and fathers or grandparents, Rep. Petri said in testimony Wednesday before the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology.

Petri said the House should approve his "Tiger Woods" bill, H.R. 830, which would provide the multiracial option. Petri recently named the bill for the winner of the Masters Golf Tournament, who recently told TV host Oprah Winfrey that he calls himself "Cablinasian," representing his heritage which is one-eighth Caucasian, one-fourth black, one-eighth American Indian, and one-half Asian (one-quarter Thai, one-quarter Chinese).

"When we exclude an entire category of people on a government form such as the census we are denying these people recognition of their unique place in society," Petri told the subcommittee. "Here we have an official form of the United States government telling them that they don't quite fit in. In the case of multiracial individuals we are asking them to choose between one part of their heritage and another — between one parent and the other, or possibly between four different grandparents," he said.

Petri said he first became interested in the issue when he was the senior Republican on the old Census Subcommittee in the early 1990s. He said that since introducing the bill he has worked with a number of organizations and individuals in the multiracial community. "As I understand it, the subcommittee is planning on another hearing next month and you will hear testimony from some of these individuals. You will be hearing from some very sincere and dedicated people to whom this is a crucial issue," he testified. "It is about full recognition as an integral part of the American tapestry — the melting pot that makes our nation unique in the world," he said.

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