Civil rights groups are on different pages about the proposed changes that census officials might make to the racial and ethnic categories that appear on the 2020 census.
According to Al-Jazeera, the changes are meant to reconcile the concerns of Hispanic and Arab American groups that don’t feel as if the current slate of racial categories—white, black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian or Native Hawaiian/other Pacific island—accurately represent them.
Some of the proposed changes include “combining the Hispanic ethnicity category with the race question” and also including a new Arab-American racial category.
“[A] growing number of [Hispanics] don’t identify with any of the race categories, and 6.2 percent chose ‘some other race’ in 2010,” the news site reports.
“Hispanics accounted for more than 18.5 million of the 19 million people who checked ‘some other race’ to describe themselves,” it continued.
Many Arab-American groups don’t identify as “black” or “white,” either.
“Many Syrians, Egyptians, Sudanese and other MENA [Middle East and North Africa] groups have a hard time seeing themselves as white or black,” Samer Khalaf, the president of an American-Arab advocacy group, told Al-Jazeera.
Some civil rights groups, however, are concerned that these kinds of changes will tamper with the ability of the census to accurately assess how many nonwhite groups live in the nation. The census is used as a guide for policy decisions, and groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights want to make sure that tweaks will not influence the accuracy of the count.
“Some of the changes under consideration may not produce the detailed count needed to enforce anti-discrimination laws and compare data over time, according to leaders of African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic and Arab-American groups,” Al-Jazeera explained.
Civil rights groups want the changes to undergo further rounds of edits and “government testing.”
Read more at Al-Jazeera.