Charles Breiterman's picture

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  by  Charles Breiterman

It’s 2010, and that means it’s time for the Census that is required every 10 years by the Constitution (Article I, Section 2).

Probably the most outdated and lamentable question on the census is the one that asks about our race. On the 2000 Census, it was question #8:

2000 Census questionnaire

The question asks, “What race do you consider yourself to be?” I would select “Some other race” and write in, “American.” I hope I did that in the year 2000. I don’t remember.

Many NumbersUSA members will be in full agreement with Carol6467 of Texas, who commented on one of Roy’s blogs in July:

I believe the real racists in America are those who continuously try to “break us down” into differing nationalities. WE ARE ALL AMERICANS. My ancestry comes from many different countries (even native Americans); however, I am just an American. Yes, I am proud of my heritage, but it does NOT define me. … Please, join me in being “JUST AN AMERICAN.” Let’s stand up for our right to be people who accept the fact that we were all created equal. Beyond that, whether we succeed or fail, we are still Americans.

The gentleman featured in this video at time index 1:34 would probably agree. He says, "No, no, no. You can't refer to us as African-Americans. Because I'm an American. That's what I want to be referred to- as an American."

There are race-based, ethnic separatist organizations out there, such as La Raza “The Race,” that thrive so long as people focus on their racial and/or ethnic identity. Their power is related to the size of the race-based group they claim to represent. So they try to divide us, they try to bring in more people of their group as immigrants, and they try to keep them from becoming Americans. The agenda of these organizations is contrary to the word “United” in the name of our nation.

Michael Lind's book, The Next American Nation, was published in 1994. In that book he pleaded,

Four centuries of racial labeling are enough. Let the U.S. Census of 2000 A.D. be the first in American history that does not ask citizens to identify themselves by the quasi-fictive categories of race.

-- (The Next American Nation p. 306).

The Census Bureau has not headed his words. Not only was the question present on the 2000 Census, but it will be on the 2010 Census:

2010 Census questionnaire

They’ve changed the question slightly. Now they are asking, “What race are you.” My friend’s great grandparents were from China and settled in Hawaii. She has lived her entire life in Oregon, has never been to China, and doesn’t speak Chinese. Is she supposed to check “Chinese”? The question doesn’t ask, “what race were your ancestors?” It asks you what race you are.

People who are themselves from, or whose ancestors were from, the Philippines, Vietnam, China, Japan and some other nations each get their own boxes to check. My ancestors were from Romania and the Ukraine. Why am I just “White”? It sounds too much like, “You all look the same to me.”

There were questions on the year 2000 Census long form such as:

-What is your ancestry or ethnic origin? (question 10)
-Where were you born? (question 12)

These questions could fit inside the large space allotted to the race question on the 2010 Census form, and replace the question. They ask what your ancestors were, or what your origin was, but they allow you to be an American now. And those questions yield a lot of the information required to make an inference about race.

If the government really needs to ask specifically about race, the question could be moved to the 2010 long form, which is now part of the “American Community Survey,” a separate, smaller census program that produces highly reliable data. The government should be a force promoting national unity. Instead it promotes disunity by asking every single American to categorize him or herself by race. And the race question is the one that gets the largest geographic area on the entire census form!1

In answer to the question, “what race are you,” I would choose “Some other race,” and write in “American.” My friend from Oregon, who is less concerned about immigration than I am, but would enforce the law by truly penalizing employers, would answer, “Some other race,” and write in “Human.” Either one of these is better than what the census is looking for. People can make a point of choosing to write in either “American” or “Human” in answer to the race question on the 2010 Census.

CHARLES BREITERMAN is an attorney and writer/researcher for NumbersUSA


1The question that gets the second largest amount of space is asking whether you are of Hispanic origin. But that question could certainly be covered with a more general, “what is your ancestry or ethnic origin?” Together, the race and Hispanic questions take up 30% of the space allotted to the 10 questions on the form, according to measurements with a ruler of the form on a computer screen.

Updated: Sun, Jan 3rd 2010 @ 9:57pm EST

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