Census: Race and Ethnicity

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Angelo Falcón, chair of the Census Advisory Committee on the Hispanic Population, and Jeff Yang, the "Asian Pop" columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and a consumer strategist for Iconoculture, discuss questions 8 and 9 on the U.S. Census form and the complexities around tracking race and ethnicity in America.

Check out the "10 Questions That Count" Census Home Page

Anecdotal Census: Mixed-race listeners: Does checking off multiple boxes on the census form identify you the way you want to be identified? Comment below!


Angelo Falcon and Jeff Yang

Comments [79]

Mara from California

Recently, I found the 2010 Census form hanging on my door. As I began filling it out, I came across a dilemma. The U.S. government wants to know if my children are adopted or not and it wants to know what our races are. Being adopted myself, I had to put “Other” and “Don’t Know Adopted” for my race and “Other” and “Don’t Know” for my kids’ races.

Can you imagine not knowing your ethnicity, your race? Now imagine walking into a vital records office and asking the clerk for your original birth certificate only to be told “No, you can’t have it, it’s sealed.”

How about being presented with a “family history form” to fill out at every single doctor’s office visit and having to put “N/A Adopted” where life saving information should be?

Imagine being asked what your nationality is and having to respond with “I don’t know”.

It is time that the archaic practice of sealing and altering birth certificates of adopted persons stops.

Adoption is a 5 billion dollar, unregulated industry that profits from the sale and redistribution of children. It turns children into chattel who are re-labeled and sold as “blank slates”.

Genealogy, a modern-day fascination, cannot be enjoyed by adopted persons with sealed identities. Family trees are exclusive to the non-adopted persons in our society.

If adoption is truly to return to what is best for a child, then the rights of children to their biological identities should NEVER be violated. Every single judge that finalizes an adoption and orders a child’s birth certificate to be sealed should be ashamed of him/herself.

I challenge all readers: Ask the adopted persons that you know if their original birth certificates are sealed.

Apr. 10 2010 08:00 PM
Alberta from Bloomfield NJ

Why don't we all -- as I did -- indicate "Human" -- which is, in fact, the only race.

Mar. 26 2010 03:30 AM
Eugenia Renskoff from Williamsburgh, Brooklyn

Hello, Where they asked etnicity, I wrote Caucassian. Although I was born in Argentina, my ancestors on both sides of the family came from Europe--Northern Italy and Russia. Besides,I have felt some form or another of prejudice ever since I came to this country when I was a child. I decided long ago not to tolerate it. Eugenia Renskoff

Mar. 25 2010 04:18 PM

I think it is so silly that after 10 years, they still can't design the census in a way to resolve this issue. Can't they add a NEW question about ethnicity so that statisticians' old race question data doesn't get messed up?

Mar. 25 2010 02:53 PM
Phil from NY

And, bravo #59. (I've come to the segment late.)

Mar. 25 2010 12:04 PM
Alejandro Gutierrez from Brooklyn, NY

I challenge Angelo Falcon to include on the Census' Committee on Hispanic Affairs anthropologists who are knowledgeable about indigenous issues from Latin America as it appears that his Boricua-centric social science approach to race-identity metrics seriously reflects a lack of understanding of this population. Here I highlight two issues which underscore this:
1) The Spanish translation of the bilingual Census questionnaire is so poorly translated on the race question that it will create large non-responses by indigenous populations from Guatemala, Mexico and Ecuador. The question is posed as tribal, when that concept is foreign south of the border where the terms "Indigenous populations", "Indigenous peoples" or "Original Peoples" are more commonly used. In addition, the word "Indian" in English is literally and inappropriately translated as "india".
2) By and large, indigenous peoples from Latin American self-identify as "indigenous", not as Hispanics, Latinos, Ladinos, etc. Furthermore, his referencing "assimilation" as a predominant process of incorporation into US society reflects an outmoded understanding of more complex cultural processes at work. Assimilation assumes a linear process of abandonment of original cultural values, outlooks, beliefs, language, identities in favor of the dominant culture in the destination country. Clearly, the issue of indigenous identity can better be understood in the context of acculturation, a more nuanced process of cultural give-and-take than Mr. Falcon acknowledges.

Mar. 25 2010 12:03 PM
Ivan Obregon from

Hi Brian,

Latinos is a cultural category, not a racial one, referring to people descending from Spanish or Portuguese speaking ancestors spanning the world. As is always the case, race is also a political term depending a lot on socio-economic status, demographic numbers, power, and prejudices towards those with less access to determining the cultural and legal constructs of ethnicity. In the US, the term Hispanic is ultimately a self-labeling choice as it can include people descended from Europe, Africa, and Native America and all the mixed varieties across that spectrum, as well as people who no longer speak Spanish or Portuguese, such as 4th-generationers or Filipinos. The obsession with "Latino" or "Hispanic" or "Spanish" terms is silly as any given Latin American is usually more likely to have a European ( "white") descendant from Spain or Portugal as Aztec or African if picked out from throughout the continent. It's that ancestry that we tend to have in common regardless of the mix, and it ends up being overly "politically correct" to complain too much that a Spanish-speaking mixed race immigrant with a Latin surname can't also be recognized for his/her "white" "Spanish" European ancestry ( though granted, without denying any other ancestry involved- black, native american, or even Asian, Jewish, Arabic, French or Italian; afterall, though "Latino" is a more implicitly inclusive and hence better term, just how "latin" are Incas or Yorubans?).

The real curiosity is how defining oneself as of "mixed race", regardless of actual skin tone, is less of an issue for Hispanics than for other Americans, indicating that the term has come to presuppose the racial rainbow remnant of the Spanish-Portuguese empires.


Mar. 25 2010 11:59 AM
Phil from NY

Bravo #34, #35 and #39. The people of French, Portuguese, and other European language descent former colonies of the Americas ought to be considered "French (or French Creole)-speaking Latino," Catallano (or Catallano Creole)-speaking Latino," "Portuguese (or Portuguese Creole)-speaking Latino," etc..

And, if the gov't's. intent is for the data to be used for social justice purposes, then rather than "race," the term, "ethnicity" or, better, "population group" (including "American" for those who prefer to consider themselves that), ought to be used.

There should also be categories for Jews,
Arabs, white Africans, black Africans, and sub-Saharan Africans.

Finally, the question should be, "Of which population group do you consider yourself? your spouse? your children?"

Mar. 25 2010 11:58 AM
pete from manahattan

enough with labeling and categorizing people as if we are show the Census the american kennel club for people? whether someone is one "race" or "mixed race" doesnt matter unless someone is seeking false pride for their "diversity" or lack thereof-nobody should be celebrated or mourned for their particular genotype. and if the purpose is for affirmative action then it is outright racist-"discrimination or prejudice based on 'race'".we cannot progress as a society until we stop labelling people based on genetic background. our ethnicity is American period.

Mar. 25 2010 11:55 AM
Roxana from Crested Butte, Colorado

I am a white Cuban. Second generation Cuban of Spanish descent. Currently listening to the show an cringing at what I am hearing. The common issue that seems to come up for me is the confusion between nationality, ethic groups and race. Race is the phenotypical expression of your biological heritage. One can not be half white and half Japanese. One is a race and one is a nationality, nor half black and half Puerto Rican, there are many black Puerto Ricans whose relatives were slaves and suffered the same mistreatment under the hands of colonization as black Americans.
My relative born in Cuba born to a White Cuban mother and a Asian Cuban father is not half Cuban and half Chinese. She is Mestiso of Asian and White (European) racial background and she is Cuban by nationality. Her culture is a different matter and it would be determined by which culture combination predominates in her environment. If we ask what race someone is and then determine where they are from geographically (ethnic group, nationality) you would get a much larger and detailed profile of the ethic, racial groups in the US. Including, how people of different races within the Latino or other blanket term fare in the larger picture of US economy. Then we can begin to ask better questions as to why that is. A blanket term like we tend to use serves to purpose but to limit understanding of our demographic. People that tend to identify as Hispanic racially do so because they have lost a sense of real racial identity. No person in Cuba or Venezuela or The Dominican Republic identify as Hispanic, we identify with our actual races and mixes thereof.
Does everyone get amnesia once they come to the US and begin filling out forms?

Mar. 25 2010 11:49 AM
Mike C. from Tribeca

Of course there's no such thing as race, but I'm amazed by how many posters don't get the point of why the Census Bureau accumulates the information. Are they being disingenuous and are they just immature trouble makers?

Mar. 25 2010 11:48 AM
Lance from Manhattan

The census does not presume to claim that race is a biologically valid concept.

And for all those who oppose the recognition of any race, and choose to write in "human" or somesuch, the fact remains that racial prejudice is still alive and well in our country. An important way to recognize and fight racial discrimination is still to identify differences between expected and actual percentages of people of different racial backgrounds in various settings. The census provides one important basis for the expected percentages in the population.

Mar. 25 2010 11:44 AM
Mark Glackin from New York

The beauty of America is that when people are unsure about how to classify themselves in the census - it just means that they are, or are in the process of becoming, Americans. It is what continues to make us great: our diversity, our mutual respect, and our ability to learn from and be interested in each others' varied cultures.

Mar. 25 2010 11:42 AM
Amy from Manhattan

My grandparents were Ashkenazic Jews from 3 different countries in Eastern Europe. I never thought of my ancestry as going any further back than that until a friend of mine in college brought her ESOL students to the language lab & introduced them. One of them surprised me by asking if I had any family from Syria, & said he knew a girl there who looked just like me. Since then I write in my race as Semitic. (Yes, I know that also covers people of Arab ancestry--that's part of the point. If the Census people want to know any more specifically, they can call me.)

Mar. 25 2010 11:41 AM
Belinda from New York

As a Nigerian and African immigrant, what I don't understand is why we all get classified under the category black in this census. Why do the Asians get to self-identify with categories like Korean, Vietnamese etc and African immigrants do not? Our identities are simply 'blackwashed' under the broad category black, which if we are to be completely honest is simply codeword for African-American in the traditional sense in this country.

Mar. 25 2010 11:40 AM
artista from greenpoint

your comments on Arab Americans troubles me. Why is it odd for Arabs to be counted as white if we Jews are?
Aren't the two groups close relatives?
I checked both white and jewish (under other). It is clear that most of the categories on the form are ethnic groups, not races. We are all, as a number of people commented, ONE RACE.

It disturbs me that people derive pride or feel insulted from what they check on a census form and how their preferred self- categorization is listed.

Mar. 25 2010 11:39 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

I would love to see the census simplify it down to skull type: negroid, caucasoid and mongoloid.


Mar. 25 2010 11:37 AM
Maribel from Westchester

If you call Hispanic as race, what would we, people from Spain, do? We are of Spanish/Hispanic origin, bur are white in race. I do not think that would work

Mar. 25 2010 11:36 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

Linda from LES - because they speak Spanish. I find that white people make this mistake more than Latinos.


Mar. 25 2010 11:35 AM
john from office

Why would speaking spanish make you a new race.??

Mar. 25 2010 11:34 AM
Nick from NYC

Also, I find that this way of thinking and classifying contributes to a false conflation of the constructs of "race", which is imagined to be some set of physical characteristics, and social groupings, such as "Irish-American".

Race does not exist biologically; so, we're taking about social constructs, and thus, these questions seem by necessity to need to be infinitely open ended.

Is it country of origin of one's ancestors? If so, how far back? Where is the mathematical cut-off, and why?

If we're taking about Puerto Rican-Irish-German children marrying Mexican-Chinese-African-American, at what mathematical point does one determine what they "are"? That this point cannot possibly be determined shows the problem.

This question only makes sense as an open-ended question. And, it would be just as legitimate, since we are really taking about "self-identification" as an identity, for people to be able to respond "New Yorker" or "Gay-American" - these are just as valid as categories!!

Mar. 25 2010 11:32 AM
Laura from Brooklyn, NY

is the solution to just write how dark your skin tone is, and whether or not you have "stereotypical" features???? (eg straight hair, curly hair, asian eyes... ect) Because this is what it feels like we're categorizing, and "race" is just a "nice" word of doing that. (sarcasm)

Mar. 25 2010 11:32 AM
Linda from LES

Please explain to me why New Yorkers refer to Latinos/Hispanics as "Spanish". After hearing the caller complain about how the term "Hispanic" denotes ownership (what??), why in the world do the VAST majority of Latino/Hispanic New Yorkers refer to themselves as SPANISH?????

Mar. 25 2010 11:31 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

Brazilians are black or white - not all that complicated in terms of the census. Pretty sure you don't need your own box.

Mar. 25 2010 11:31 AM
Mike C. from Tribeca

Genji, if you haven't received a form you can order one at the number at the Census site below. It took me two seconds to look it up on Google.

Mar. 25 2010 11:31 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

I'm mixed. I selected black and white.

Some of these responses seem rather narcissistic. Really, who cares? Is someone actually reading that you're "Euro Korean"?

Good lord.

Mar. 25 2010 11:30 AM
FranciL from New York City

ooops genji comment 45. i meant go to

Mar. 25 2010 11:29 AM
FranciL from New York City

To Genji, comment 47, go to

Mar. 25 2010 11:29 AM
Monica Rodriguez from Stony Point, NY

I'd like to mention, for those who think others here are 'confusing' race and ethnicity, that there was a specific definition of race created back in the 19th century - before anything such as ethnicity was dreamed of. Later, ethnicity was created to make up for the existence of people such as Latinos, etc., who didn't fit into the Darwinian racial definitions.

As the decades have passed, fewer and fewer people have fit into the old 19th century racial definitions, and I think it's time that, if sociology won't abandon them, the Census Bureau at least ought to.

The traditional definitions of race that divide the world by color simply do not work anymore. The world and its people are far more diverse than 19th century scientists dreamed.

Mar. 25 2010 11:28 AM
K from NYC

I identify as mixed or as American. My background includes: Mexican, Filipino, Spanish, Armenian, Irish, English, welsh.... I don't strongly identify as any of these. I was born in America in Hawaii actually. But my skin is brown so I don't identify as white because others have not seen me/treated me that way. I checked as may boxes as I could so that more mixed people will be counted. I wonder why it is so important to label people when counting them? Also are any "white" people annoyed at not being able to go more into depth about their heritage would you rather be identified as of English decent for example?

Mar. 25 2010 11:27 AM
American American

I'm with Nick #15. We never fill out the race and ethnicity part of the census.

Mar. 25 2010 11:27 AM
FranciL from New York City

I've never considered myself white, although my Puerto Rican dad's birth certificate says "white." I am Hispanic, white (from my European mom), black, Taino.

Mar. 25 2010 11:26 AM
Renata De Oliveira from Plainview

I think Brazilians should have their own ethnicity box, as we are the largest country in Latin America and the only one that speaks portuguese; population over 190 million! I have Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, an Native Brazilian in my blood, I think we are the best example of a mutt and proud of it! I am Brazilian...

Mar. 25 2010 11:25 AM
Lisa from New Jersey

What is white?
What is the defenition of Race?

Mar. 25 2010 11:25 AM

I'm a Hapa in the Lower East Side...but I got no form!!! How can I get one.

My mother is English and my father is Japanese but having grown up in Brooklyn I consider my self more a Puerto Rican, Black, Italian, Jew than Japanese or English.

Mar. 25 2010 11:25 AM
Ben from Brooklyn

As a child of an interracial same sex couple I wonder what I would be considered. Biologically I am solely Jewish but I was raised since birth with both Jewish and Puerto Rican cultures. As an extension of this question, how do people designate themselves when they have been adopted by a different race family?

Mar. 25 2010 11:25 AM
John from NJ

Is it the case that blacks are often undercounted? I know a lot people that have African features and skin tone, but consider themselves to be of another race.

Mar. 25 2010 11:24 AM
teresa from nyc

I am bi-racial, black father, white mother. I wrote this on my census form, but do not know which category the census bureau will eventually lump me into.

Mar. 25 2010 11:24 AM
David Alexander from Long Island, NY

The problem that I have with the Census is that it lacks a place for Caribbean Americans who prefer not to be lumped into the native mainstream African-American community. It's insulting given that Hispanics are separated, but Caribbeans and other African immigrants are lumped in which eliminates are separate identity, and makes it harder to do proper statistics on this segment of the population. Personally, I'll be filling out the other category as Caribbean.

Mar. 25 2010 11:24 AM
Leon Wynter from New YORK

Bottom Line: Any attempt to gather a group under one category, for whatever political, cultural or historical reason, is doomed to fail.

Mar. 25 2010 11:22 AM
Susan from Manhattan

Race is a conceit - the question shouldn't even be on the census, ethnicity (with an emphasis on cultural traditions) is what matters!!!

Mar. 25 2010 11:22 AM
john from office

There is nothing wrong with the word HISPANIC, it has an historical origin. Latino is more PC, pushed on us by people like brian and len. White liberals.

Their favorite is people of color, another phrase pushed by White Liberals.

Mar. 25 2010 11:20 AM
Richard from montclair

I checked other and wrote in HUMAN - an answer that places me in a large category with everyone else. I learned that race is not a legitimate category 45 years ago in college. Why are we still discussing this?

Mar. 25 2010 11:20 AM
Judy from NJ

I am half-German(3rd generation) and half PR.
Why has it been said hispanic is a separate race? Is that a bilogical fact?
I applaud the distinctions made in this census.

Mar. 25 2010 11:19 AM
Pam from NY

Why doesn't the term, "Latino" include all people in the Americas who speak Latin-descent languages?

Mar. 25 2010 11:19 AM
Marta from Manhattan

African-American is a flawed term. Algerians, Moroccans, Eqyptions, plus white Namibians, South Africans (Cherlize Theron!), Zimbabweans, etc. settling here are all African-American, yet they're not black.

Personally, I'm a white Brazilian; Latina, yet NOT Hispanic, of German, Scots, Portuguese and a little Spanish blood. Think Giselle Bündchen (we're from the same state).

Mar. 25 2010 11:19 AM
Rick from Manhattan

My husband is Italian and has always insisted that he is Latino. Of original Latinos.

Mar. 25 2010 11:18 AM
Jacqueline Brown from Manhattan

The Census is not necessarily trying to get at the depth of people's identities. People should not use the census to express the complexity of their actual background. They should just pick one aspect of their background--the one that relates to the most disadvantaged group in society--and check that. If you're of Filipino and white background, just check Filipino! That will help Filipinos.

Mar. 25 2010 11:17 AM
Elisa from White Plains

I have no idea what to check off for my children.

They are adopted from Guatemala. I am Eastern European Jewish (and have never felt comfortable checking Caucasian rather than having something related to my Jewish ethnic background) and my partner is Italian.

Any suggestions for how to complete this for my kids?

Mar. 25 2010 11:17 AM
Sara from New York City

I was very confused by the race question. I am Mexican American but I'm not sure what to check on the Race category? I am not white. I am of native Mexican/ Mayan decent- Does that count as Native American?? Should I write in Native Mexican??

Mar. 25 2010 11:17 AM
Rebekah from Brooklyn, Ny

I have filled out the census for the first time this year @ 31. I was abit more than annoyed at having to racialize myself in the first place and then to see Negro on the same line with African- American was particularly offensive. I am American and that's the only reason I filled it out in spite of annoyance and to maintain appropriate funding in my neighborhood. Everyone knows 'Race' (not culture) is crap.

Mar. 25 2010 11:15 AM
IC from New York, Montreal

Following Kai's comment 2 mins. ago. Funny my son is also Hapa and named K'ai, and feels exactly as Kai mentioned, neither Asian nor white and always a kinship with similar Hapas, pretty much all of his friends are too!

Mar. 25 2010 11:15 AM
Hapa Chick from Harlem

Only 2% of the American population is mixed race? I find that extremely hard to believe. Brian, please ask your guest where he got that statistic from.

Also, I think almost all of your callers so far have confused race and ethnicity. They are different. Please make the distinction.

From a personal standpoint, I'm half Chinese and half Anglo and I didn't have an issue filling out my census form. However, I do think that it is a bit misleading in some ways because I actually look like a Latina (almost everyone assumes that's what I am, even though I don't have any Latino background), so I get treated as such.

Mar. 25 2010 11:15 AM
Alaina from Weehawken

My housemates and I were excitedly filling out the Census form, and I was confused when they (both born in the US but raised in Venezuela) decided to write "American" in the other box. I had always noticed that they seemed to identify themselves more often as American than I do, even though I have lived here my whole life. Most of the people I have known don't see "American" as an ethnicity the way we do with other countries. I am wondering if this is a response the might come up often on the Census (maybe more often among immigrants with citizenship?) Is this kind of extra information useful?

Mar. 25 2010 11:14 AM
MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick from Mount Vernon, New York

We are a family of five in Mount Vernon, New York. Mother, Father, three minor children (all boys).

I wrote in "Irish-American" for all of us.

MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick

Mar. 25 2010 11:14 AM
The Mayoress from Brooklyn

I love checking off the first 3 race boxes... on the census. It's on other things, like college applications, where I've felt conflicted in my life. Or getting your social security card, where you're not allowed more than one race. I'm sorry, but no one race defines my experience or worldview.

I think in most areas, income bracket is a far more important indicator than race.

Mar. 25 2010 11:14 AM
Laura from New York, NY

Its hard to just check one category while filling out these forms. I and alot of others sometimes write what society perceives us as... I look "black", but my sister could be categorized as "white" however, I did check "other" in addition to "black" and wrote in mixed-race ... Ideally, I would love to have a box that just says "mixed-race" because I don't like identifying myself as just one race. My heritage is very mixed, as my parents are from Jamaica, both of them mixed with Black, White, Indian, and Chinese elasticities. We cherish all of these identities, but don't really identify as just one race.

Mar. 25 2010 11:14 AM
Monica Rodriguez from Stony Point, NY

As a Puerto Rican, I'm disappointed the Census Bureau is still using the 19th century categories of race. Yet they have added some groups and not others as a "race," specifically Latino/Hispanic. I get to specify the specific ancestry of my Latino background, but then the next question asks me what I consider the same question: I am not black, white, etc. I am Latino. The Census Bureau needs to acknowledge and deal with this. It's the 21st century.

Mar. 25 2010 11:14 AM
Jen C. from Westchester

For years I have considered myself "African American" because that is what my parents have identified with... my husband is considered "white" ... because that's what his parents identified most with. I recently asked my parents what EXACTLY was my ethnic makeup. I'm less than 1/16 of African descent, more than 1/2 Native American, the rest "European" descent. My husband ethnic background also includes Native American. What does this make our children? Our "race" system is deeply flawed.

Mar. 25 2010 11:13 AM
Denice from Midtown

Two thoughts on race and the census:

1) It bugs me that there is only one white category while there are multiple categories for latinos/hispanics and for asians. The non-white categories relate to heritage and origin, white is not a heritage or origin but rather encompasses a hole host of peoples. It seems inaccurate to count all "white" people as the same.

2) As someone half black and half white I'm tempted to check both boxes but feel that checking "black" will do more for my community than checking both.

Mar. 25 2010 11:13 AM
E. Pena from Brooklyn

I'm a Dominican male, but I am pretty much white. Not even mixed, just Dominican and fair skinned. I put down white for myself.

My mother on the other hand, is darker than me, but not black, or even brown really. Nothing matched her in the Census...

Mar. 25 2010 11:13 AM
Juana Merchan from South Plainfiels

Even though everyone tells me I like White, I consider myself "mestiza" and that is what I wrote in my census. I think most south and central American countries feel that they are a mixed race regardless of how you look.
thank you

Mar. 25 2010 11:12 AM
Tamara Spencer from greenwich village

I am biracial (African American/White)
1- The census is a political document; not an exercise in my "self-identity." Meaning, while in conversation and daily life I identify as a biracial, this document has less to do with my "identity" but everything to do with various political allocation of funds, civic policies, perceptions of ethnic/racial groups, etc..

2--It is important to disrupt the way blacks we are perceived in the census.

3--this document has a very real history for (and continues to play a huge role in oppressing) African Americans in the US. It was/is used to divided, classify, "out", etc. There was a time-whether you were biracial due to rape or a loving relationship between two people--you were classified as black...

But, here we are in 2010. And, yes, we have Obama and this myth of post-racial times (and this is not why I am musing with this idea btw). Rather, I do believe that if the world does not start to see that:

1--everyone is multiracial/ethnic in a variety of ways;

2-dichotimus thinking gets us no where (e.g. black/white)

then--we will not progress.

So, what do you do? What do you do?

Mar. 25 2010 11:12 AM
Gigi from New Brunswick, NJ

I am a Filipino and my husband is caucasian. It felt strange checking both caucasian and filipino boxes for my kids. I felt my kids are so different from me and my husband, that they are distinct from us. I guess they are, but checking the boxes made the difference crystal clear.

Mar. 25 2010 11:12 AM
Nick from NYC

US Department of Energy Human Genome Project announced that race does not exist. According to the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Human Genome Program:

"DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other."

Mar. 25 2010 11:11 AM

I dont understand why Philipinoes get the whole category of "Pacific Islander". Or does the category ALSO include Taiwanese and Japanese and Hawaiian?

Mar. 25 2010 11:11 AM
ASQ from New York

I couldn't find the box for Jewish/Pakistani or "Jew Pak". In censuses pre-War on Terror have Arabs been counted as white?

Mar. 25 2010 11:10 AM
Sebastian from Manhattan

A bit off topic (sorry). The news this morning reports that NYC is behind the nation in returning our forms. We haven't gotten our census form yet. My neighbor got his 2 days ago.

Mar. 25 2010 11:10 AM
Mike in Park Slope

My father is from the Azores so I wanted to put Azorian, Atlantian, or, my favorite, Euro-Atlantic Islander. But my wife filled it out so she just put white.

Mar. 25 2010 11:09 AM
TH from Brooklyn

We put "Ashkenazi, already!"

Mar. 25 2010 11:09 AM
hjs from 11211

I noticed they took of the ancestry question this time around. now I'm just white (what ever that means)instead a german-italian-irish :( should I write that in?

Mar. 25 2010 11:08 AM
Alexander from Manhattan

On question #9 I checked other and wrote in human.
I feel race should be replaced with ethnicity and allow for write-ins. What I'm more concerned with is how are these stats used to distribute federal funds, services, etc in my community of West Harlem / Morningside Heights.

Mar. 25 2010 11:07 AM
Chris from Yonkers

We filled this out last night and it was ridiculous!!

My wife's mother and father are from Costa Rica. Does that make her Costa Rican? She's never lived there and barely speaks Spanish. Furthermore, is she white, black or other? Latina is NOT a race.

Or, take my kids, they are half Costa Rican but you can't check a 'half' box. Are they Costa Rican, American, German / Irish / Italian?! It was really annoying.

Why not more important questions like what work you do? What country you were born in? Etc.

Mar. 25 2010 11:07 AM
SH from NY

Why is it you cannot check black Hispanic. DO they not know black people make up quite a percentage of the population in South and Central America Shameful. Hispanic is not a race is a culturally group or ethnicity!

Mar. 25 2010 11:02 AM from UWS

teahadist - new term describing unruly tea party members

Mar. 25 2010 11:02 AM

Why doesn't the form spell out 'African American"? It says "African Am." It's not like they didn't have room to write it all out.

Mar. 25 2010 10:57 AM
David from Bklyn

As a biologist, I don't think the categories used on the census map very well on what we know about human biological variation. How is the census bureau defining these categories? I'm rather tempted to answer that I'm African-American: since humans evolved in Africa, we're all African-Americans in that sense.

Mar. 25 2010 10:27 AM

I've heard that the census bureau counts the race and ethnicity of the household by the way "Person 1" answers those two questions. Any idea if this is true? If so, should "mixed ethnicity" families with children put more thought into which spouse is "Person 1"?

Mar. 25 2010 10:15 AM
antonio from park slope

Come on! The concept of race as we know it, is a TOTAL canard! But with the census and similar situations i.e. job apps on line etc. I check as much as I can!

Mar. 25 2010 10:04 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.