The Recursive Outcomes of the Multiracial Movement and the End of American Racial Categories

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-03-18 00:08Z by Steven

The Recursive Outcomes of the Multiracial Movement and the End of American Racial Categories

Studies in American Political Development
Volume 31, Issue 1 (April 2017)
pages 88-107
DOI: 10.1017/S0898588X17000074

Kim M. Williams, Associate Professor of Political Science
Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

After a protracted national discussion about racial mixture in the early 1990s, the Office of Management and Budget made the unprecedented decision in 1997 to allow Americans to “mark one or more” racial categories on the 2000 census. A small “multiracial movement” provoked this fundamental change in the way the government collects racial data. This case study shows that even very small and modest social movements can have profound effects on public policy through their unintended consequences. In winning a redefinition of how the U.S. government defines and counts by race, the multiracial movement of the 1990s set in motion a process that has both amplified and been amplified by broader structural and cultural changes in how Americans perceive race. The modest impact of a small social movement can ultimately produce very big consequences.

Read or purchase the article here.

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New Challenges in Measuring Race in the United States

Posted in Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2011-01-12 20:42Z by Steven

New Challenges in Measuring Race in the United States

2010 National Conference on Health Statistics
Omni Shorem Hotel, Washington, D.C.
2010-08-17
46 pages/slides

Reynolds Farley, Research Professor Emeritus
University of Michigan
Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research

The Multiracial Movement of the 1990s [page/slide 2]

  • After Census 1990, a small social movement developed calling for a fundamental change in the way the federal statistical system classified people by race. Susan Graham played an important role in this.
  • Rather than forcing persons to identify with one single race only, they insisted upon the addition of a “Multiple Races” category.
  • Some leading advocates of this change were white women married to African-American men who found that their children were almost always classified as black by those who collected statistical data or tabulated persons by race. See: Kim M. Williams, Mark One or More Civil Rights in Multiracial America

Who Identifies with Multiple Races? [page/slide 9]

  • Age differences are great. In 2008, 5% of those under 10 were identified with two or more races; fewer than 1% for those over age 64 did so.
  • Race differences are substantial. In 2008, 52% of the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population identified with a second race; 45% of American Indians did so. For whites, it was only 3%
  • Educational Attainment differences in identifying with multiple races were small.
  • Geographic Differences in Identifying with Two or More Races are Large. In 2008, 21% of the residents of Honolulu and 10% in Anchorage identified with 2 or more races. In Birmingham, Alabama, Jackson, Mississippi, Portland, Maine and Sarasota, Florida; fewer than 1% identified with 2 or more races.

Measuring Race Will Be Increasingly Challenging [page/slide 26]

  • A substantial increase in interracial marriages implies that the multiple race population is growing rapidly
  • There is widespread consensus that race is a social construct. Perhaps, many people wish to construct their own racial identity.
  • Question order and question wording effects are very large

Read the entire presentation here.

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Defying the Civil Rights Lobby: The American Multiracial Movement

Posted in Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2010-12-16 00:31Z by Steven

Defying the Civil Rights Lobby: The American Multiracial Movement

Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change
University of Memphis
April 2007
35 pages

Kim M. Williams, Associate Professor of Public Policy
Harvard University

Throughout the 1990s a handful of advocates argued to stunning if partial success that it was both inaccurate and an affront to force multiracial Americans into monoracial categories. They called for the addition of a multiracial designator on the U.S. Census to bolster the self-esteem of multiracial children; furthermore, they maintained that the recognition of racial mixture could help defuse American racial polarization. Fearing the potential dilution of minority numbers and political power, ironically, civil rights groups emerged as the staunchest opponents of the multiracial category effort. Nevertheless, from 1992 to 1998, six states passed legislation to add a multiracial category on state forms. Further, in 1997 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced an unprecedented “mark one or more” (MOOM) decision, which did not add a multiracial category to the census, but nevertheless, allowed Americans to identify officially with as many racial groups as they saw fit. Although in some ways its immediate impact might seem negligible, I argue in in Race Counts: American Multiracialism & Post-Civil Rights Politics [Mark One or More: Civil Rights in Multiracial America] (The University of Michigan Press, Forthcoming) that MOOM will eventually reach deeply into the nation’s civil rights agenda. Ultimately this recent restructuring of the American racial classification system, in tandem with coexisting trends, could push the nation to rethink the logic of civil rights enforcement.

The multiracial movement started with a handful of adult-based groups that formed on the West Coast in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Currently there are approximately thirty active adult-based multiracial organizations across the United States and about the same number of student organizations on college campuses. Most of the adult-based groups are oriented toward social support more than political advocacy, but in 1988, a number of these local organizations joined forces to create the Association for Multi-Ethnic Americans (AMEA). At that point, the primary political goal of this new umbrella group was to push the Census Bureau to add a multiracial category on the 1990 census. Soon after the establishment of AMEA, two other national umbrella organizations formed: Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally) and A Place for Us. Beyond agenda setting, this small, disorganized social movement exerted little to no influence over the aforementioned outcomes. At the height of movement activity it involved no more than 1,000 individuals in a loose network of groups (Figure 5.1) scattered across the country and only twenty or so core, committed activists at the helm

Read the entire paper here.

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Multiracialism & the civil rights future

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2010-03-29 00:16Z by Steven

Multiracialism & the civil rights future

Daedalus
Volume 134, Number 1 (Winter 2005)
Pages 53-60
DOI: 10.1162/0011526053124406

Kim M. Williams, Associate Professor of Public Policy
Harvard Kennedy School
Harvard University

Spurred by a small group of activists in the 1990s, the American system of racial classification changed recently in a conceptually bold way. With moving reference to the self-esteem of their children, along with the moral conviction that multiracial recognition could help the entire nation beyond an impasse, multiracial advocates were astonishingly successful in the 1990s.

Yet at the height of activity, the multiracial movement involved no more than a thousand individuals, mainly living on the East and West Coasts. Only a handful of leaders pushed the multiracial category effort forward, in fits and starts, throughout the decade. Despite its small size, the group that advanced the cause did not agree on much beyond the belief that forcing multiracial Americans into monoracial categories was inaccurate and inappropriate. Still, with only the slightest nudging by this poorly financed and increasingly fractious handful of activists, six states passed legislation between 1992 and 1998 to add a multiracial category to state forms. During the same period, legislators introduced multiracial category bills in five additional states, while two other states added a multiracial designation by administrative mandate.

The multiracialists’ best-known campaign would have added a multiracial category to the 2000 census. While the group did not get exactly what it wanted, its efforts led to the creation of an unprecedented “mark one or more” option, allowing individual Americans to identify with as many racial groups as they saw fit. Throughout the prolonged review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) culminating in this 1997 decision, the priorities of traditional civil rights advocates were twofold. First, they strongly opposed a stand-alone multiracial category, fearing that it would jeopardize civil and voting rights enforcement by diluting the count of minorities. Having successfully averted this outcome, but faced with no alternative to multiple check-offs, civil rights proponents secondly strove to ensure that multiple-race responses would be tabulated to a minority group.

The OMB met both demands. It rejected a stand-alone multiracial category and arrived at a tabulation scheme that has actually increased the tally of minority groups in some contexts, since anyone who checks off boxes for both white and a minority race counts as part of the latter for civil rights purposes. From one perspective, the technical fix adopted by the federal government–intended to balance the tension between growing racial fluidity on the one hand, and on-going racial and ethnic data needs on the other—amounted to symbolic appeasement. Federal-level multiple-race data serve no statutory purpose, and the tabulation guidelines stipulate a systematic process by which to convert multiple-race responses into single-race data. This is necessary because, to enforce civil and voting rights laws, we must be able to distinguish between those who are members of minority groups and those who are not.

Only 2.4 percent of the population, about 6.8 million people, identify with multiple races, as measured in 2000. At first glance, this might seem insignificant. Given that civil rights enforcement depends heavily on patterns, and that ‘multiple-race’ is not a protected class, the consensus has been that the multiple-race option is probably irrelevant to civil rights claims involving the size and the characteristics of minority groups. (1) But is the “mark one or more” format merely symbolic? Is the symbolism politically irrelevant?…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Sixth Annual Ray Warren Multicultural Symposium (2009): Mixed: The Politics of Hybrid Identities

Posted in Live Events, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2009-12-15 01:54Z by Steven

Sixth Annual Ray Warren Multicultural Symposium (2009): Mixed: The Politics of Hybrid Identities

Lewis and Clark College
Portland, Oregon
2009-11-11 through 2009-11-13

Events

  • “Obama and the Biracial Factor: Race, Sexuality, and the Battle for a New America” – Andrew JolivĂ©tte (Introduced by Brenda Salas Neves, L&C student and symposium co-chair)
  • “Secrets of a Mixed Race Child” – Dmae Roberts (Introduced by Parasa Chanramy, L&C student and symposium co-chair)
  • Interracial Relationships, Adoption, and Identity – Moderator: Reiko Hillyer with Jiannbin Shiao, Astrid Dabbeni, Nicole Cullen, Hanako Conrad
  • Remix: Identities and Artistic Expression – Moderator: Franya Berkman with Dmae Roberts, Gerardo CalderĂłn, Nelda Reyes, Christabel Escarez and Nico Jose
  • “The Future of Multiracial Politics” – Kim Williams (Introduced by Chris Wendt)
  • Indigeneity and Cultural Exchange – Moderator: Elliott Young with Se-ah-dom Edmo, Tana Atchley, Muki Hansteen Izora, L&C students Lu’u Nakanelua and Allison Perry
  • Nation-Building and Mixed Populations – Moderator: Rich Peck with Oren Kosansky, Cari Coe, Osaebea Amoako, Tim Moore
  • Race Monologues – Identity: According to Whom? (Introduced by Parasa Chanramy) with L&C students Christabel Escarez, Adrian Guerrero, Temesghen Habte, Christina Herring, Jessica Houston, Nico Jose, Yollie Keeton, Rhea Manley, Jasin Nazim,Goldann Salazar, Jared Schy, and Madelyn Troiano
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Mark One or More: Civil Rights in Multiracial America

Posted in Books, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2009-09-28 00:42Z by Steven

Mark One or More: Civil Rights in Multiracial America

University of Michigan Press
2006
208 pages
6 x 9; 11 Tables & 8 Figures.
Paper ISBN: 978-0-472-03280-8

Kim M. Williams, Associate Professor of Political Science; Academic Director of the Center for Women, Politics & Policy at the Hatfield School of Government
Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

The little-known story of the struggle to include a multiracial category on the U.S. census, and the profound changes it wrought in the American political landscape.

Mark One or More tells the little-known story of the struggle to include a multiracial category on the U.S. census, and the profound changes it wrought in the American political landscape.

The movement to add a multiracial category to the 2000 U.S. Census provoked unprecedented debates about race. The effort made for strange bedfellows.  Republicans like House Speaker Newt Gingrich and affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly took up the multiracial cause. Civil rights leaders opposed the movement on the premise that it had the potential to dilute the census count of traditional minority groups. The activists themselves—a loose confederation of organizations, many led by the white mothers of interracial children—wanted recognition. What they got was the transformation of racial politics in America.

Mark One or More is the compelling account of how this small movement sparked a big change, and a moving call to reassess the meaning of racial identity in American life.

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The Politics of Multiracialism: Challenging Racial Thinking

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2009-09-27 23:39Z by Steven

The Politics of Multiracialism: Challenging Racial Thinking

State University of New York Press
June 2004
263 pages
Hardcover ISBN-10: 0-7914-6153-X; ISBN-13: 978-0-7914-6153-2
Paperback ISBN-10: 0-7914-6154-8; ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6154-9

Editor:

Heather M. Dalmage, Professor of Sociology and Director
Mansfield Institute for Social Justice
Roosevelt University

A provocative analysis of current thought and discourse on multiracialism.

This is the first book to critically look at the political issues and interests surrounding the broadly defined Multiracial Movement and at what is being said about multiracialism. Many of the multiracial family organizations that exist across the United States developed socially, ideologically, and politically during the conservative Reagan years. While members of the Multiracial Movement differ widely in their political views, the concept of multiracialism has been taken up by conservative politicians in ways that are often inimical to the interests of traditionally defined minorities.

Contributors look at the Multiracial Movement’s voice and at the political controversies that attend the notion of multiracialism in academic and popular literature, internet discourse, census debates, and discourse by and about pop culture celebrities. The work discusses how multiracialism, hybridity, and racial mixing have occurred amidst existing academic discussions of authenticity, community borders, identity politics, the social construction of race, and postmodern fragmentation. How the Multiracial Movement is shaping and transforming collective multiracial identities is also explored.

Contributors include Erica Chito Childs, Kimberly McClain DaCosta, Heather M. Dalmage, Abby L. Ferber, Charles A. Gallagher, Terri A. Karis, Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain, Kerry Ann Rockquemore, Barbara Katz Rothman, Rainier Spencer, Eileen T. Walsh, and Kim M. Williams.

Table of Contents

Part One: Context of the Multiracial Movement

1. All in the Family: The Familial Roots of Racial Divisions
Kimberly McClain DaCosta

2. Defending the Creation of Whiteness: White Supremacy and the Threat of Interracial Sexuality
Abby L. Ferber

3. Racial Redistricting: Expanding the Boundaries of Whiteness
Charles A. Gallagher

4. Linking the Civil Rights and Multiracial Movements
Kim M. Williams

Part Two: Discourses of the Multiracial Movement

5. Beyond Pathology and Cheerleading: Insurgency, Dissolution, and Complicity in the Multiracial Idea
Rainier Spencer

6. Deconstructing Tiger Woods: The Promise and Pitfalls of Multiracial Identity
Kerry Ann Rockquemore

7. Multirace.com: Multiracial Cyberspace
Erica Chito Childs

8. “I Prefer to Speak of Culture”: White Mothers of Multiracial Children
Terri A. Karis

Part Three: Lessons from the Multiracial Movement

9. Model Majority? The Struggle for Identity among Multiracial Japanese Americans
Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain

10. Transracial Adoption: Refocusing Upstream
Barbara Katz Rothman

11. Protecting Racial Comfort, Protecting White Privilege
Heather M. Dalmage

12. Ideology of the Multiracial Movement: Dismantling the Color Line and Disguising White Supremacy?
Eileen T. Walsh

List of Contributors

Index

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A New Take On A Old Idea: Do We Need Multiracial Studies?

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2009-07-07 22:08Z by Steven

A New Take On A Old Idea: Do We Need Multiracial Studies?

Du Bois Review: Social Science Review on Race
Volume 3, Issue 2 (September 2006)
pages 437-447
DOI: 10.1017/S1742058X06060280

Victor Thompson, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersery

Publications about multiracial identity and the multiracial population increased significantly prior to the 2000 U.S. Census. Most of these publications emerged after 1997—a significant year in the recent history of studies on the multiracial population, as this was the year the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) established new guidelines for collecting data on race, allowing people to choose more than one race (Office of Management and Budget 1997). It quickly became evident that this change in how the federal government tallies race was a significant event that merited the attention of academics. This surge in research on multiracial identity and the multiracial movement reflected, on the one hand, a push by multiracial advocates for more attention to the complexities of “being multiracial” and, on the other hand, a group of scholars interested in understanding the unfolding of these events…

Mark One or More: Civil Rights in Multiracial America, by Kim Williams (2006), treats issues characteristic of scholars interested in the set of events leading up to and following the adoption of the “mark one or more” (MOOM) option for the 2000 Census.  Challenging Multiracial Identity, by Rainier Spencer (2006), represents a growing interest in critically understanding and evaluating the motivations of “multiracial” politics.  And The Politics of Multiracialism: Challenging Racial Thinking (2004), edited by Heather Dalmage (2004), is a collection of essays by authors who contribute to what might be seen as the emerging field of multiracial studies.  I shall discuss these authors’ attempts to reflect on, and potentially give birth to, a sub-discipline of multiracial studies, after first offering a synopsis of each work…

Read the entire review of all three books here.

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