Race and ethnicity are neither scientifically reliable nor valid categories…

Race and ethnicity are neither scientifically reliable nor valid categories, and assignments to racial or ethnic categories are often based on observer biases, changing situational identities, and historical-political vagaries (Lee 1993; Kaplan and Bennett 2003; Williams 2007). In real life, people do not have only one fixed racial or ethnic identity which remains the same over time and space and that can be accurately measured. A further complication inherent in categorization is that people embrace biracial, multiracial, and multi-ethnic identities, which makes the categories even more difficult to sustain, compare, and enumerate. Current racial and ethnic categories for federal data collection are not sensitive to the complex intra-group heterogeneity that exists in the nation (Kaplan and Bennett 2003; Office of Management and Budget 1997).

Alison Stratton, Ava Nepaul, and Margaret Hynes, “Issue Brief – Race and Ethnicity Matters: Concepts and Challenges of Racial and Ethnic Classifications in Public Health,” The Connecticut Health Disparities Project, (Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut Department of Public Health, Fall 2007). http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/hisr/pdf/race_and_ethnicity_matters.pdf.

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