Nothing seems to rile my audience more than the Census. Some see it as government intrusion into privacy. Others see it as just one more excuse for a bigger government. Remember they sell it as a way to ensure your community gets its fair share of federal money (social justice), or maybe a guidepost to political payoffs (pork projects).
But perhaps my biggest objection is to the section that asks you to check off your race and, separately, ethnicity. The list is long:
The standards include five minimum categories for data on race: “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Asian,” “Black or African American,” “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander,” and “White.” There are two minimum categories for data on ethnicity: “Hispanic or Latino” and “Not Hispanic or Latino.” The concept of race reflects self-identification by people according to the race or races with which they most closely identify. Persons who report themselves as Hispanic can be of any race and are identified as such in our data tables.
My personal view is that it’s just another way to divide the nation, or to perpetuate the notion of special classes that need the government to survive. The absurdity of it all is demonstrated perfectly in this report by MSNBC this afternoon … one family, successful as well, with different views about who they are, when who they are, is American.
No doubt the government won’t see the absurdity of it all and will add yet another question on race. Why do they do this still? The Census website gives the following explanation
Race is key to implementing any number of federal programs and it is critical for the basic research behind numerous policy decisions. States require race data to meet legislative redistricting requirements. Also, they are needed to monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act by local jurisdictions.
Federal programs rely on race data in assessing racial disparities in housing, income, education, employment, health, and environmental risks.
The reasoning in 2010 is pathetic. Redistricting because whites, can’t represent latino’s who can’t represent blacks who can’t represent whites, and on and on it goes? Welcome to post racial America. And what of the programs that assess disparities in income et al? To what end? Spread the wealth around, create another government program, reward particular constituencies?
At what point do we begin identifying all as Americans, I do not know. But it seems as if the government continues because, as the Census site explains, it’s good for business, government business.