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 ‘multiracial’

The Census Bureau’s options for the 2010 Census form were inadequate

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

As the Associated Press has demonstrated, more than 1 in 14 Americans (21.7 million people) had to hand-write their race into the low-tech census form because the choices on the Census Bureau’s form weren’t adequate to cover America’s growing and diversifying population.

“More than 21.7 million — at least 1 in 14 — went beyond the standard labels and wrote in such terms as ‘Arab,’ ”Haitian,’ ”Mexican,’ and ‘multiracial.’”

First biracial president? Nope! First black president? Yes!

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Though MyTwoCensus would have classified President Obama as biracial, he views himself as “black” and his kids as “black” too. The following confirmation to our inquiries was first reported by the New York Times:

It is official: Barack Obama is the nation’s first black president.

A White House spokesman confirmed that Mr. Obama, the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, checked African-American on the 2010 census questionnaire.

The president, who was born in Hawaii and raised there and in Indonesia, had more than a dozen options in responding to Question 9, about race. He chose “Black, African Am., or Negro.” (The anachronistic “Negro” was retained on the 2010 form because the Census Bureau believes that some older blacks still refer to themselves that way.)

Mr. Obama could have checked white, checked both black and white, or checked the last category on the form, “some other race,” which he would then have been asked to identify in writing.

There is no category specifically for mixed race or biracial.

Instructions for the census’s American Community Survey, which poses the question in the same way as the 2010 form, say that “people may choose to provide two or more races either by marking two or more race response boxes, by providing multiple write-in responses, or by some combination of marking boxes and writing in responses.”

In the 2000 census, when Americans first were allowed to check more than one box for race, about 6.8 million people reported being of two or more races.

Spot.us & MyTwoCensus.com Team Up…

Friday, March 19th, 2010

As an independent journalist, I am aware of how difficult it can be to earn money from reporting, as newspapers and magazines continue to hit new financial lows. Fortunately, sites like Spot.us are using innovative methods to finance journalism. I recently volunteered as a peer review editor to assist journalist Denise Poon who is writing stories about the 2010 Census for Spot.us. The following two stories, about multi-racial reporting and hard-to-count communities in California, are the the products of this collaboration:

The Census on Multiracial IDs

The Census Search for Hard To Count Communities

The Multiracial Debate

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

H/t to the Chicago Tribune for producing a lengthy piece of journalism:

By Oscar Avila, Dahleen Glanton,

Look in the mirror and what do you see?

When the census form arrives in mailboxes this week, the complex answers to that question will help paint America’s evolving portrait, with repercussions for a decade and beyond.

For most people, the census will be a simple 10-minute process. For others in this nation of Barack Obama, Jessica Alba, Tiger Woods, Halle Berry, Apolo Ohno and Joakim Noah , questions of mixed race and ethnicity will prompt soul-searching over how to categorize themselves among a small but growing minority in the national fabric.

The census is a montage of self-portraits that will detail the ways a nation of nearly 309 million has changed since 2000, including migration, family size and housing patterns. While that data is easier to quantify, critics say a rote list of boxes and checkmarks can’t adequately reflect all the racial and ethnic transformations.

On Chicago’s South Side, the daughter of a black father and white mother will check both. Her brother will check black. Their children will write in “mixed” or “biracial.”

A Brazilian immigrant will mark a box that says Hispanic, though she doesn’t accept the label. A woman from Jordan won’t check Asian, though she is. A man born to a Japanese mother and white father considers himself white only at census time.

Another respondent may check four racial boxes like the multi-ethnic Woods, who invented his own identifier: “cablinasian,” a mix of Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian. Obama jokingly labeled himself a “mutt,” but he won’t find that box on the form.

Some bemoan the absence of a separate “multiracial” box to check. And beyond race and ethnicity, the form won’t account for the principal factor by which many Americans identify themselves: There is no category for sexual orientation, so some gay activists plan to protest by affixing pink stickers on the envelope.

“The lesson is that, like reality, like our lives, census data are messy,” said Jorge Chapa, a University of Illinois professor who has consulted for the Census Bureau. “But the messiness does reflect the growing diversity and our complexity as a people. It’s closer to the truth.”

Over the years, the census form has changed to reflect racial realities. A historic switch for the 2000 census allowed Americans to click more than one category, meaning that the son of a Kenyan father and a white woman from Kansas can now officially be both races. About 6.8 million Americans, 2.4 percent of the population, checked more than one racial box.

A Brookings Institution survey has shown a doubling of mixed-race marriages over the last two decades. A Pew Research Center report last month documented that younger generations were far more tolerant of racial mixing than their elders.

People who mark more than one race box are not counted more than once in the overall population tally. But they would add one additional person to each racial category they choose.

Susan Graham, executive director of California-based Project RACE, which advocates for multiracial families, said a hodgepodge of individual boxes is not sufficient to describe her children. She is white and was married to an African-American, and their children have a singular identity as multiracial American.

“The term ‘multiracial,’ we believe, is important and should be on the form. Words are important,” Graham said.

Researchers have found that people’s self-identities can be fluid: Over the course of their lives, they can more strongly identify with various parts of their ancestry at different times.

Kenneth Prewitt, who directed the 2000 census, said some civil-rights groups have resisted the concept of checking more than one race out of fear that it will dilute their influence.

Prewitt said the “Hispanic” term, one used mainly in the U.S., is especially confusing. The term, which the Census Bureau first used in 1980, describes an ethnicity pertaining to Spain but can include white, black and other races. He would include one catch-all category merging Hispanics with other race identifiers, or eliminate all boxes and have everyone write in their preferred identities.

(to continue reading this article click HERE)