Horn Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Pros, Cons of Multiracial Classification

U.S. House of Representatives
105th Congress
Press Release – 21 May 1997


CONTACT: Matthew Phillips (202) 225-6676

John Hynes (202) 225-5147

RELEASE: May 21, 1997

HORN SUBCOMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON

PROS, CONS OF MULTIRACIAL CLASSIFICATION

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Representative Stephen Horn (R-CA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology, announced today the second in a series of hearings on Federal measures of race and ethnicity. The subcommittee's earlier hearing featured witnesses from government agencies who discussed the collection and use of data on race and ethnicity. At this hearing, witnesses from advocacy organizations will talk about their views on whether the government should have a multiracial or multiethnic classification.

Currently, the Government classifies all individuals in one of four racial categories: Black, White, Asian or Pacific Islander, and American Indian or Alaskan Native; and one ethnic category: Hispanic. There is increasing pressure to account for individuals who identify with more than one of these categories by allowing for multiracial and multiethnic designations.

"The Government is about to make a very important decision — one that will affect millions of lives as well as a wide variety of important programs," Horn said. "We need to hear all perspectives on the issue and understand all the implications before any action is taken."

The Office of Management and Budget is reviewing possible changes to Federal policy on measuring race and ethnicity. Changes would affect the year 2000 census as well as all other Federal programs that gather data on race and ethnicity. The issue has implications for apportionment of congressional districts, enforcement of civil rights laws, and a variety of demographic data, including statistics on health and education.

The hearing will feature advocates and opponents of a multiracial designation as well as those who feel the current categories do not accurately account for a particular group. The hearing will also include testimony from specialists in the demographic and sociological issues raised by measurements of race and ethnicity.

The hearing will begin at 2:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 22 in room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Invited witnesses include Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI); Susan Graham, President, and Tony Graham, Project RACE; Ramona Douglass, President, Association of MultiEthnic Americans; Helen Hatab Samhan, Executive Vice President, Arab-American Institute; Karen Narasaki, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium; Harold McDougall, Director, Washington Bureau, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Eric Rodriguez, Policy Analyst, National Council of La Raza; JoAnn Chase, Executive Director, National Congress of American Indians; Dr. Mary Waters, Department of Sociology, Harvard University; Dr. Balint Vazsonyi, Director, Center for the American Founding; and Dr. Harold Hodgkinson, Institute for Educational Leadership.

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