My parents were filling out the U.S. Census a few nights ago when they reached a question that stumped them both—the race question. The Census requires that individuals “answer BOTH Question 8 about Hispanic origin and Question 9 about race” and states that for purposes of the 2010 Census, “Hispanic origins are not races.”
Question 8 asks:
Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?
–No, not of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin
–Yes, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano
–Yes, Puerto Rican
–Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin –Print origin, for example, Argentinean, Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadorian, Spaniard, and so on.
Question 9 asks:
What is Person 1’s race?
–Black, African Am., or Negro
–American Indian or Alaska Native –Print name of enrolled or principal tribe.
–Guamanian or Chamorro
–Other Pacific Islander
–Some other race – Print race.
My parents had no difficulty answering Question 8. They are both from the Dominican Republic so they checked “Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” and printed “Dominican” in the box provided. They did not know how to respond to Question 9, however. My father, whose phenotype is that of a light-skinned Black man, wanted to select “White” because he equates Black with African-American. My mother wanted to select “Black” because, in her view, “White” refers to Caucasian and, although her grandfather was a Spaniard, her grandmother was of African descent. Confused, my parents asked their four adult daughters, all of whom were born and raised in the U.S., how we self-identified in the Census. Three of us checked “Black” and one checked both “Black” and “White.” My father finally agreed to check “Black,” not because he identifies as such, but because there were no other “adequate choices.” When I asked him what race he would have selected had it been listed, he responded “Latino.” For him, and many other Latinos, his race is not White, Black, or American Indian, but Latino—the result of a mixing of European (mostly Spaniard), African (brought as slaves to the Americas), and the indigenous people of the Americas (for example, Taino, Aztec, Mayan, etc.) Read More