Let’s play a game called “How many ridiculous elements can you find in the 2010 U.S. Census Race form!” Study the photo below and chuckle. I’ll start, and you add on.
1.) There is no box at all for Arab or Middle Eastern.
2.) Where do Cape Verdeans (a Portuguese-creole-speaking island off Africa with a big population in Boston) check?
4.) Should European “Spaniard” really be under “Latino/Hispanic”? There are entire college courses dedicated to this debate, but if we’re talking about Latin American origin when we say “Latino,” “Brazilian” should be on the list. If we’re talking Latin origin languages, European Italians and Romanians should be on there, too.
5.) Why is “Asian Indian” its own category, but “Pakistani” is under the flippant category of “Other Asian”? They used to be the same country! Further, the whole tone of “Some Other Race,” is just downright sassy!
6.) Where do Haitians, Jamaicans, and people from the West Indies in general (who comprise large populations in New England) check?
7.) Overall, it seems that this Census form has the whole concept of Race and Ethnicity conflated and convoluted. From my studies, I’ve learned that “Race“ has to do with visual characteristics (ex: skin color, and face and hair characteristics), and is sometimes divided in the five categories: Caucasiod, Congoid, Capoid, Mongloid, and Australiod. “Ethnicity,” on the other hand, has more to do with one’s country or human-divided region of origin (ex: Canadian).
8.) Therefore, to be more accurate (though perhaps just as ridiculous), there should be a “Race” section addressing physical characteristics (ex: matching one’s skin color from a display… which would cause an uproar of course, but which would be more accurate), an “Ethnicity” section for country of origin (with follow-up questions for country of origin of parents and ancestors), and a “Language” section which would address the “Latino/Hispanic” question more completely.
9.) Now let’s take a moment to realize how different each country’s concept of Race and Ethnicity is! When my brother was volunteering at a school in Brazil, he witnessed, horrified, entire lessons dedicated to correctly naming the color of each little child’s skin. In America, it’s rude to discuss such things! But physical differences do exist, and it’s ultimately more accurate to describe them than to skirt around it like this bumbling Census form does!
10.) All right… You take it from here. What else can we say about our poor, misguided Census 2010 Race Form?
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!