The Census Race Question Isn't Working

Thinkstock/Getty Images
Thinkstock/Getty Images

Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page highlights the problems with relying on a race-classification system created in a different era.

A notable example of how Americans fall through the cracks in census data-gathering caught my eye recently. It appeared on the black-oriented website under this intriguing headline: "I found one drop; can I be black now?"

The "one drop" is a reference to the old oddly American racial rule that one drop of "black blood" in your veins makes you black. As a full-fledged black American, I wondered who is so eager to join the club? …

It has only been since 2000, for example, that mixed-race people are allowed to check more than one racial box on the U.S. census. And that's just one area of government forms not keeping up with America's changing demographics.

On question No. 9 in the 2010 form, for example, you can check "white" or "black, African-American or Negro" or "American Indian or Alaska Native." Then there are 11 other choices that are ethnic nationalities in Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Read Clarence Page's entire piece at the Chicago Tribune.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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