Mixed feelings about mixed-race census option

Mixed feelings about mixed-race census option

The Stanford Daily

Brianna Pang

The 2010 census, which hit mailboxes this month, is causing scholars and mixed-race people to debate, for just the second time in the count’s history, the dilemma of whether or not to check multiple “race” boxes.

One Stanford professor, Michele Elam, the director of the Program in African and African-American Studies, wrote in a recent op-ed in The Huffington Post that people should consider “thinking twice, but checking once,” since the goal of the census is to diagnose the resources the federal government should offer.

Elam said that the question of whether or not to check more than one box is not about meeting some level of “mixedness.”

“[The question is] a recognition that ‘race’ is and has always been a broad political category that has had and continues to have real impacts,” Elam wrote in e-mail to The Daily, “and most important, in this context, is being invoked to help track inequities based on race and to distribute economic resources.”

Matthew Snipp, the director of the Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity program, also commented on the effects of checking more than one box. According to Snipp, who has been involved in the census since the 1980s, census data is used to allocate $400 billion per year…

…As determined by the Department of Justice in the 2000 Census, if one were considered a member of a protected minority group and also a majority group, then for civil rights enforcement purposes, the person is counted as the minority…

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