Hispanics Resist Racial Grouping by Census

Hispanics Resist Racial Grouping by Census
The New York Times
October 24, 2004

SILVER SPRING, Md., Oct. 23 – The music was blaring, the hair dryers humming and the hair stylists laughing in the beauty salon as one of them, Kathia Mendez, loosened her curlers and let her black hair tumble to her shoulders. To many Americans, the vivacious young woman smiling into the gilded mirror
might seem easily recognizable as a black woman.

But like many Hispanics here, Ms. Mendez views race through a decidedly different lens. In her home country, the Dominican Republic, she is known as “india,” or Indian, a term often used for people of mixed race who do not have indigenous roots. If she was asked to describe herself in the United States census, she says, she would choose the racial category selected by nearly 15 million Hispanics in 2000: “some other race.”


  1. Unfortunately, the United States government is attempting to strong-arm individuals into one of the “established” racial categories. Mario Delgado (The Unhyphenated American – http://home.cinci.rr.com/justamerican/) argues that Americans should respond “human” in the “some other race” section of the 2010 U.S. Census questionnaire. That option might not be available if “some other race” is indeed eliminated. That leaves my position that people should simply “Refuse to Choose.” Leave the boxes blank and simply return the rest of the questionnaire.

    Mon 10/25/2004 4:11 PM

    1. Unfortunately, we know what will happen. The refuseniks will just be parceled out to the official categories.

      Tue 10/26/2004 8:44 AM

      1. That has to be illegal. If not, then someone has to introduce legislation to make it so.

        Tue 10/26/2004 8:59 AM

        1. It is standard practice to allocate non-answers to the “race” questions among the official categories. Ward Connerly has also said that this is done at the University of California and other schools. Do you know any Congressperson who would dare to introduce a bill making the practice illegal? See the quotes below from the NY Times article on “Hispanics Resist Racial Grouping by Census.”


          In the MARS file, census officials assign a race to those who select “some other race” and include them in standard racial groups to accommodate federal agencies that do not use the ambiguous racial category. Federal agencies use estimates from the MARS files to track population and birth and mortality rates, among other things.

          Census demographers look for clues to make such determinations, checking to see whether relatives are listed in standard racial categories and checking neighborhood demographics. Census officials say the process is flawed and needs changing, even though they understand that sociologists and advocacy groups want to continue tracking and studying Hispanics who choose the “some other race” category.

          “The race question and race in the United States is a very emotional issue and people who are interested in it feel very strongly about it,” said Preston Jay Waite, associate director for the decennial census.

          “But if somebody writes down that their race is Latino, that doesn’t give us any information about which of the race categories they’re in,” Mr. Waite said. “We’re making up the race for 15 million people. We would prefer not to do it. It doesn’t seem wise to me that we would put at risk the racial statistics of the nation in order to answer an interesting sociological question.”

          Tue 10/26/2004 3:33 PM

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