The U.S. Government is considering proposals to revamp its massively flawed racial classification system to allow “Hispanics,” Jews, North Africans, and other Middle Easterners to be classed as nonwhite instead of the “white” category into which they are currently lumped.
The current misclassification leads to distortions in the “white” crime rate, welfare usage, and all other federal record-keeping, including as it does all manner of nonwhites into the “white” figures.
The proposed changes have been published by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in an announcement at the Federal Register, the Daily Journal of the United States Government.
According to that report, the OMB “is undertaking a review of particular components of the 1997 standard [of classification]: The use of separate questions measuring race and ethnicity and question phrasing; the classification of a Middle Eastern and North African group and reporting category; the description of the intended use of minimum reporting categories; and terminology used for race and ethnicity classifications.”
The proposals being considered include combining separate race and Hispanic questions into one and adding a new “Middle East-North Africa” category.
If approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the revisions would be made on the 2020 census questionnaire and other federal government surveys or forms.
According to federal officials, the changes are “intended to improve the accuracy and reliability of race and ethnicity data by making it easier for people to answer questions about their identity.”
Currently, Hispanics, Arabs, and people of multiple origins are unsure about how to categorize themselves on census questionnaires and other federal forms.
Census forms since 1980 have asked two questions about race and ethnicity. In the 2010 census, people first were asked whether they were of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin, and were instructed that Hispanic origins are not races.
Another question asked them to choose one or more of 15 options that make up five race categories—“white,” “black,” “American Indian/Alaska Native,” “Asian,” or “Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.”
There also is a “some other race” category.
According to the new proposals, a “combined question” would offer people the chance to check a box to identify as “white,” “black,” “Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin,” “American Indian/Alaska Native,” “Asian,” “Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander” or “some other race or origin.”
Under each category would be a line where people could offer more detail about their origin, tribe, or race—for example, Irish, Mexican, Nigerian, Navajo, or Pakistani.
A goal of the new questions would be to reduce the number of people who check no race box or check the “some other race” box rather than a specific race.
In a presentation to advisory groups, Census Bureau officials said that in a test census of 1.2 million households last year, the combined question appeared “to elicit higher quality data” than separate questions. Also, fewer people checked the “some other race” category.
The other major change in federal race and ethnicity questions would be to add a category for people who trace their origins to the Middle East and North Africa, who now generally are categorized as white.
The category would be broader than the data collected on Arab ancestry since 1980. It could potentially include people from 19 nationalities, such as “Egyptian,” “Israeli,” and “Lebanese,” as well as 11 ethnic or “pan-ethnic” identities, such as Kurdish or Arab.
The OMB has invited comments on their proposals to be submitted within 30 days, after which they will be considered further and a final determination made in preparation for the 2020 census.
- The announcement added that Federal statistics about race and Hispanic identity are used to “enforce the requirements of the Voting Rights Act; reviewing State congressional redistricting plans; collecting and presenting population and population characteristics data, labor force data, education data, and vital and health statistics; establishing and evaluating Federal affirmative action plans and evaluating affirmative action and discrimination in employment in the private sector; monitoring the access of minorities to home mortgage loans under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act; enforcing the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; monitoring and enforcing desegregation plans in the public schools; assisting minority businesses under the minority business development programs; monitoring and enforcing the Fair Housing Act.”