New Head of OMB Confirmed
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the part of the federal government that decides on racial and ethnic categories, not the U.S. Census Bureau. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina was tapped to be the new head of OMB by President Trump, who held a news conference today (February 16. 2017) and said, “And also as you probably heard just a little while ago, Mick Mulvaney, former congressman, has just been approved weeks late, I have to say that, weeks, weeks late, Office of Management and Budget. And he will be I think a fantastic addition.” We will just have to wait and see.
What will President-Elect Trump do for or against the Multiracial Community?
by Susan Graham
Since November 8th I’ve seen the so called “leaders” in the so called “multiracial community” avoid this question. The majority of them are Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, or something other than Republicans. They are all over the map geographically. They like to call themselves “academics” and give that as a reason to avoid writing real political papers. Now that they have confused what the academics think, they slink back into their tiny university closets and lock the doors.
If you read any of the online community sources like Facebook, Mixed Studies, Swirl. MASC and more, you have a hard time finding anything other than pleas for money, reviews about the “Loving” movie, or pros and cons about President Obama’s personal racial identification. Let me digress for a moments and add my own feelings on this. I would have loved nothing more than for Barack Obama to embrace a multiracial identity, but he just wasn’t feeling it, his reason being what his white mother and black father advised him, how his white grandparents raised him, how politics work best, or any other number of things. Our loss.
We can’t talk about the election without bringing in Hillary Clinton. She never did anything for the multiracial population and trust me, she was asked several times, as was her husband when he was President. So, she didn’t actually cancel out our community, she ignored us, which was worse. The Clintons were so pro-minority that they were clearly in favor of the one-drop rule by default. An office in Harlem and a residential compound in the white area of town. Maybe that makes them think they are some kind of multiracial citizens. And I really do like them!
Speaking of liking people, I believe you can like someone and not have the same political views that they do. Honest. I like a few Republicans because I can pick and choose individuals who I like from groups of people without selecting an entire group.
Let’s look at where things stand for the multiracial community now. Yeah, I’m sharing with the people in the movement who are clueless—you know who you are and so do we. I don’t “report” on what multiracial star is mad at who, stories about families in Zimbabwe, or the history of Thomas Jefferson, so I’ll keep it to policy issues if you know what those are.
OMB, which stands for Office of Management and Budget has a director. His name is Shaun Donovan. He’s never returned our calls, letters, or emails. He would much rather we just didn’t exist. Oh, wait a minute! President Elect Trump has nominated a new OMB Director, along with the new regime. His name isRep. Mick Mulvaney (R.-S.C.). Max Stier wrote in The Hill,
”While OMB has a reputation for being “the agency of no” because of its role protecting the president and the administration’s budget and policy priorities, it can do more to clarify where agency leaders have flexibility to test new approaches, identify areas that are off-limits, provide air cover to test new ideas without fear of reprisals and serve as an incubator for change.”
What might this mean? Actually, your guess is as good as mine with this new president. But wouldn’t it be nice if they did some real housecleaning at the OMB and The Census Bureau?! Can you imagine what life would be like without Nicholas Jones in it? Now that would be a nice indication of smaller government.
By the way, Katherine Wallman at OMB retired January 1st, just in time to make decisions on race and ethnicity issues. She’s the same Wallman who pretty much screwed us over when it came to nomenclature and tabulation of “two or more races” in the 1990s. Could things get better? Nah.
They could actually do away with the Census Bureau if it wouldn’t mean all those lost jobs for Washington demographers and statisticians. But on the other hand, does this government have a real need to know where all the Muslims and Jewish citizens and immigrants live? Maybe, just maybe there will still be a working Congress with some possible roadblocks. Perhaps some checks and balances will work just a bit.
Oh, and one more thing. There is a public hearing this week in Chicago hosted by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which is involved in decision making for the multiracial population. Good luck trying to get information on it. If you do, please let us know. After all, we can’t know everything.
MASC Did WHAT!
I have a lovely wood recognition plaque in my office given to me in 1995 from the Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC). It hangs right under a letter to Project RACE and the Association of Multi-Ethnic Americans also dated 1995 and signed by President Bill Clinton. We were known then as MASC, Project RACE, and AMEA. MASC apparently no longer advocates for the multiracial community, Project RACE does, and AMEA is defunct. A great deal has happened in the past 25 plus years. Not all of it is good.
I will forever defend the work of Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally), but most of you know the history of the multiracial movement, so I won’t go back over that now. Suffice it to say that different organizations went different ways, but we all—or at least it seemed—wanted some form of recognition for the term “multiracial.” We were making progress. AMEA fell apart. Hapas moved on. MAVIN couldn’t decide what it wanted to be and the founder disappeared. The academics saw a way to “get published or perish” and began publishing papers and books like crazy with or without actual facts. Podcasts popped up, Loving Day gained momentum, and even comics took their best shots at us. We somehow endured. Project RACE kept doing what we did in 1990 and advocated for a multiracial identifier on racial classifications. We won some; we lost some.
Now it’s 2016 and decisions must be made by 2017 for the 2020 census. It must be done quickly for many reasons, which is why OMB issued a 30 day notice instead of the usual 60+. One more chance to take our best shot.
Then a few weeks ago the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the government people who decide on race and ethnicity in this country published a notice in the Federal Register, that obscure publication that half-heartedly asks for public opinion, suggesting that John Q. Public let them know what they think of the proposed plans. They laid out (as best they could) these areas under consideration:
- Whether to continue to have one category for Hispanic origin and one for race, or one combined answer;
- Have a distinct new category for respondents of Middle Eastern or North African heritage (MENA);
- The description of the intended use of minimum reporting categories; and
- Terminology used for race and ethnicity classifications.
Look back at those areas of consideration. Number 1 has been on the table for years and it is already a done deal. Number 2 has been in contention since before the multiracial question even came up, but it’s become a messier MENA category than previously. I’m not sure what number 3 even means completely.
Then…BINGO! Number 4 gives us a chance to bring up terminology again.
Project RACE jumps on the terminology question, gathers our members and supporters, and starts our answers to the open comment period! We gain momentum and wait for other “multiracial groups” to join in. MASC. The MULTIRACIAL Americans of Southern California stuns us. They openly advocated for number 1, the Hispanic race/ethnicity question.
Thomas Lopez is the president of MASC. He strongly favors Hispanics becoming a race instead of an ethnicity on forms. There are many reasons for the combined question to be considered. There are still organized groups fighting for it and the MENA question. Lopez glosses over consideration 4 with this: “In a combined question format this would simply be another version of ‘Two or more races.’” This would have been the perfect place to advocate for multiracial wording—for an acceptable, respectful term for our children. What were Lopez and the board of directors of MASC thinking?! Apparently, they should change their name to:
The Hispanic and Two or More Races Americans of Southern California
U.S. Census FACT
John H. Thompson is the Director of the Census Bureau. He’s the big shot. He has been sending out updates about planning for the 2020 Census. He recently gave this update about their goals:
- Increase reporting in the race and ethnic categories as defined by the U. S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
- Increase the accuracy and reliability of the results, and
- Elicit detailed responses for all racial and ethnic communities (e.g., Chinese, Mexican, Jamaican, Lebanese, etc.).
He also said this:
“We’re also engaging in an ongoing discussion about race and ethnicity among statistical agencies and various population stakeholder groups.”
Oh geez, did the multiracial community—a population stakeholder—miss a meeting? Nah, we were never invited. By the way, Director Thompson also had a lovely meeting in sunny Mexico recently with Hispanic stakeholders. From the pictures, he looked like he was having a great time!
The multiracial community must understand the games played between OMB and the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau does what they feel is the appropriate “testing.” They give the results to OMB with their suggestions. OMB then adopts the suggestions of the Census Bureau. Then one points to the other if a population group is not happy. Welcome to the bureaucracy in Washington.
Monthly Update: Making a Difference
Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down Report
A Heads Up to the Multiracial Community-IMPORTANT
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
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:
- 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
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
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.
What is so maddening about this is that the U. S. Department of Education still refuses to use the term “multiracial” in their data. What civil rights do multiracial people have if they are not part of the data used to determine discrimination?! No doubt, OMB will approve this. -Susan
Education Department to Delay New Civil Rights Data Survey Questions
In response to a slew of complaints from schools and districts, the U.S. Department of Education is planning to delay for two years a significant expansion of its civil-rights data collection that asked more questions about student discipline and bullying.
The Education Department had wanted to dig deeper into school discipline and other issues starting in the 2013-14 school year. But now, that information won’t be required until the 2015-16 school year, according to new documents posted on the office for civil rights’ website.
Data points that will be delayed include: the number of incidents of violent and serious crimes, number of school days missed by students who received out-of-school suspensions, and number of allegations of harassment or bullying on the basis of sexual orientation or religion.
Reporting that data will be optional. And the department says in its Dec. 4 Federal Register response that it will use the extra time to “provide intensive technical assistance to schools and school districts so they will be prepared to provide accurate data when required for the 2015-16 collection.”
The Education Department, which received nearly 300 comments on the proposed new questions, said “many of the commenters who raised concerns about the proposed data collection focused on the need for more notice and lead time to provide comprehensive and accurate data…”
In a statement today, the department told me: “The proposed additions and changes to the 2013-14 and 2015-16 [data collection] reflect the need for a deeper understanding of and accurate data about the educational opportunities and school context for our nation’s students.”
Indeed, accuracy of the civil rights’ data has been a problem. The data collection became public last year for the first time, and reports school-level data that often can’t be found anywhere else on everything from course-taking to grade-level retention.
Federal officials, however, are keeping a few new questions for the 2013-14 year, including ones about chronic absenteeism, distance education, and the cost to parents of preschool and kindergarten programs. (Schools and districts will answer the survey questions in the fall of 2014, which will reflect data from the 2013-14 academic year.)
Final approval of this new data collection, which must come from the federal Office of Management and Budget, is expected in early 2014.
Source: Education Week
Right and Wrong in Washington
“You’re neither right nor wrong because people agree with you.
You’re right because your facts and your reasoning are right.”
I have been thinking about what Project RACE has done right and wrong over the past 24 years because I’ve been working on our archives, including watching old video tapes, going through faxes that have faded, and reading newspaper articles that have turned yellow with time. This has to be done so that we can contribute to an accurate, true history of the multiracial movement in America. The words of Warren Buffett, one of the world’s wealthiest people, keep coming back to me. We were right in 1990 when we formed Project RACE because our facts and reasoning were right and still are today.
This past week we all saw famous people talk about the March on Washington 50 years ago and many asked if things have changed. The answers are yes—and no. The answers are the same for the multiracial community. Let’s look at a few examples.
In 1990, an academic in multiracial studies told me I was crazy to think that we could ever change the way the US Census Bureau counted races. The few “crazies” who started Project RACE moved ahead anyway. We were right to think concerned people sometimes can change the way Washington does business and determines policies.
From 1990 on we managed to influence legislators to pass bills in six states for a multiracial category on school and other state forms. Our facts and reasoning were right. The state and local governments knew we were right in our mission statement to allow multiracial citizens the right to racially self-identify and to be able to count as their entire heritage.
When we first got to Washington in 1993, we took on all of the opposition from the NAACP, to the congressional black caucus, the Council of La Raza, and many, many others. They were afraid of losing their numbers to the multiracial community and we explained over and over that the only group that would lose numbers was the group of people who checked “other.” We also repeatedly made the point that no other group should be defining our group—a basic civil right. They argued and we kept quoting the facts and stating our reasoning. We finally won the right to have people check one or more boxes on the census and other government forms. We were also right in our advisement of groups not losing numbers. Not one group lost numbers when we were allowed to check more than one box.
We did not gain the right to have the word “multiracial” appear on forms, which is still vitally important for children. We said that without the appropriate wording or terminology, multiracial people would fall prey to inappropriate usage, which is exactly what happened when the government began to call us “MOOM” people, short for “Mark One or More.” I think one of the worst moments in our history was when I heard the President of our country refer to himself as a “mutt.” A man I had voted for.
Win or lose, we were also out and out lied to by the federal government. The most harmful lie was that they would clearly show the multiracial numbers in the tabulation of group numbers. They said, “Don’t worry.” But we did worry and with good reason. We were lied to by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Census Bureau, and other agencies and have to wade through “in combination” figures to try to sort out how many people are multiracial. Did they think we would not notice? We were right to worry and right not to trust them.
We very carefully explained to our opponents why the term “other” should not be used. Most of them agreed and changed “other” to “some other race” as if we wouldn’t know it was the same thing! Apparently, they were ready to see the light by the time they prepared for the 2010 census and intended to drop “some other race.” However—and this is the absolute truth—according to the Census Bureau, someone “forgot” to take it off the forms.
We were right on so many points that it amazes me even 20 years later. We were lied to so many times it saddens me. We were wrong on very little. Yes, there is right and wrong and Project RACE is proud to be a part of the right side of racial identity politics.
OMB decides how racial and ethnic categories will be defined in our country. -Susan
President Obama nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Walmart Foundation, as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Mathews was deputy OMB director under Clinton, when she “presided over three budget surpluses in a row”, Obama said.