Race in Rhode Island: Is race just an invention?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-01 20:34Z by Steven

Race in Rhode Island: Is race just an invention?

The Providence Journal
Providence, Rhode Island
2015-06-27

Paul Edward Parker

Classifications were created to divide people, say educator, historian.

When you ask “What is race?” don’t expect a simple answer.

And, when you consider Latinos — Are they a race or an ethnicity? — plus America’s ever growing multiracial identity, that complicated answer grows even more complex.

The apparently simple concept of race eludes easy definition, even though we have been counting people by race in Rhode Island as far back as 1774.

The federal government took up the practice in 1790, the year that Rhode Island became the 13th and final original state to ratify the Constitution.

Despite that long history of sorting people into racial categories, experts say it has little basis in science. It’s more about sociology and politics.

“Race is not a biological construct. It’s a social construct,” said Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, a retired Rhode Island College professor who, for nearly 40 years, taught classes on the anthropology of racism. “There’s a belief that it’s scientific,” she added. “It’s impossible to classify humans scientifically into race.”…

What about Latino?

Along with “What is race?” those who count Americans by categories have to ask: “Is Hispanic or Latino a race?”

The Census Bureau has said no, Hispanic origin is in addition to race. Someone who identifies as Hispanic or Latino also will belong to one or more of the five racial groups.

But two-thirds of American Latinos disagree, Lopez said. They have told Pew that Latino is part of their racial identity.

“I’m not white, and I’m not black,” said Anna Cano Morales, director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University in Providence. “I choose to be Latina.”

But Morales concedes racial and ethnic identity is not simple. “This is an incredibly complex set of questions,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

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Hawaii is home to the nation’s largest share of multiracial Americans

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-01 19:32Z by Steven

Hawaii is home to the nation’s largest share of multiracial Americans

Pew Research Center
2015-06-17

Jens Manuel Krogstad, Writer/Editor, Hispanic Trends Project

The number of multiracial Americans is growing nationwide, but in Hawaii, it’s nothing new. The Rainbow State – with its history of attracting immigrants from Asia and other parts of the world to work as farm laborers – stands far above the rest, with nearly one-in-four residents (24%) identifying as multiracial, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. The next most-multiracial states are far behind: Alaska (8%) and Oklahoma (7%).

Here’s another way to look at how much Hawaii stands out: In terms of total population, Hawaii is one of the smallest (1.4 million people), ranking 40th out of 50 states. But when ranking states with the highest total multiracial population, the state ranks sixth, with more than 330,000.

A new Pew Research survey found that the number of multiracial Americans may be higher than the estimates from Census, which has estimated that 3% of the overall U.S. population – and 2.1% of the adult population – is multiracial. But taking into account how adults describe their own race as well as the racial backgrounds of their parents and grandparents – which the census does not do – Pew Research estimates that 6.9% of the U.S. adult population could be considered multiracial…

Read the entire article here.

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The ambiguity of racial categories

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-01 13:54Z by Steven

The ambiguity of racial categories

The Washington Post
2015-06-16

Andrew Gelman, Professor of Statistics and Political Science
Columbia University, New York, New York


Racial classification has been in the news lately with the story of Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP official who is ethnically white but characterized herself as black until the story came out:

The allegation lit up the Internet, fueled by Ms. Dolezal’s apparent refusal to give a direct answer about her racial background, and by family photos of her as a blue-eyed teenager with straight blond hair.

What does it mean to be white, or black, or mixed-race?

These questions are not going away. Richard Perez-Pena reports:

The number of American adults with mixed-race backgrounds is three times what official census figures indicate… The Pew Research Center survey found that 6.9 percent of adults in the United States were multiracial, based on how they identify themselves or on having parents or grandparents of different races. By comparison, the 2010 census reported 2.1 percent of adults, and 2.9 percent of people any age, as multiracial, based on people’s descriptions of themselves or others in their households. (Hispanics are considered an ethnic group, not a race.)…

Relevant to this discussion is a book from two years ago, “What is Your Race? The Census and Our Flawed Efforts to Classify Americans,” by former Census Bureau director Ken Prewitt recommends taking the race question off the decennial census. As I summarized last time this came up, Prewitt recommends gradual changes, integrating the race and national origin questions while improving both. In particular, he would replace the main “race” question by a “race or origin” question, with the instruction to “Mark one or more” of the following boxes: “White,” “Black, African Am., or Negro,” “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin,” “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Asian,” “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander,” and “Some other race or origin.” He recommends treating Hispanic as a race or origin, in parallel with white, black, etc., which I agree makes sense. I think the current categorization in which “Hispanic” is an ethnic group but “White” and “Black” are races, is both confusing and unnecessary…

Read the entire article here.

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America’s ‘Postracial’ Fantasy

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-30 16:51Z by Steven

America’s ‘Postracial’ Fantasy

The New York Times Magazine
2015-06-30

Anna Holmes


Illustration by Javier Jaén

For millions of mixed-race people, identity fits more than one box, but we still see one another in black and white.

On Father’s Day, my dad and I had brunch with some close friends of mine. The conversation soon turned to their two sons: their likes, their dislikes, their habit of disrupting classmates during nap time at nursery school. At one point, as I ran my hand through one of the boys’ silky brown hair, I asked whether they consider their kids biracial. (The father is white; the mother is South Asian.) Before they could respond, the children’s paternal grandmother, in town for a visit, replied as if the answer were the most obvious thing in the world: “They’re white.”

I was taken aback, but I also realized she had a point: The two boys, who have big brown eyes and just a blush of olive in their skin, are already — and will probably continue to be — regarded as white first, South Asian a distant second. Nothing in their appearance would suggest otherwise, and who’s to say whether, once they realize that people see them as white, they will feel the need to set the record straight? Most people prefer the straightforward to the complex — especially when it when it comes to conversations about race.

A Pew Research Center study released in June, “Multiracial in America,” reports that “biracial adults who are white and Asian say they have more in common with whites than they do with Asians” and “are more likely to say they feel accepted by whites than by Asians.” While 76 percent of all mixed-­race Americans claim that their backgrounds have made “no difference” in their lives, the data and anecdotes included in the study nevertheless underscore how, for a fair number of us, words like “multiracial” and “biracial” are awkward and inadequate, denoting identities that are fluid for some and fixed for others…

…My interactions with the world also underscored that biracial children are not in any way created equal — others’ interpretations of us are informed by assumptions based on appearance. Few black-white biracial Americans, compared with multiracial Asian-­whites, have the privilege of easily “passing“: Our blackness defines us and marks us in a way that mixed-­race parentage in others does not. As the Pew survey explains, children of Native American-­white parents make up over half of the country’s multiracial population and, like Asian-­white children, are usually thought of as white. The survey also reports that although the number of black-white biracial Americans more than doubled from 2000 to 2010, 69 percent of them say that most others see them solely as black; “for multiracial adults with a black background,” Pew notes, “experiences with discrimination closely mirror those of single-­race blacks.”..

Read the entire article here.

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As a kid, I was biracial (and black). Today, I’m black (and biracial).

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-06-25 20:38Z by Steven

As a kid, I was biracial (and black). Today, I’m black (and biracial).

The Washington Post
2015-06-24

Kristal Brent Zook, Professor of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations
Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York

The box we check on census forms is only half the story.

A recent Pew study, “Multiracial in America: Proud, Diverse and Growing in Numbers,” has unleashed a flurry of new commentary about a group that’s now growing at a rate three times as fast as the population as a whole. Pew says its numbers have been seriously underestimated by the U.S. Census, which only began offering a box for those of more than one race in 2000. In 2010, those who checked it were 2.9 percent of the population, but Pew now places the number as high as 6.9 percent, with a serious caveat: Fully 61 percent of those with a mixed racial background don’t consider themselves to be part of this “mixed race or multiracial group.”

I can relate.

Although my mother is African American and my father is Caucasian — which I’ve readily acknowledged to anyone who wants to know — the census box I’ve always chosen is African American. To officially consider myself “multiracial” rather than black would be a complicated and, for me, uncomfortable undertaking, fraught with emotional, social, political and cultural minefields.

The box we check, after all, is only half the story. What struck me most about the Pew study was what it called an “added layer of complexity.” No matter which box one chooses, the study found that “racial identity can be fluid and may change over the course of one’s life, or even from one situation to another. About three in ten adults with a multiracial background say they have changed the way they describe their race over the years, it went on to note, “with some saying they once thought of themselves as only one race and now think of themselves as more than one race, and others saying just the opposite.”

Once again, I can relate…

Read the entire article here.

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America’s largest multiracial group doesn’t think of itself that way

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2015-06-25 20:26Z by Steven

America’s largest multiracial group doesn’t think of itself that way

Vox
2015-06-18

Jenée Desmond-Harris

People who have both white and Native American heritage make up America’s biggest multiracial group. But they’re the least likely to embrace the label.

This is one of the findings of a Pew Research Center study that took an incredibly detailed look at the lives of multiracial Americans. Pew did something unique to get this data: instead of studying only the people who checked off the “multiracial” box on the census, it looked at all the people who have reported having parents and grandparents of different racial backgrounds — a much bigger group…

Read the entire article here.

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Emil Guillermo: Rachel Dolezal, Dylann Roof, and Father’s Day

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-21 02:38Z by Steven

Emil Guillermo: Rachel Dolezal, Dylann Roof, and Father’s Day

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
2015-06-20

Emil Guillermo

Rachel Dolezal nearly wrecked everyone’s Father’s Day.

You don’t often see a daughter outed so publicly by her white father for passing as an African American, but I guess post-racial filial love isn’t necessarily unconditional.

I admit to being somewhat sympathetic of Rachel D., at first. The Census, our demographic standard, is, after all, a “you are what you say you are” proposition. You can self-identify to your heart’s content. No one is going to enforce a “one drop rule,” like they did in Virginia for hundreds of years to keep marriage a segregated institution.

But Dolezal’s “no drop” rule can also be problematic. And when her family’s outing her became like a reality show audition, leave it to the black man whom she called dad, Albert Wilkerson, to bring things back to earth. “There are bigger issues in this country to be discussing,” he told People magazine. “[But] I’m not going to throw her under the bus.”

Now that’s the kind of love you’ll only find from a real, though fake, “Dad.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Census considers new approach to asking about race – by not using the term at all

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-06-21 01:40Z by Steven

Census considers new approach to asking about race – by not using the term at all

Pew Research Center
2015-06-18

D’Vera Cohn, Senior Writer/Editor


Possible 2020 census race/Hispanic question for online respondents, who would click to the next screen to choose more detailed sub-categories such as “Cuban” or “Chinese.” Credit: U.S. Census Bureau

The Census Bureau is experimenting with new ways to ask Americans about their race or origin in the 2020 census – including not using the words “race” or “origin” at all. Instead, the questionnaire may tell people to check the “categories” that describe them.

Census officials say they want the questions they ask to be clear and easy, in order to encourage Americans to answer them, so the officials can better collect race and Hispanic data as required by law. But many people are confused by the current wording, or find it misleading or insufficient to describe their identity.

Census forms now have two questions about race and Hispanic origin. The first asks people whether they are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin, and states that “Hispanic origins are not races.” A second question asks, “What is this person’s race?” and includes a list of options with checkboxes and write-in spaces. The U.S. government defines Hispanic as an ethnicity, not a race.

The problem with using the word “race” is that many Americans say they don’t know what it means, and how it is different from “origin.” The agency’s focus group research found that some people think the words mean the same thing, while others see race as meaning skin color, ancestry or culture, while origin is the nation or place where they or their parents were born…

…The content test also will experiment with adding a new Middle East and North Africa category. The test represents the bureau’s final major research effort before locking down its proposed 2020 questionnaire wording…

…“I’m very happy that they are going to test a question which gets away from the language of race and ethnicity because frankly that is just a quagmire, that language,” said Ann Morning, an advisory committee member and New York University race scholar. “No two people seem to be able to agree on what those terms mean.”

In follow-up comments in an email, Morning said she believes “the beauty of simply referring to ‘categories’ is that it avoids that problem of people getting hung up on the terminology. So I would expect this term will allow people to answer the question more quickly, and to feel more free to check more than one box if they wish, and to lead to a lower non-response rate on that question.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Study illuminates why multiracial Americans almost never call themselves white

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-18 15:31Z by Steven

Study illuminates why multiracial Americans almost never call themselves white

Vox
2015-06-15

Jenée Desmond-Harris

Look up any article about President Obama that focuses on his role as the first black president.

Go ahead, do it now.

Scroll down to the comments.

I promise you, you’ll find earnest inquiries asking why the president is considered black or biracial when his mother is white. You’ll find people who are sincerely saddened by the idea that he would “reject” her contribution to his heritage. You’ll find people who are legitimately confused about why half black plus half white sometimes equals black and sometimes equals biracial, but rarely if ever seems to equal white…

This is why multiracial people don’t normally identify as white

A new study by Pew Research Center takes a comprehensive look at the experiences of multiracial Americans.  Using a different approach than the census by taking into account people’s parents’ and grandparents’ racial backgrounds in addition to their self-reported race, it concluded that multiracial adults currently make up 6.9 percent of the adult American population.

One of its many findings has to do with multiracial identity, and that age-old question of why mixed-race Americans like Obama and so many others don’t seem to give their white parents’ ethnicity the same weight as their other heritage when it comes to self-description…

The study revealed that people who identify as multiracial say they experience discrimination based on the part of their heritage that is not white. Here’s how Pew explained it in the write-up (emphasis added):

For multiracial adults with a black background, experiences with discrimination closely mirror those of single-race blacks. Among adults who are black and no other race, 57% say they have received poor service in restaurants or other businesses, identical to the share of biracial black and white adults who say this has happened to them; and 42% of single-race blacks say they have been unfairly stopped by the police, as do 41% of biracial black and white adults. Mixed-race adults with an Asian background are about as likely to report being discriminated against as are single-race Asians, while multiracial adults with a white background are more likely than single-race whites to say they have experienced racial discrimination.

This echoes the way Obama has explained why he calls himself black. “I’m not sure I decided it,” he once said in an interview with 60 Minutes. “I think, you know, if you look African-American in this society, you’re treated as an African-American.”

He later told PBS, “If I’m outside your building trying to catch a cab, they’re not saying, ‘Oh, there’s a mixed-race guy.'”…

Read the entire article here.

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One Drop of Love: Written and Performed by: Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-18 01:28Z by Steven

One Drop of Love: Written and Performed by: Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni

2015 TCG National Conference
Theatre Communications Group
Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre, IDEA Center
1375 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio
Friday, 2015-06-19, 20:00 EDT (Local Time)

Produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, this extraordinary one-woman show incorporates filmed images, photographs and animation to tell the story of how the notion of ‘race’ came to be in the United States and how it affects Cox DiGiovanni’s relationship with her father. A moving memoir, One Drop takes audiences from the 1700s to the present, to cities all over the U.S. and to West and East Africa, where both father and daughter spent time in search of their ‘racial’ roots. The ultimate goal of the show is to encourage everyone to discuss ‘race’ and racism openly and critically. Watch the trailer here. The performance will be followed by a brief discussion with Ms. DiGiovanni.

For more information, click here.

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