A Heads Up to the Multiracial Community-IMPORTANT

A Heads Up to the Multiracial Community-IMPORTANT

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Not all leadership in the Multiracial Community are looking out for your best interests. Be very careful. One “leader” took a position recently about a report that came out by an unofficial source, a slick report called “Race and Ethnicity in the 2020 Census: Improving Data to Capture a Multiethnic America.” What’s wrong with that? Plenty is wrong in the 36-page tome and who is promoting it.

First, the small collaboration that supports this report is made up of three small organizations: The Leadership Conference Educational Fund (LCEF), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), and the National Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

Let’s look at the LCEF. Its president and CEO is Wade Henderson. Gosh that name sounds familiar! Ohhhhhh, wait, Henderson was the Washington Bureau director of the NAACP back when we were fighting for a place at the table and for multiracial people. He was adamantly against a multiracial box and/or multiple check-off boxes.

The AAJC is afraid of losing population numbers, just like the rest of us. I’m not sure they belong on this bandwagon except when it comes to adding Asian sub-identifiers.

NALEO is Arturo Vargas’ organization. Uh oh, his name is familiar, too. He’s on the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations. Arturo is a likeable guy—unless you cross him and/or the Hispanic population. They do deserve a place on the NAC Committee, and in this report, although it is just another reminder that the Census Bureau is really running the show instead of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where the decisions on race and ethnicity are really made. Arturo is the guy to do this, and we’re glad they didn’t choose somebody else like a Hispanic/Latino advocate who is pretending to represent the multiracial community.

Speaking of the Census Bureau, Terri Ann Lowenthal was the principal author of the report. Big surprise (yawn). Terri Ann was a staffer for Representative Thomas Sawyer during the 1990s. She was no friend of the multiracial community, although she shared with me once that she had a “mixed” kid. She left the government so that she could work for the government. Yes, you read that right. She became a kind of consultant to OMB, the Census Bureau. She is a good soldier and writes whatever the bureaucrats want her to write.

One more interesting thing about this report is that “the staff of the U.S. Census Bureau” helped with this report. OK, so the usual suspects are in bed together again and still. Business as usual. Just don’t get too cozy thinking this is an independent undertaking.

I’ve read the report—twice, so you don’t have to, It’s a big report in very small type, but I urge you to come to your own conclusions. You can read it here: http://civilrightsdocs.info/pdf/reports/Census-Report-2014-WEB.pdf

My job is to go through these things for you and report the truth. I have highlighted the most important parts. I do believe that anyone commenting on the report should read it thoroughly and report back to the multiracial community on those things that concern us, not only one race or ethnicity (i.e. the Hispanic question). So here we go.

First, the writers pat everyone on the back. They applaud everyone from A to Z, but that’s the custom. If you ever get a chance, listen to any Census Bureau Internet webcast and hear it for yourself. You’ll feel like a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader.

I will say that the report gives excellent background on the history of the U.S. Census until it gets to page 4, which is also the first of only a handful of times the word “multiracial” is used. The point of reading through all the text is to get to the standards that were set by the 2000 census, but then comes the BIG OMISSION: it gives the five racial categories and two ethnicity questions, and doesn’t as much as mention the big deal of checking two or more races! Trust me, it was the question leading up to the 2000 census, and they completely overlook it in an important place in the report.

So what does this all mean to us? It means that sometime between September, 2015 and April 1, 2017, revisions could (and let’s face it, will) set off an OMB review. They do this via a Federal Register notice, which will only be seen by those OMB intends for it to seen by. We are not on their list. Why? Because the one guy, Brian Harris-Kojetin, who handles these things at OMB will not answer our calls and emails. Hmmpffff, we’ve been ignored by bigger people! Like Nicholas Jones, who is the Chief of Racial and Ethnic whatever at the Census Bureau. The multiracial community is precisely the kind of stakeholder that should be notified so we can write letters.

PUT A NOTE ON YOUR CALENDER AFTER SEPTEMBER 1, 2015 TO CHECK BACK WITH PROJECT RACE ABOUT WHEN YOU WILL NEED TO WRITE A LETTER TO OMB. WE’LL TELL YOU EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW. THAT’S THE ONE CHANCE WHEN YOU WILL BE ABLE TO HELP THE MULTIRACIAL COMMUNITY WITH THE 2020 U.S. CENSUS!!!

They talk about AQE testing, which is yet another acronym for something that means testing. OK, I can share. It stands for Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment. They go into requests for new categories (i.e. MENA, which stands for people of Middle Eastern and North African descent), voting rights, redistricting, employment, education, fair housing, healthcare, poverty, and even criminal justice and how they are all affected by clarity in civil rights. They sum it up thusly: “First, for purposes of implementing and enforcing many civil rights laws—especially in the voting rights arena—data on the Hispanic or Latino population are treated on par with data on the five race groups, experts note.” Wait a minute. Where are the multiracial groups, which they refer to as “combination people”? Oh, that’s right. They don’t take our group into consideration for civil rights matters.

Stay with me now. Here it comes. Right on page 17:

 

“The updated Education Department categories do

not ask Hispanics to report a race; they also collapse

multiple race responses into one, unspecific category of

“Two or more races,” instead of assigning multiracial

individuals to their respective race choices.(Endnote 65) The latter

practice is especially worrisome to civil rights data users,

given the growth in the multiracial and multiethnic

populations. The percentage of the population reporting

multiple races grew by nearly a third (32 percent) between

2000 and 2010, compared to an overall 10 percent

growth in the U.S. population.(Endnote 66) Failure to capture multiple

race responses as part of specific race groups can

adversely affect the ability of educational institutions to

meet minority student enrollment thresholds under various

education programs.”

 

Do we really need to be reminded of what a mess the Department of Education (DOE) made with their interpretation of OMBs guidelines and the fact that OMB left enough loopholes land for them to do this? They don’t even mention that the Census Bureau not only collapses multiple race responses into one, unspecified category of “Two or more races,” but calls us Two or More Race (TOMR!!) people. This entire paragraph is unnecessary unless the authors are looking to follow DOEs horrible civil rights injustices like taking students who check Hispanic and anything else and making them only Hispanic. They conclude that: “Civil rights advocates note that census race and ethnicity data are the most comprehensive, objective tool for understanding the intersection of issues that can be barriers to equality of opportunity and social justice.” Oh yes! We get that, but are we included? Not so much.

We finally get to the RECOMMENDATIONS chapter. What are these folks trying to get to? What do they want to see? Let’s look at the question of whether there should be a combined format question. It’s really none of our business with the exception of whether they would retabulate the Hispanic numbers into only one category, in which case, it certainly is our business because we would lose numbers. We can play this game, too, if only we were invited to play. On the MENA question, again, not our business unless….By the way, if they decide not to add the MENA category, watch them blame us–little, insignificant in every other way, us.

There it is: our BIGGEST problem. They don’t have any recommendations about the multiracial community. They don’t address the evil retabulation. They don’t say a word about our request to be recognized respectfully as “multiracial,” and not “combination people,” “Two or More Races” (TOMR) folks, or their other name, the “Mark One or More” (MOOM) population.

My very favorite paragraph of the entire report comes on page 19:

 

“Stakeholder Engagement

  1. The Census Bureau and OMB should keep civil rights

stakeholders apprised of research and testing plans and

outcomes, and establish opportunities for meaningful

and timely dialogue and consultation with civil rights

leaders, experts, and organizations, before key decisions

are made with respect to the 2020 census race and

ethnicity questions and the Standards for Classification

of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity and related

implementation guidance.”

 

We’re civil rights stakeholders. All I could note in the space next to that paragraph is, “NO SHIT.”

There are 17 recommendations in all. But the endnotes are fun, too. For example, the report refers to a day-long roundtable in July 2014 hosted by the three organizations that ordered this report. It refers to them as “respected” civil rights yada, yada, yadas, Endnote 4 adds this tidbit:

The July 31, 2014, roundtable, “Race and Ethnicity

Data in the 2020 Census: Ensuring Useful Data

for Civil Rights Purposes,” was an invitation-only,

closed door, and off-the-record event. It took place in

Washington, DC.”

 

OK, full disclosure, but come on! It sure sounds like they are pretty proud of their special invitation only, closed door, and off-the-record selves. I certainly understand how multiracial population leaders would not want to do the in-depth work to detangle this mess. Yes, this is still about the multiracial group. We don’t mind playing bad cop to a good cop, as long as that cop is doing the same in-depth work that we’re doing. It’s only fair.

Susan Graham

Executive Director

Project RACE

 

 

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