Thursday, November 21, 2019

Census Considers Putting ‘Latino’ in Race Category

Latino Flags
Sparked by the historic growth in the U.S. Latino population according to the 2012 United States Census, the entity is considering making Latinos an option on their own in the race category. Latinos now make up 16.7% of the population, surpassing Blacks as the largest minority group in the U.S.

Their decision to make a change from having Latino as an ethnic background in the “Ethnicity” category instead of in the “Race” category is currently meeting strong opposition from Latino advocacy groups, who feel like the current option, which offers Latinos check-off boxes for their national origins, is more accurate.

“There is no unanimity on what any of this stuff means,” says Angelo Falcon, Director of the National Institute for Latino Policy and co-chair of a coalition of Latino advocacy groups that, as La Plaza reported, recently met with Census officials. “Right now, we’re very comfortable with having the Hispanic (origin) question. Hispanic as a race category? I don’t think there’s any consensus on that.”

The new Census format would allow others to list their national origin under the race category, for example, Guatemalan, Dominican, Jamaican, or Irish. According to Census officials, this would allow for more inclusion of Middle Easterners and North Africans, who do not currently identify with a particular race.

“People are asking for ways to express their identities,” says Nicholas Jones, chief of the Census Racial Statistics branch, who says that some respondents view their Hispanic origin as their race rather than an ethnic group. “A combined question (race and origin) approach is more in line with how Hispanics identify and view themselves.”

Unfortunately with such a large number of individuals making up such a diverse population in the country, the answer to a decision such as this one is not an easy one.

“As new immigrant groups came to this country decade after decade, how we measure ethnicity changed to reflect the changing composition of the country,” says Robert Groves, Provost at Georgetown University. “Since that change is never ending and America gets more and more diverse, how we understand and tabulate the information has to be continually open to change.”

USA Today