Letter to OMB re: Multiracial Census Category

Speaker Gingrich Endorses Multiracial Census Category

July 1, 1997

The Honorable Franklin D. Raines
Director, Office Of Management and Budget
Room 252, Old Executive Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20503

Dear Director Raines,

It is my understanding that the Office of Management and Budget is currently in the process of making a decision on whether to include a multiracial category on the form for the 2000 Census.

I would like to add my voice by saying that I strongly believe that including a multiracial option on federal forms and in the 2000 Census would significantly help to ensure a more accurate reflection of the racial makeup of the United States. At present, multiracial Americans are denied the ability to declare all of their heritage on census and federal forms. Only four racial categories were adopted by OMB in May 1977. Twenty years later, the forms still reflect the same four rigid categories that are outdated and unrealistic in light of the dramatic increase in the number of interracial families in the last two decades.

Currently, OMB Directive 15 states, "The category which most closely reflects the individual‘s recognition in his community should be used for purposes of reporting on persons who are of mixed racial and/or ethnic categories." Consequently, multiracial Americans are being told by OMB to pick one race over another race essentially denying the totality of their American heritage. The meaning of racial categorization is a very personal matter and one that has been ignored for too long for multiracial children and adults. The state of Georgia and six other states have already added a multiracial classification for this growing segment of our population. In a country full of multiple ethnicities and races, simply being American should be enough. However, trying to classify each and every one of us into four simple categories does not make sense.

I believe that we can begin to address the country‘s racial divide by adding a multiracial category to federal forms and the United States Census while simultaneously phasing out the outdated, divisive and rigid classification of Americans.


Newt Gingrich

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