2010 Census: Think Outside the Box

Having attended James Banks keynote earlier in the week in addition to a few diversity sessions at this years NAIS conference, I had to chuckle when I saw the boxes listed under the question, “What is this person’s race.” A couple of coworkers found it pretty amusing too. I wonder how many white Americans will check the box ‘Some other race’ and fill in Norwegian Irish if that’s what they are?

It says to mark one or more boxes, but for someone like me who is Chinese, Portuguese, and Irish, I’d check the Chinese box, but am not sure what other box to check. I’ve never identified with white and the ‘other Asian’ box doesn’t really fit Portuguese and Irish. This just made me think that when it comes to creating an inclusive classroom community, I hope the kids I teach can identify with whoever they think they are and can laugh whenever they are asked to check a box or two about themselves.

The race question for me is actually easier than the question before it: “Is this person of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?” Read more to find out why.By the definitions of the Dep. of Transportation, or the Small Business Administration, I am Hispanic because they include Portuguese in that description. But the Office of Management and Budget doesn’t include Portuguese heritage in theirs. Different government agencies define it differently. Either way, I’ve also never identified with Hispanic, Latino, nor Spanish. My grandparents spoke Portuguese, in addition to English and Cantonese and passed down many ceremonial and food traditions.

Wikipedia has a great short little history lesson of the term Hispanic.


2 thoughts on “2010 Census: Think Outside the Box

  1. I am curious about how varied identifications will affect political power/resources after the data is collected. That is, if ethnic groups are further disaggregated, will that diminish representation in government programs? And is that bad/good thing. ‘Course, I secretly dream of being a census worker as I love this stuff.

  2. Matt – you can totally be a census worker – they are hiring! You might get yelled at, however, by all the non standard check-box people on Capitol Hill. I chose my law school because it had a blank line rather than check boxes for race (shocking for a VA school). I proudly entered Norwegean-American, for once escaping the “white, non latino” category. If my sister’s daughter gets admitted to our school she will be 1/4 african american and a child of an alum – is that checking two boxes?

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