Anthropologists and sociologists may not be able to agree on the exact number of ethnicities, but the lowest figure seems to be around 2,000. Any number below that has less to do with demographic accuracy than with politics. For example, at one point OMB considered whether "Cape Verdeans" should be included as a separate category on the census. A quick tabulation of the number of Cape Verdeans in the country shows that approximately two thirds of the states have fewer than 100 and several have none. Further, it turns out that Cape Verdeans are themselves an amalgam of races and ethnicities: Approximately 78 percent are Creole ; 21 percent are African; and 1 percent are from various European subgroups. The agency decided against inclusion.This racial hair splitting is the mirror image of those classifications like octoroon that we were supposed to have discarded with the Civil Rights Act. I suggest we all choose not to answer the racial/ethnic questions on the next Census. It's time to put an end to the madness.
Apr 12, 2006
I really hate this
Peter Kirsanow says the Census Bureau is working towards "improving" racial ethnic classifications for the 2010 Census: They've managed to come up with 126 categories. As Kirsanow says, Why stop there?