Thursday, January 14, 2010

Racist terms or not, fill out that form.

There has been some hubbub lately about the inclusion of a certain racial term on the 2010 U.S. Census form.

Question number 9 on the form will ask: "What is Person 1's race?" You will be asked to mark an answer box. The choices are

Black, African-American, or Negro;
American Indian or Alaska Native;
Asian Indian
etc., etc.

Here are the 3 best explanations I've heard in response to outcries that people should refuse to participate in a Census is that includes such a seemingly outdated, racially loaded (if not outright racist) term.

Why is the term "Negro" included alongside "Black" and "African-American" on the 2010 Census form?
The 2010 Census questions underwent strenuous focus groups test; no question is on the form by accident, habit or tradition. During testing, it was found that many older, black Americans (particularly in southern parts of the US) still identify along this term. Census officials report that many wrote in "Negro" on their 2000 Census form (CBS News). The term is included in an effort to encompass the variety of racial categories with which black people in America currently identify.

Why is boycotting the Census based on the inclusion of this term a bad idea?
As Bridgette Rongitsch, NVEN National Director, puts it: refusing to fill out a Census form on this basis "is only a win" for those groups and individuals who want to deny resources and funding to black communities, and only a lose for these black communities. Period. Each person on each completed form is worth about $1200 a year to local communities - at the end of the day, this is what matters most.

What if I still feel the Census Bureau's use of this term is wrong?
If individuals want to protest the inclusion of this term on the form, a good way to convey disapproval in a proactive way would be to include a note with their completed Census questionnaire when they mail it back.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe this country would get over it's racial divide if we stopped institutionalizing a racial divided at the highest levels of our government. What's wrong with us all being part of the HUMAN race and the AMERICAN culture?

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