My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘Caribbean’

With no category of their own, Caribbeans need many boxes to ID race, ethnicity on US Census

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The following story comes to us from the LA Times/Associated Press and echoes sentiments that have been expressed on this site for nearly a year. It is completely unfair to the people of Caribbean nations that they have no box to tick off. This lack of options will surely create a mess in identifying the actual origins and backgrounds of some two million Americans:

Jean-Robert Lafortune

Jean-Robert Lafortune, chairman of the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition for Miami, poses for photos Friday,, Feb. 19, 2010 in Miami. He feels there should be more selections for Haitian Americans to identify themselves on the census forms other than Afro-American or Negro. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) (J Pat Carter, AP / February 19, 2010)

JENNIFER KAY Associated Press Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Identify yourself as being of “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin” on the 2010 U.S. Census questionnaire, and you will get to be more specific about your ancestry, such as Mexican-American, Cuban or Puerto Rican.

But check the box for “black, African-American or Negro” and there will be no place to show whether you trace your identity to the African continent, a Caribbean island or a pre-Civil War plantation.

Some Caribbean-American leaders are urging their communities to write their nationalities on the line under “some other race” on the forms arriving in mailboxes next month, along with checking the racial categories they feel identify them best.

It’s another step in the evolution of the Census, which has moved well beyond general categories like “black” and “white” to allow people to identify themselves as multi-racial, and, in some cases, by national origin.

The wording of the questions for race and ethnicity changes with almost every Census, making room for the people who say, “I don’t see how I fit in exactly,” Census Bureau director Robert Groves told reporters in December. “This will always keep changing in this country as it becomes more and more diverse.”

In another push tied to the 2010 Census, advocates are urging indigenous immigrants from Mexico and Central America to write in groups such as Maya, Nahua or Mixtec so the Census Bureau can tally them for the first time.

The campaign in the multiethnic Caribbean community reflects a tendency, born from multiple waves of migration, to establish identity first by country, then by race.

“We are completely undercounted because there isn’t an accurate way of self-identifying for people from the Caribbean,” said Felicia Persaud, chairwoman of CaribID 2010, a New York-based campaign to get a category on the census form for Caribbean-Americans or West Indians.

About 2.4 percent of the U.S. population — more than 6.8 million people — identified on the 2000 Census as belonging to two or more races. A little less than 1 percent of the population — more than 1.8 million people — wrote in their West Indian ancestry.

And about 874,000 people — or 0.3 percent of the population — ticked boxes for Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders that year. If those islanders could get their own categories on the form, Caribbean-American leaders say, why not their communities?

Their lobbying efforts led to a bill in Congress requiring a box to indicate Caribbean descent on the census form, but it did not pass.

New York awards grants for Census outreach

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Happy new year, everyone. It’s now Census year! We’ve valued all of your comments, e-mails and suggestions in 2009. Keep them coming in 2010.

To start off the new year, we have a funding announcement — and some disappointed groups — up in New York. The state is distributing $2 million in grants to community groups and local governments for census outreach, but the allocations are already under fire from at least one who group that applied for, but did not receive, funds.

According to a release from Gov. David Paterson’s office, grants were awarded in two categories. Funds for outreach and mobilization will help recipients distribute information, train community members to encourage census participation and help hard-to-count groups fill out the census form. Grants for media campaigns will fund census promotion in print, broadcast and online media.

Here’s a full list of groups and local governments that received funding:

Outreach and mobilization grants

  • Asian American Federation
  • CAMBA, Inc.
  • Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce
  • Centro Cultural Hispano de Oyster Bay, East Norwich
  • Chinese-American Planning Council
  • Citizens Advice Bureau, Inc.
  • City of Albany, Vital Statistics
  • City of Buffalo
  • City of New Rochelle
  • City of Syracuse, Department of Community Development
  • City of Rochester
  • City of White Plains
  • City of Yonkers
  • Council of Peoples Organization
  • County of St. Lawrence
  • Emerald Isle Immigration Center
  • Hagedorn Foundation
  • Hispanic Federation
  • Make the Road New York
  • Medgar Evers College (CUNY) Center for Law and Social Justice
  • The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
  • NYS Association of Regional Councils
  • Sesame Flyers International, Inc.

Media Campaign Grants

  • Asian American Federation
  • Asian Americans for Equality
  • City of Buffalo
  • City of Rochester
  • Hagedorn Foundation
  • Hispanic Federation
  • New York Immigration Coalition
  • Voto Latin

But one group not on those lists was quick to issue a statement criticizing the allocations yesterday. CaribID2010, which is advocating for the Census Bureau to add a Caribbean-American or West Indian category to census forms, says it deserved a grant due to its record of partnerships with media, churches and other groups to educate Caribbean Americans about the census.

CaribID2010 also criticized the state for not awarding a media grant to a Caribbean-focused group. Felicia Persaud, the group’s founder, called the decision “an insult and an outrage” in the statement.

Readers, where else have state grants been awarded? And what has the reaction been?

Editorial: For most accurate 2010 Census, use as many nationalities as possible

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

After weeks of discussion that Caribbean Americans and the legislators who vouch for them are seeking to create a new “Caribbean” category on the 2010 Census form, another group has come out of the woodwork to seek space to display their own unique identity: Dominicans.

According to the Dominican Today newspaper, “Dominican residents in the United States launched a nationwide campaign to be included in the 2010 Census, under the auspices of the Dominican Round Table in
which several organizations, elected and government officials take part.

The campaign was announced in a gathering in the Bronx’s San Nicolas Tolentino church, in which City Council and State Assembly members spoke about the initiative.

The strategy seeks to prevent what took place in 2000, when Dominican residents in the U.S. were excluded from the boxes regarding ethnicity of that country’s census. If excluded, Dominican community organizations wouldn’t receive the funds necessary to sustain their social programs.

The campaign “One plus One” also includes Puerto Rico, where several hundred thousand Dominican nationals also reside and demands that the Federal Census Bureau include a box specifying the word “Dominican,” which didn’t figure in the previous census.”

MyTwoCensus wholeheartedly agrees that an “accurate” count means getting as much specific information as possible. We feel that the government should want to know the specific makeup of its people because this knowledge will serve many purposes down the road. For example, knowing the ethnic/national composition of people in a specific area would make it easier and more cost efficient to arrange social services and other benefits for more highly targeted groups of people.

And for the many Americans who identify with more than one ethnic background, people can check off a box for each nationality/ethnicity that represents them.

Since filling out the 2010 Census form is required by law, MyTwoCensus sees many benefits to making this portion of the survey more comprehensive.  We don’t believe that sharing additional background information infringes on any individuals’ right to privacy.

Though the 2010 Census is just around the corner, there is still time to improve the paper forms before they are printed. We urge Robert Groves and the U.S. Congress to prioritize this issue and not let petty political bickering stand in the way of taking action to create a form for the 2010 headcount that maximizes the amount of relevant information that it can gather in its 10 short questions.

Editorial: Those hard to count Jews…not!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

censusfloatisraelparade

Last week, MyTwoCensus criticized the Census Bureau’s lack of a parade float in San Francisco’s annual Carnaval parade, a celebration of Central American, South American, and Caribbean cultures. Thanks to the above photo, submitted to us by Sharon Udasin, ace New York-based reporter for The Jewish Week, MyTwoCensus now knows that the Census Bureau does in fact have the resources and capabilities to create such a float.  The float depicted above was paraded through the streets of Manhattan during yesterday’s Salute to Israel parade, a celebration of 61 years of Israeli independence.

Whereas many Latino/a immigrants are considered “hard to reach” because of their questionable legal status in America, this isn’t a problem amongst the Jewish and Israeli communities in New York. Even though New York’s thousands of Hasidic Jews (mostly living in Brooklyn) may speak Yiddish in their homes, nearly all of them speak fluent English and are citizens of the United States.

This begs the question: Why did the Census Bureau choose to sponsor a large float in the Israeli Independence Day parade in New York but not at the Carnaval parade in San Francisco?

To our readers: If you have been to any public events that have featured public relations efforts by the Census Bureau, please feel free to comment and share with us what you witnessed.

Update on the “Caribbean” category on the 2010 Census form

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

This just came into our inbox:

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CONGRESSWOMAN YVETTE D. CLARKE

REPRESENTING NEW YORK’S 11th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 19, 2009

Contact: Ronnie Sykes: 347.213.1533

Rep. Clarke’s Caribbean Count Bill Garners Support from New York Senators

Checkbox would better represent diversity, encourage higher census participation in the Caribbean community, and help to achieve a more accurate count in the 2010 Census

Washington, DC— Today, Senators Charles Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand proposed a Companion Bill to Rep. Yvette D. Clarke’s Caribbean Count Bill (H.R. 2071), an historic bill that calls for Caribbean nationals to have their own origins check box on the U.S. Census form.  The Bill requires that all questionnaires used in the taking of any decennial census of the U.S. population, to include a checkbox or a similar option be included so that respondents may indicate Caribbean extraction or descent.

“I want to commend Senators Gillibrand and Schumer for demonstrating great leadership by introducing the Senate companion to HR 2071: Caribbean Count Bill,” said Rep. Yvette D. Clarke.   “Census Day is less than a year away, and it is imperative that every household participate in order to ensure an accurate count.  Data generated by the Census is used to help equitably distribute federal funding from a wide range of government sources. A higher response rate from the Caribbean immigrant community would help ensure that more public resources are available to all New Yorkers.”

Clarke continued, “the bill does not call for an additional race category, but rather a self-identifying ancestry category/national origin in order to get a more accurate count of people of Caribbean descent living in the United States.”

“New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world and must be fully represented in the census,” Schumer said. “Including this checkbox would surely provide better representation of our great city and its Caribbean American population. New Yorkers of Caribbean descents are an essential part of the New York City population and they deserve to be accurately counted.”

“It’s time to make sure all New Yorkers are counted fairly and accurately in the census,” Senator Gillibrand said. “New York’s Caribbean community contributes so much to our economy, our diverse culture and the way of the life that makes New York the great state it is. By failing to recognize Caribbean families in our census data, we are failing to obtain a true picture of the people, families and communities that make up New York and all of America. It’s time to make this important change.”

The Companion bill proposed by Schumer and Gillibrand states that in conducting the 2010 decennial census and every decennial census thereafter, the Secretary of Commerce shall include, in any questionnaire distributed or otherwise used for the purpose of determining the total population by states, a checkbox or other similar option by which respondents may indicate Caribbean extraction or descent.

###

H.R. 2071- Caribbean Count Bill

This bill requires that a checkbox or other similar option be included so that respondents may indicate Caribbean extraction or descent in the questionnaires used in the taking of any decennial census of population.

This bill is important to the District because:

· It draws attention to the significance of the 2010 U.S. census to the Caribbean community, which because of cultural sensitivities and other factors can sometimes be reluctant to complete the forms.

· Census Day is less than a year away, and it is imperative that every household participate in order to ensure an accurate count.

· Today, data generated by the census is used not only to determine voter representation, but also to help equitably distribute federal funding from a wide range of government programs.

· Census data is an invaluable resource to private industry, helping businesses make sensible decisions about how and where to expand their capital.  An accurate count of the Caribbean community will highlight their purchasing power and economic impact both in the U.S. and global markets.

Inside the 2010 Census form: Question #8 and Charlie Rangel

Monday, May 18th, 2009

June Kronholtz, who covers the 2010 Census for The Wall Street Journal, just reported on long-term Rep. Charlie Rangel’s latest wrangling (okay, it’s Monday, we want to be funny and use puns to keep you on your toes):

Race and ethnicity already are complicated questions in the decennial census. Now, Rep. Charles Rangel and a fellow New York Democrat want to make them even more complex.

Question 8 in the 2010 census form asks if the person being counted is “of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” and, if so, from where. That person has a choice of four check boxes:
–Yes, he or she is Mexican, Mexican American or Chicano
–Yes, he or she is Puerto Rican
–Yes, he or she is Cuban or
–Yes, he or she is “another,” and is asked to fill in a blank.

The form offers the prompt: “for example, Argentinean, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard, and so on.”

Rangel, who represents a district with a big Dominican population, has introduced HR 1504 that would require the Census Bureau to offer a separate check box for Dominican-Americans. Similarly, Rep. Yvette Clark (D., N.Y.), who is Caribbean-American, has introduced HR 2071 that would require a check box for “Caribbean extraction or descent.”

The 2010 census forms already have gone to the printer, so there’s no chance of a change this time around. But Terri Ann Lowenthal, who writes a census newsletter, says both bills are likely to figure into the discussion about the 2020 form.

Census drafters talk about the limited “real estate” on the decennial form—they want to keep it to one page and 10 questions in order to assure most people answer it.

But ethnic and racial interest groups regularly lobby for inclusion. Question 9 on the 2010 census asks for the race of the person being counted, and then gives the option of nine Asian groups, plus a fill-in blank for anyone not already covered; a check box for native Americans and a fill-in blank for the name of their tribe; a fill-in blank for “some other race;” a check box for “black, African Am., or Negro” and a check box for “white.”

Groups representing Caribbean blacks, African immigrants and Arab-Americans already are asking for check boxes of their own in the 2020 census, says Lowenthal.

The Census Bureau doesn’t ask anyone except Asians and Hispanics about their nationality or ancestry on the decennial census. For everyone else–the one-quarter Italian, half-Czech, one-quarter Scot–that question is left to the American Community Survey, a household sampling that the bureau conducts yearly.

Update: Caribbean Census Bill Not A Race Category

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Early this morning, we wrote that Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) has proposed legislation to create a new race category, Caribbean, as part of the 2010 Census. MyTwoCensus is the first organization to share with the public the official message CaribID, the organization that has lobbied for this legislation. In the wake of the initial Caribbean race category story, the new press release clarifies the facts and myths regarding what is being sought by this group and its supporters. Here’s the nitty-gritty:


CaribPR Newswire, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. April 28, 2009: The Caribbean Census bill introduced in the Congress by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke on April 23rd is not a push for a race category but one for an accurate self-identifying ancestry category, CaribID official insisted Monday.

The clarification comes in response to a number of media reports that erroneously reported that the bill is a call for a race category and therefore is a move to divide some ethnic groupings, particularly the African American or black bloc.

CaribID founder, Felicia Persaud, insisted that the bill is to enable Caribbean nationals, who are of varied races, cultures and identities across the 26 countries in the Caribbean region to not only tick their race group on the Census forms, but like Hispanics, be able to tick their ancestry as well.

A new race: Caribbean

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Will “Caribbean” become an official ethnic group on the 2010 Census form? It seems late in the game for this issue to spring up, but only time will tell…Here’s the story from Caribbean Net News:

NEW YORK, USA – An historic bill that calls for Caribbean nationals to have their own origins category on the US Census form has been introduced by Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of New York’s 11th congressional district in the US House of Representatives.

The Intellectual Elite news reported that the Clarke bill calls for all questionnaires used in the taking of a decennial census of the US population to include a check box or other similar option so that respondents may indicate Caribbean extraction or descent.

“In conducting the 2010 decennial census and every decennial census thereafter, the Secretary of Commerce shall include, in any questionnaire distributed or otherwise used for the purpose of determining the total population by states, a check box or other similar option by which respondents may indicate Caribbean extraction or descent,” states the bill.

Clarke said, as a daughter of Caribbean immigrants herself, she is especially proud of the measure and sees it as a great accomplishment.

Clarke was part of the Congressional delegation that went with President Obama to the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain Trinidad.

She is the daughter of successful Jamaican immigrants. Her mother, Una Clarke, was the first Caribbean national elected to the New York City Council.