Streams

Baratunde's America: The Census

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May's weekly guest is Baratunde Thurston - comedian, politics watcher, and web editor for The OnionHe offers his take on the latest news, the media world, and American identity in 2010. This week: The Census

Guests:

Baratunde Thurston
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [18]

peppie from Brooklyn, NY

Sorry if I sent my BP comment, re BP's PR firm to wrong conversation.

PLEASE do not publish my REAL NAME -- put Peppie -- You put "required field" but should note that it will be published, right ON THAT field's label that your name will be displayed. We might be in a hurry and not have time to read the fine print in the info box above

Aug. 04 2010 11:56 AM
Stephanie Vevers from Brooklyn

BP has already hired a very expensive firm to improve its PR, and it shows.

Every news outlet is talking about BP's current "efforts" with a happy voice.
Even NPR correspondants do this.
Wait a minute.

What about the unanswered questions?
--dispersants
--why didn't they put a good cap on much sooner?
--BP was drilling the "relief wells" in order to be able to pull a quick change and extract that "product" -- now they finally have decided to forego that -- probably due to their new PR firm.
--How much money would they have made from all the oil and other "product" if the Macondo well had not burst?
--Where's the shame for all the horrible shortcomings that preceded this spill? BP is brushing it off all too easily. And they are one of the worst offenders in the industry.

Aug. 04 2010 11:51 AM
The Truth from Becky

I think MichelleJH from Queens has that sickness shared among many hispanics that crave to be identified as white I have never understood why, nothing to be proud of being dutch euro either, and Alexander from NY you too, you both seem offended to be spanish speaking individuals from spanish origin.

May. 13 2010 11:55 AM
Alexander from New York City

In reference to "Hispanic" I have never agreed with the use of this word. To categorize all people who come from Spanish speaking countries as Hispanic is basically making it seem as if this is our race. There is no race of Hispanics. Our backgrounds stem from different countries, different cultures and the forms of Spanish spoken from country to country varies as well. We should be asked what specific race we are or what we identify with and not be put into one group to make it easier for government organizations. I have always taking offense by the word Hispanic because it's not a race I belong to or that I can identify with and was never asked if this how I want to be labeled as a person of Latin origins. I do not ever list myself as Hispanic on any applications or forms and never will.

May. 13 2010 11:18 AM

Stephanie
i too have used the census for genealogical research. sad to say though every year the census has less and less real info so our greatgrand children won't have the same option.

May. 13 2010 11:07 AM
michelleJH from Queens

This is in response to a Census worker / caller today who has met with "surprised" members of the Spanish-speaking community. As a "Latina" and an Anglo-American (South American and British/Dutch roots) I was really pleased with the Census race and ethnicity categories this year! In recent years I have been so disappointed by how government and educational forms have restricted me from marking "white" because of my Spanish-speaking heritage - it completely discounts my English-speaking heritage and I feel that is also a form of discrimination. (For example, if you apply for a job with New York's Dept of Ed you absolutely cannot be "white" or "other" if you have a "drop" of Hispanic... I also applied for a home loan recently and there were government questions asking if I had any Hispanic heritage... there is just something creepy and invasive about that... )

May. 13 2010 11:05 AM

It takes a short while to make people understand what the Census is about, but once you do, people become very cooperative - Especially when you point out that the Census comes knocking on your door at most once a decade, whereas the IRS, NYPD, or less-pleasant organizations could come knocking tomorrow.

With respect to the race question, the policy is to write down whatever the individual self-identifies himself/herself as. If a respondent insists that he/she is Hispanic, you don't argue: write down "Hispanic" in spite of what the form instructions say.

Finally, I'd like to remind my fellow Census enumerators to preserve the privacy and confidentiality of the respondents. There may be many interesting stories from our work, but do not violate Title XIII!

May. 13 2010 11:03 AM

Becky
any guilt that your "experiment" cost the country $49.50?

May. 13 2010 11:02 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Caucasian is correct? All white people are former inhabitants of the Caucasus region?
What about Europoid?

May. 13 2010 11:00 AM
Stephanie from NJ

Thank goodness for the Census. I've recently been working my paternal grandfather's geneaology and I would not have found any ancestors without it. What a great tool for research and the information is enlightening!

May. 13 2010 10:58 AM
Kathleen from manhattan

I love that the only negative comment is about the 'white guy'. I guess we're allowed to be prejudiced against those in assumed power.

May. 13 2010 10:58 AM
anne

Why did the person slash the tires of the census worker? What a question! What was the anger about? Why validate the tire-slashing of a census worker's car with such a question?! Gee whiz.
I'm guessing that people slash tires because they're unable to express themselves in other ways. And that's about the most civil way I can comment on tire slashing.

May. 13 2010 10:58 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

“The fact that government is nosing into their business…. Asking about their income” What!?!? Nosing in who’s business? Half the questions are redundant centering around the number of people in the household, their ages, and race. Have you read the Census form? Obviously not. It’s asking barely more than the same information on a US passport or state driver’s license. Both of which have a photo which goes to race.
Your performance today is pathetic.

May. 13 2010 10:55 AM
Zahara from Hoboken

I have seen a lovely census girl twice in my building in Union City trying to talk to people who refuse to talk to her. Last night, I tried to assist her to get a neighbor’s name, unfortunately I had forgotten the neighbor’s name but give her the number of people I see coming and going out of the apartment.

May. 13 2010 10:55 AM
jen from NY

A census worker came to the house. I mailed my form in on time, but he said he would still like me to answer the questions. I was a tad annoyed that I had to do it over. He was immediately SUPER defensive and SUPER upset that I was looking for his ID. I wasn't mean or anything, I was bringing in groceries but I stopped, sat down on the porch and gave him the time, but his atitude reminded me of DMV or postal workers who LOVE to get folks angry because they are bored and hate their jobs. PS Where is the biracial option?

May. 13 2010 10:53 AM

got no form and no visit yet.

May. 13 2010 10:49 AM
The Truth from Becky

I purposely did not mail mine in to see if I would get a visit and I did. I missed the person the first time and they left a notice so I called her back and gave her the information. She was very professional but nice polite and courteous.

May. 13 2010 10:47 AM
GS

I sent my census form in and they still came to my door and made me answer questions.

May. 13 2010 10:46 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.