image from; [JB - but don't tell the Martians that :)]
Given that the presidential election has caused a greater-than-usual interest in the so-called "white" population of the USA (see, for example, columnist Gerson's recent question, "is the American 'us' determined by skin pigment and Anglo-Saxon cultural heritage, as George Wallace would have described it?"), the below might be of interest.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census of Population, P94-171 Redistricting Data File. Updated every 10 years. http://factfinder.census.gov U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates Program (PEP), Updated annually. https://www.census.gov/popest/.
The U.S. Census Bureau collects race data in accordance with guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and these data are based on self-identification. The racial categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include racial and national origin or sociocultural groups. People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as "American Indian" and "White." People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race. For more information, please go to 2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File Technical documention., Appendix B, Race.
The racial classifications used by the Census Bureau adhere to the October 30, 1997, Federal Register notice entitled, "Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity" issued by OMB. These standards govern the categories used to collect and present federal data on race and ethnicity. OMB requires five minimum categories (White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander) for race. The race categories are described in Appendix B with a sixth category, "Some Other Race," added with OMB approval. In addition to the five race groups, OMB also states that respondents should be offered the option of selecting one or more races.
The April 1, 2010 Census population by race and Hispanic origin are the "Census" values, and do not include a separate row for persons who said they were "Some Other Race." To access the Some Other Race category value for the April 1, 2010 Census go to American Fact Finder, and see the 2010 Demographic Profile Data.
The Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program (PEP) produces estimates of the population for the United States, its states, counties, cities, and towns, as well as for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its municipios (county-equivalents for Puerto Rico). Additionally, housing unit estimates are produced for the nation, states, and counties. The timing of the release of estimates varies according to the level of geography. The schedule of releases is available at https://www.census.gov/popest/schedule.html.
Population estimates use the race categories mandated by the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) 1997 standards: White; Black or African American; American Indian and Alaska Native; Asian; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. These race categories differ from those used in Census 2010 in one important respect. Census 2010 also allowed respondents to select the category referred to as Some Other Race. When Census 2010 data were edited to produce the estimates base, respondents who selected the Some Other Race category alone were assigned to one of the OMB mandated categories. For those respondents who selected the Some Other Race category and one or more of the other race categories, the edits ignored the Some Other Race selection. This editing process produced tabulations from our estimates that show fewer people reporting two or more races than similar tabulations from Census 2010, because respondents who selected Some Other Race and one of the OMB mandated races in Census 2010 appear in the single OMB race category in the estimates base.
These values reflect updates to Census data from Count Question Resolution program revisions, any geographic changes that were incorporated since the census date, and the results of other Census operations. Further, we modified race categories to redistribute "Some other race" responses into the five Office of Management and Budget (OMB) race categories "alone or in combination." For more information see: Modified Race Summary File Methodology.
The availability of demographic detail (age, sex, race and Hispanic origin) varies by geographic level. For the nation, states, and counties, population estimates are available by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin. For cities and towns (incorporated places and minor civil divisions), population estimates by demographic detail is available through QuickFacts - 2010 Census. For Puerto Rico and its municipios, population estimates are available by age and sex; race and Hispanic origin data are available through QuickFacts - 2010 Census.
The concept of race is separate from the concept of Hispanic origin. Percentages for the various race categories add to 100 percent, and should not be combined with the percent Hispanic.
White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as "White" or report entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Arab, Moroccan, or Caucasian. [JB comment: not exactly a "homogeneous" group ...]
Black or African American. A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as "Black, African Am., or Negro"; or report entries such as African American, Kenyan, Nigerian, or Haitian.
American Indian and Alaska Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment. This category includes people who indicate their race as "American Indian or Alaska Native" or report entries such as Navajo, Blackfeet, Inupiat, Yup'ik, or Central American Indian groups or South American Indian groups.
Asian. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. It includes people who indicate their race as "Asian Indian," "Chinese," "Filipino," "Korean," "Japanese," "Vietnamese," and "Other Asian" or provide other detailed Asian responses.
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. It includes people who indicate their race as "Native Hawaiian," "Guamanian or Chamorro," "Samoan," and "Other Pacific Islander" or provide other detailed Pacific Islander responses.
Two or more races. People may have chosen to provide two or more races either by checking two or more race response check boxes, by providing multiple responses, or by some combination of check boxes and other responses.
White House wants to add new racial category for Middle Eastern people - Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"
The White House is putting forward a proposal to add a new racial category for people from the Middle East and North Africa under what would be the biggest realignment of federal racial definitions in decades.
If approved, the new designation could appear on census forms in 2020 and could have far-reaching implications for racial identity, anti-discrimination laws and health research.
Under current law, people from the Middle East are considered white, the legacy of century-old court rulings in which
Syrian Americans argued that they should not be considered Asian — because that designation would deny them citizenship under the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. But scholars and community leaders say more and more people with their roots in the Middle East find themselves caught between white, black and Asian classifications that don't fully reflect their identities.
"What it does is it helps these communities feel less invisible," said Helen Samhan of the Arab American Institute, which has been advocating the change for more than 30 years. "It’s a good step, a positive step."
On Friday, the
White House Office of Management and Budget advanced the proposal with a notice in the Federal Register, seeking comments on whether to add Middle Eastern and North African as a separate racial or ethnic category, which groups would be included, and what it should be called.
Under the proposal, the new Middle East and North African designation — or MENA, as it's called by population scholars — is broader in concept than Arab (an ethnicity) or Muslim (a religion). It would include anyone from a region of the world stretching from Morocco to Iran, and including Syrian and
Coptic Christians, Israeli Jews and other religious minorities.
But the Census Bureau, which has been quietly studying the issue for two years, also has gotten caught up in debates about some groups — such as Turkish, Sudanese and Somali Americans — who aren't included in that category. Those are issues the White House is trying to resolve before adding the box on 2020 census forms.
Adding a box on the census form could have implications beyond racial identity. According to the White House notice, the new data could be used for a wide range of political and policy purposes, including:
• Enforcing the
Voting Rights Act and drawing congressional and state legislative district boundaries;
• Establishing federal affirmative action plans and evaluating claims of employment discrimination in employment in the private sector;
• Monitoring discrimination in housing, mortgage lending and credit;
• Enforcing school desegregation policies; and
• Helping minority-owned small businesses get federal grants and loans.
Adding the classification also would help the government and independent scholars understand more about trends in health, employment and education.
"We can't even ask questions like that, because we don't have the data," said Germine Awad, an Egyptian-American and professor of educational psychology at the
University of Texas at Austin.
The racial classifications have been unchanged since 1997, and Michigan's congressional delegation has argued that they're due for an update. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said Friday the White House action was good news. Adding a MENA category, she said, would allow many of her Michigan constituents to "accurately identify themselves and access the employment, health, education and representation services that are based on census data.”
There are an estimated 3.6 million
Arab-Americans in the United States, but that doesn't include other ethnic groups that could put the total Middle Eastern and North African population above 10 million. According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey — a survey conducted in between the 10-year census cycle based on a statistical sample — about 1 million people from the region are first-generation immigrants to the United States.
In the 2010 census, many Middle Easterners skipped the question entirely — an action some activists encouraged as a form of silent protest. "Check it right; you ain't white," went one campaign.
"You have individuals within this designation that would consider themselves white, and they certainly have a right to their identity. It’s not about identity in the psychological way. It’s about where would you fit the best on this form," Awad said. "If you talk to anybody at the census, they’ll tell you that their job is not to help anybody with their racial or ethnic identity."
And some, especially in the
Muslim-American community, are also concerned about how the data might be used — especially given proposals by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for a moratorium on Muslim immigrants and for increased surveillance of Muslim communities.
"It just aids and facilitates the state's ability to know where these communities are in a very specific fashion," said Khalid Beydoun, a law professor at the
University of Detroit. "My inclination is to think that individuals who might identify might not check the box for fear of retribution — especially if Trump wins."
But Beydoun, a naturalized citizen with Egyptian and Lebanese parents, said he still supports the proposal as an expression of Middle Eastern identity.
"In the grand scheme of things, it’s really a progressive stride forward," he said. "But in the broader landscape, it’s taking place in the context of greater animus against Arab Americans, and really, Islamophobia."
Comments on the proposal are due in 30 days, making it possible for the
Obama administration to enact the change in the last three months of a presidency that has spent considerable effort to be more inclusive of Arab-Americans and other Middle Easterners.
"I think with him being the first African-American president and being an obvious example of making the American fabric more diverse, that this could be great sign of inclusion about what it means to be an American," Awad said.