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  • Census 2010 - The American Race

    Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies and I have been talking on at NRO’s The Corner about the Census form and the particularly obnoxious Question 9 asking the person’s “race.” Mark sent his form in after marking the option for “Some other race” and writing in “American” and he had a column in USA Today about it. As I pointed out, federal law specifies that you can be fined if you either don’t answer ($100 per question) or provide a false answer ($500 per question). So the question arises whether Mark’s answer could get him in trouble.

    There is no question that the bureaucrats at the Census Bureau will not like that answer. It is likely that one of their temporary workers will call Mark or actually pay a visit to his residence if they cannot get hold of him or he refuses to change his answer on the phone. If they still can’t get the kind of answer they want, they apparently will just impute his race based on what he looks like or where he lives – a practice that means the Census will be filled with questionable, inaccurate data. It is also highly-offensive racial stereotyping and profiling in a society where so many of us are of mixed race and ancestry. In a report it issued on the 2010 Census, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recommended that the race question be made voluntary like religious affiliation questions (see 13 U.S.C. § 221(c)) and that individuals be able to provide whatever answer they think is most appropriate for their race, ethnicity or ancestry.

    Under current law, the real question that arises is whether the Census Bureau could win a case against someone it decides to prosecute for answering “American.” This is a very interesting issue and it may be one the Bureau really does not want to face in court. Why? Because their question on race and the choices provided is a conglomeration of political correctness and half-baked, liberal social policy theories and assumptions that have absolutely nothing to do with hard science, biology and genetics.

    For example, the question asks for your race, yet it then gives you a number of choices like Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese that are nationalities based on ancestry, not racial categories. Or they are geographically-based terms – one of the choices is “Guamanian or Chamorro,” terms that refer to the residents of the Mariana Islands, which includes the American territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island in Micronesia. Question 8 on the Census form, which asks whether a person is “of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin,” even uses totally made-up terms like “Chicano,” which has no scientifically-based meaning. It is just an ethnic label that became popular in the 1960’s as part of the radical Chicano movement.

    The Encyclopedia Britannica says that scientists do not agree on the number of races that exist, nor “the features to be used in the identification of races, or the meaning of race itself…Thus, race has never in the history of its use had a precise meaning…[and] modern researchers have concluded that the concept of race has no biological validity.” So if your official choice on the form includes different kinds of nationalities in the answer to Question 9, then one could try to convince a judge that being “American” is just as valid a choice of nationalities. This is particularly true since the Census relies on self-identification.

    Most people have no idea what their real “race” is since that would require genetic research and tracking back your ancestors through many generations. If I look white but have a great-great-great-grandmother who was an American Indian, can the Census Bureau contest my marking the American Indian category? If I have ancestors that were white, black, and American Indian, what am I supposed to choose? “American” seems the best way to describe the polyglot background that so many of us have. Or is the Census Bureau going to analyze how many drops of my blood are traceable to a particular racial or ethnic category the way Southern states did during Jim Crow?

    There may have been a reason to collect racial information in 1850 when many nonwhites were only counted as 3/5’s of a person for reapportionment and tax purposes, but it is questionable whether the data should be collected today. On the one hand, there is no doubt the racial information will be used for pernicious reasons during redistricting and the distribution of federal largesse. On the other hand, it can also be used as evidence to combat those who claim that this nation has made no racial progress over the past 40 years, a claim that is completely untrue. As with a lot of things, it is a very mixed bag of bad and good. But I agree with Ward Connerly when he testified before the Commission on Civil Rights that classifying and subdividing Americans is “repugnant, ‘inhuman’ to use the characterization of Nelson Mandela, and socially regressive for a nation that proclaims as its creed ‘one nation, indivisible.’”

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    38 Responses to Census 2010 - The American Race

    1. Ric, Buffalo,NY says:

      I guess your friend and I will be in court together; I too listed my "race" as American. I am second generation American so maybe I'll sneak by?

    2. Karla, Virginia says:

      It states on the form that "Your answers cannot be used in court." Can they then prosecute you based on those answers? I'd like to know!

    3. Beth Donovan, Easton says:

      So, what would they do if I write down – The Human Race?

    4. Mike, New York says:

      The constitution requires counting, not classifying people. I would like to think that one not choosing to participate in the governments racial bias would prevail. Isn't interesting that it appears to only want to know races that affect skin color? If you are Italian, Irish, English, etc., they just lump them under white. That should be insulting to everyone.

    5. Ross, Kentucky says:

      Officially, census data are based on how individuals self-identify themselves.

      Answering "American" for question 9 is acceptable, if that is how you self-identify.

      I would know. I am working for the Census this year!

    6. Steven Russell Centr says:

      I guess I'm in trouble. I answered the question "Human" race. See more of my comments @ http://www.KeepingAmericaFree.com

    7. John, KS says:

      I also put American, but mostly because I resent being considered just "White" as my race. My family is German on my fathers side and a mix of German, French, and Cheroke on my mother's side. I look white in the winter and brown in the summer, so I guess I'm only white during a certain season. If they want my skin color, then they should have stated such.

      • cyberob856 says:

        Exactly! According to my lineage, my family immigrated to The New World in the mid 1700's and never left. We stayed through the Revolution and were here for the founding of our current nation. On that basis alone I consider myself nothing more than an American!

    8. BZeller, Rocky Mtn. says:

      I put "Human American." How more specific can that be?

    9. Mike, Virginia says:

      I just received my Census questionnaire, why do they need my date of birth, not my age, but my full date of birth? Will there be any repercussions to my refusal to provide this information? I'll give them my age or year of birth.

      I too will list my race as American, maybe a Southern American. By the way, they ask for those living in the home as of April 1, 2010 therefore I will have to wait until after the first of the month to reply.

    10. Lawrence Martin, NC says:

      This question about race in the Census questionaire is offensive on so many levels, ultimately so imprecise as to be laughable as your article has pointed out. My favorite for so long has been the concept of a 'Continent-American'. Am I a Euro-American ? or an Australo-American ? Another is the incredibly mislabeled 'Hispanic'; Would this label be appropriate for someone whose roots are from Spain ? Who knows !?

      The bottom line is that an answer that has no real meaning can be interpreted by nefarious parties just about any way THEY MAY DEEM appropriate.

      May the parties responsible for these kind of questions burn-in-hell and may we throw them out of their cushy offices in short order (November 2, 2010)

    11. Ann, Texas says:

      What would Mr. Obama put as race? He's half black and half white.

    12. parker55 Charleston, says:

      I too answered Human race. Are we not post racial America?

    13. Billie says:

      I gave no names. I listed the years of birth but not month or day. I listed the appropriate sexes. why is it 7-12 only have to answer 3 questions? That's discrimination! How is it Hispanic origin specified as not a race, but without specification, white is? I gave human as our race.

      In America there should be no identification of "race" of human life if what is expected of all is equal under civil law.

    14. Billie says:

      Another thing I found interestingly suspicious, is that the census is in English only?

      hmm…

    15. Mark, New York says:

      What about "Redneck American"? People of all races don't mind throwing the term "Redneck" around whether it being in good way or bad. Many consider themeselves and are quite proud of being a "Redneck American". I wonder if anyone answered "Redneck American?

    16. Joseph Weathers, Alp says:

      I totally agree! As soon as I heard Rush Limbaugh mention it on his show, I started putting together a website called CheckAmerican.org as a national campaign to encourage citizens to send the message that we are tired of being classified as hyphenated Americans. Our goal is to get 100,000 people to pledge to write in "American" as their race on the Census form next week. Thought your readers would be interested.

    17. Tay, Colorado says:

      Ah, the US Senseless.

      I've been researching my ancestry and have found that in a number of censuses around 1900 my ancestors, American Indian, marked themselves as white. This was done to avoid persecution by the whites. I plan on submitting copies of these censuses in my return and requiring them to rectify their records.

      The race question is in there because the US government is racist. It was born racist and it will die racist. It knows no other way.

    18. Jill, California says:

      I was under the impression that the only question that is constitutionally required is the first one (the one asking how many people live in the household). So I plan to answer all of the others with "Objection: Unconstitutional."

    19. Billie says:

      In America, as all are expected to be treated equally under civil law, there should be no recognition of race, but human. A person's country of origin should be considered nationality, not race. And for what purpose in America, is "race" a necessity to reveal? Preferential treatment of some sorts? Discrimination of some sorts? Hand outs based on appearance not lack of ability? It's unconstitutional.

    20. Kari, Minnesota says:

      The part of the article that is most concerning is that if we answer American, or Human, or whatever, the Census Bureau may just determine our race for us. Is it an understatement to assume this determination will favor the results this administration is looking for? Perhaps they'll be pleased with answers such as these.

    21. Pingback: 2010 Census…Answering the Race Question « Caleb Posner's Blog

    22. Kathy, Ohio says:

      It is stated that all Census questions must be answered honestly and you can be fined for fraudulent answers. If I write in" American" in the race box and the

      Censu Bureau changes(tampers with) it to whatever they choose then did they just commit fraud? Can I get a copy of my report to see if such tampering was done and do I have recourse?

    23. Mickey says:

      Foolish, foolish, foolish.

      Most readers here are white. By not admitting to what you are, you have decreased the white proportion of the population and increased other groups' proportions. Those other groups are not about to give up the benefits they as non-whites have — as group members — today. By increasing their proportion of the population, you have helped ensure not only that those benefits continue, but expand.

      Aside from that, the country was founded on race — and even without the slavery issue probably still would have been. That is simply a fact. Our Founders were pretty smart, they realized that people who were phenotypically different tended to come into conflict with one another. They structured the US accordingly.

    24. Jo, MO says:

      I put Human Race, then lay awake at night thinking there way to get back at you is to turn you over to one of there many New IRS agents there going to hirer

    25. Jim, Florida says:

      I checked white. It is not that big of a deal. I could not care less if the government knows this information. Besides, private industry knows much much more about me than the government ever will. When I will start worrying is when the government stops collecting this data and just buys the data mining databases that have been created by companies like Facebook and my credit card company. They know far far more about me than the government ever will.

    26. Mara says:

      Recently, I found the 2010 Census form hanging on my door. As I began filling it out, I came across a dilemma. The U.S. government wants to know if my children are adopted or not and it wants to know what our races are. Being adopted myself, I had to put “Other” and “Don’t Know Adopted” for my race and “Other” and “Don’t Know” for my kids’ races.

      Can you imagine not knowing your ethnicity, your race? Now imagine walking into a vital records office and asking the clerk for your original birth certificate only to be told “No, you can’t have it, it’s sealed.”

      How about being presented with a “family history form” to fill out at every single doctor’s office visit and having to put “N/A Adopted” where life saving information should be?

      Imagine being asked what your nationality is and having to respond with “I don’t know”.

      It is time that the archaic practice of sealing and altering birth certificates of adopted persons stops.

      Adoption is a 5 billion dollar, unregulated industry that profits from the sale and redistribution of children. It turns children into chattel who are re-labeled and sold as “blank slates”.

      Genealogy, a modern-day fascination, cannot be enjoyed by adopted persons with sealed identities. Family trees are exclusive to the non-adopted persons in our society.

      If adoption is truly to return to what is best for a child, then the rights of children to their biological identities should NEVER be violated. Every single judge that finalizes an adoption and orders a child’s birth certificate to be sealed should be ashamed of him/herself.

      I challenge all readers: Ask the adopted persons that you know if their original birth certificates are sealed.

    27. savannah, TX says:

      I feel that dwelling on race is not a major issue and people should not be so sensitive about it… I do feel, however, that if the government has not grown mentally to overcome their, for lack of a better term, "obsession" with race/skin color then we can help them to overcome it. But we need to do it in a way that does not insult or hurt them. People dwell on race/skin color because of the environment and culture that they grew up around. We should teach them to think about all things in a different perspective and to be more open minded but they will only reject our help if we insult or hurt them. We need to be constructive and analytical, not critical….

    28. DOJ Prosecutor says:

      I also put "American" under "Other" on the form. I agree, it is none of their business. I am kind of looking forward to the argument about this when/if they call. On a final note… I would be extremely surprised if anyone was prosecuted, or if any cases were referred for prosecution. I am confident that there will be tens of thousands who simply will not turned it in, and a large part of America will refuse to not participate. I actually like the census itself. I have reviewed my family history, and found details about them from a prior census. But I just cannot stomach the race question. I am tired of people being classified into races. It is arbitrary and divisive. But clearly this is my own opinion. Since I was not employed at DOJ 10 years ago, I really don't know what will happen when we put "american" on the form. But seriously, I cannot imagine anyone being prosecuted, or even imagine cases referred for prosecution. Simply put, the FBI, and other federal agencies have so much to do to keep up with the real bad guys, than to worry about these cases. I have not heard a peep about this issue.

    29. I don't press 1 says:

      Let's get this correct. There are only three human 'races': Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. I didn't see any of those listed on the form. How can we answer correctly if they don't give us the correct choices?

    30. hank says:

      I also believe that classifying and subdividing Americans is repugnant. Having retired from the USMC I was tempted to put Marine as my race.

      Oddly both my son and daughter-in-law attend the University of Kansas and had already completed the census sent to their apartment. Their school accounts were suspended until they were forced to complete the census online as well.

      Perhaps American Mutt would be an appropriate response.

      With Utmost Respect ~ Semper Fi, Hank

      Owner/Founder Devil Dog Brew

    31. hank says:

      I just had a note sent to me from one of the city organizations that keep me posted on local events — Free Lunches (No such thing as a Free Lunch)… the last blurb about Free Census goodies …Free to Whom? Those that don't pay taxes?!?

      REF:

      City to participate in National Census Day April 1 Portrait of America Road Tour

      As part of the event, City of Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Mark Funkhouser and members of the City Council will discuss the importance of the 2010 Census at 11:30 a.m. The Kansas City Police Department's Mounted Patrol Section and a Kansas City Fire Department apparatus also will be on hand. In addition, the KCPD helicopter is scheduled to land at approximately 12:30 p.m., weather permitting. Multicultural dancers and story-tellers will perform throughout the event and free lunches will be available.

      The Portrait of America Road Tour features 13 decorated vehicles, traveling more than 150,000 miles in 1,547 tour days. It is one of the largest civic outreach and awareness campaign in U.S. history, stopping and exhibiting at more than 1,000 events nationwide. From local parades and festivals to major sporting events, the road tour is motivating America's growing and increasingly diverse population to complete and mail back the 10-question Census form.

      The road tour offers an educational, engaging and interactive experience that brings the benefits of the 2010 Census to life. It will make the census personal and relevant to those who attend. Participants in the road tour will be able to record their own stories on a Portrait of America kiosk to share why the Census will make a difference to their communities; fill in a larger-than-life 10-question Census questionnaire with the actual questions from the 2010 survey; learn about the unique history of the Census, the process by which people are counted, why an accurate count is so critical to the nation, how to participate and where to get assistance in completing the form. Free Census goodies, prizes and surprises also will be available.

      ——————-

      Perhaps just more sour grapes from Hank that's disgusted that in 2010 we're still more concerned about the color of someones skin than the content within.

      Semper Fi, Hank

    32. joyce - nj says:

      i will write in american on all the people in my family – i am worried about not writing all our names on the census — is it worth it to be harrassed for not writing in everything on the census ? i am adamant about the race – enough race dividing.

    33. haha, ny says:

      Funny how I bet everyone who takes such offense that this is a "racist" question and commenting here is white (or >90% white).

      Gee, "American" — what an inspired, helpful answer!

      And to those that are so offended that the "white" category doesn't differentiate between, say, Irish, and German, ever wonder how a "Chinese" person feels when you assume all Chinese are just the same, or all "Arab" people all look the same! Each of these groups, too, have MORE ethnic and linguistic diversity as all of the European continent. Why aren't you equally offended that there is no subgrouping for Miao, or the Kurds?

    34. Mike, California (So says:

      I've been writing human being on the census forms for the past 30 years. Occasionally, I'd get a follow up phone call from some nitwit questioning it. But I've been a practicing lawyer since the mid 70's and I would just love to face down these morons in court and have them defend their idiocy. By the way, when applying for law school, I wrote down that I was a "native American." That really threw them off when I was admitted to the law school at the University of California. Res ipsa loquitor.

    35. Mara says:

      Recently, I found the 2010 Census form hanging on my door. As I began filling it out, I came across a dilemma. The U.S. government wants to know if my children are adopted or not and it wants to know what our races are. Being adopted myself, I had to put “Other” and “Don’t Know Adopted” for my race and “Other” and “Don’t Know” for my kids’ races.

      Can you imagine not knowing your ethnicity, your race? Now imagine walking into a vital records office and asking the clerk for your original birth certificate only to be told “No, you can’t have it, it’s sealed.”

      How about being presented with a “family history form” to fill out at every single doctor’s office visit and having to put “N/A Adopted” where life saving information should be?

      Imagine being asked what your nationality is and having to respond with “I don’t know.”

      It is time that the archaic practice of sealing and altering birth certificates of adopted persons stops.

      Adoption is a $5 billion, unregulated industry that profits from the sale and redistribution of children. It turns children into chattel who are re-labeled and sold as “blank slates.”

      Genealogy, a modern-day fascination, cannot be enjoyed by adopted persons with sealed identities. Family trees are exclusive to the non-adopted persons in our society.

      If adoption is truly to return to what is best for a child, then the rights of children to their biological identities should NEVER be violated. Every single judge that finalizes an adoption and orders a child’s birth certificate to be sealed should be ashamed of him/herself.

      I challenge all readers: Ask the adopted persons that you know if their original birth certificates are sealed.

    36. Dave, Virginia says:

      I answered "don't know" to the hispanic question and "Other: American" to the "race" question and mailed my form promptly. Last night, on the 4th of July, a day to celebrate, I received a call from a census worker asking me to discuss my census form with her. I told her that I was enjoying the holiday and was not going to speak with her then I hung up. Can't wait for the harassment to begin.

      Bring it on…..

    37. sandy , florida says:

      I put human on my census and they have called our house at least 15 times they always leave a message , so far I have not been home, I have NOT returned their call. and I refuse to change my answer. They ask race , at least in my opinion< to make sure they distribute money from the governent in the higher minority areas

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