Tuesday, March 09, 2010

One Guy's Two Cents On the Census

I've always been mildly suspicious of forms that ask my race. I mean, why is that the business of someone who's never seen me and is thus unable draw his own conclusions? Why is it the business of anyone? Are they going to use that information to discriminate against me or against people who check a different box than I do? I don't like either of those possibilities.

Having it be the United States government doing the asking doesn't make me less suspicious. Mark Krikorian has a suggestion for what to do with this year's census questioning of our race:

"...we should answer Question 9 by checking the last option — "Some other race"
— and writing in "American." It's a truthful answer but at the same time is a
way for ordinary citizens to express their rejection of unconstitutional racial
classification schemes."

I'm not a legal scholar, so I can't say with certainty if this questioning is technically constitutional or not. But I am a nativeborn US citizen and one who has always been happy and proud to be so. And I question why a theoretically colorblind entity like our federal government needs to know my race. Or your race. Or that of any citizen. I'll be happy to check "Some other race" and write in "American".

There's some other census weirdness (for instance, why is question 8 separate from question 9?), but I will give the census creators props for one thing: they ask for our sex, not our "gender". Sex is a more fundamental distinction than race and I have no problem with forms asking for my sex, but being a human being rather than a word, I do not have a gender.

No comments: