The U.S. Census Bureau says “Local, state, tribal, and federal programs use these data, and they are critical factors in the basic research behind numerous policies, particularly for civil rights. Race data are used in planning and funding government programs that provide funds or services for specific groups. These data are also used to evaluate government programs and policies to ensure that they fairly and equitably serve the needs of all racial groups and to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination laws, regulations, and policies.” Read more about how data on race is used here.
However, as the Science Museum exhibit notes, the way the question is worded on the Census is confusing and inconsistent, sometimes using skin color and sometimes tribal or national identities as categories. The questions on Hispanic (sic) identity is confusing and leaves many unsure how to answer.
What do you think? Should the Census continue to ask about race? If so, should the current question remain as is? What do you think? Find the question on Hispanic (sic) identity and the question on race below.
Or should the question be simplified, with just six broad categories asking about population group rather than race, and alphabetized, so ‘white’ is not privileged at the top? Alternatively, should people be given the option of filling in a blank to give their own self-identity? Or should the question be eliminated altogether?
Please post your comments below and we will share them in our next e-newsletter.
For more information on the history of the race on the Census, see: Smithsonian Magazine, “How the U.S. Census Defines Race” By Erin Blakemore, Nov. 9, 2015.