U.S. Census

March 17, 2000

You have probably been asked to fill out a questionnaire for the next U.S. Census. Most of the questions are fairly straightforward, until you get to the question about race. Amitai Etzioni says that poses a bit of a problem for his sons. He is Israeli-American and their late mother was Mexican-American. Do they mark it white, brown, or half-and-half?

Or consider the plight of Tiger Woods. He is part Thai, black, white, Chinese, and Native American. Do you check all the boxes? Some of the boxes? Check other? I think you can see the problem.

Given all the boxes available, it is amazing to me that 10 million Americans checked the "other" box during the 1990 census. You have to believe that many more will want to check that box this time. However, this time the census abolished the "other" category and allows Americans to check as many racial boxes as they wish.

In a society which is supposedly dedicated to inclusion, why are we so insistent on dividing by race? Shouldnít we welcome the blurring of racial lines in this country? Why do we have a census that forces people to chose a racial category?

Part of the answer has to do with minority leaders. One leader argues that the "other" category seems to undermine black solidarity. Other leaders worry that the category of "other"would decrease the number of blacks listed in official statistics and thus undermine the enforcement of anti-discrimination statutes.

Well, I doubt any of that will happen and I am concerned that we keep trying to count by race, even in the U.S. Census. As Tony Evans often says, "We may have come in different ships, but we are all in the same boat now." Letís see if we can start rowing in the same direction.

Iím Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and thatís my opinion.