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 ‘ethnicity’

Adventures With the Race and Ethnicity Questions

Monday, May 24th, 2010

To all of the enumerators and other workers out there, let’s here your stories in the comments section about how people respond to the race and ethnicity questions…

2010 Census Questions for Cesar Conde, head of Univision Networks

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

The following interview is courtesy of the LA Times:

What does this year’s census mean to Latinos and Univision?

The 2010 census is going to go down in history as the census of the Latinos. We have the opportunity as a country to really embrace the fact that we are moving to a multiethnic society. That is one of the strengths of our country today. We as a company, and we as a community, are very excited by that.

How did the 2000 census change Univision’s business?

It helped us to begin to have more conversations with organizations that were starting to realize the role that this community would play across all aspects of our country — social, economic, political and cultural — through the coming years and decades.

Fast-forward to this coming census in 2010, and I think it’s going to be a big wake-up call. What will surprise people is the exponential growth of the Latino community, coming off of an already big and growing base. Second, we are going to begin to see growth in the Hispanic market in parts of our country that people don’t necessarily expect. To see the growth of the Latino population in Los Angeles, Miami and New York is wonderful but somewhat expected. You are going to see more growth in geographic pockets, places that people don’t intuitively think of as part of the Hispanic community.

How great is the fear that Spanish speakers and other immigrants might not recognize the importance of the census form?

This is why we have become so proactive in ensuring that we communicate to our community how important the census is. We have to communicate what is the benefit, what is the value, of filling out this census not only for themselves as individuals but also for their local communities, and our community. Univision is in a unique position because of our unique connection and relationship that we have with Hispanics.

How do you reassure people that filling out a government form will not invite problems?

Confidentiality is a big issue in the census. We tried to pick our most trustworthy talent on Univision to speak about the importance of this issue, putting our most trusted voices out there to become the face of the “Ya Es Hora” campaign.

[Univision news anchor] Maria Elena Salinas is our primary spokesperson. She and the others talk about why people can trust this process. We literally allocate material airtime to walk our audience by the hand through the process. We will be running this series of stories and public-service announcements through and past April 1 to address this concern and talk people through some of these issues that are, at the end of the day, important for them and beneficial for them.

Not only that, but an increasing Latino population benefits Univision.

Our mission here at Univision is to inform, entertain and empower. Most people can get their arms around the first two, informing and entertaining, because they are such a key part of what we do. That third one, empowerment, is sometimes a little more nebulous. This concept is that we need to make sure that we are working on the issues that most impact our community. We have this incredible privilege to have this leadership position and to have this unique relationship with our audience. And with that privilege comes a responsibility, one we take seriously.

2010 is a very big year for many Latinos and Univision. Which is more important: the World Cup or the census?

(Laughs.) It’s going to be telling Latinos how important it is to fill out the census during the World Cup.

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.

Iranian Americans urged to specify ethnicity in Census

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

We’ve written about the extensive (but controversial) outreach to encourage Latinos to participate in the 2010 Census — and now, Iranian Americans are also the target of outreach efforts.

According to the Los Angeles Times, this year’s outreach campaign is the first time Iranian Americans have been encouraged to specifically identify themselves as Iranians on their Census forms.

The protests that followed the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  are expected to help. Since the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, the LAT reports, Iranian Americans have been reluctant to identify themselves. But that’s changed since this summer:

“It has created a sea change in the way Americans view Iranians,” said Reza Aslan, author of “How to Win a Cosmic War,” who moved to the U.S. from Iran in 1979. “No doubt about it, it’s now cool to be Iranian.”

Some hailed it as a sort of coming out for Iranian Americans. The hope is that the effects of that change will be seen in the census count next year.

“It was a sort of boost or a shot in the arm,” [Census Bureau partnership specialist Nadia] Babayi said, because people were encouraged to say that they were Iranian. They weren’t hiding anymore.”

After the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, many Iranian Americans and expatriates chose to keep a low profile in what some saw as a hostile environment. The 1991 film “Not Without My Daughter” was blamed for helping to cast a negative light on Iranian men. Starring Sally Field, it depicted an American woman and her daughter fleeing Iran and an abusive husband. And in 2002, then-President Bush declared Iran a member of the “Axis of Evil.”

About 300,000 Iranians were counted in the 2000 Census, a figure thought to be highly underreported. The U.S. government classifies Iranians as “white” and some didn’t know they could specify in the “other” category that they were Iranian.