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Census, Do I Look White? 

posted on: Aug 6, 2020

Census 'Do I look White'? 

By: Tasnim Elnasharty/Arab America Contributing Writer 

Race is a complex word that has a variety of definitions, and one of the definitions in the dictionary is a group of people that share a comparable way of life, culture, traditions, history, and so on. In fact, race itself is equivocal and can be interpreted from different perspectives.

The idea of race is to largely extent convoluted, yet it has created a significant impact in American culture, sparking major outcries for a long time. Therefore, race is an important topic to bring into our discussions today. Because race is part of our public conversation and integrated into so many aspects of our world, young people want to and should be part of that conversation, no matter their race. 


As part of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Population Estimates Program (PEP) helps track birth and death rates. The U.S. Census Bureau also collects race data in accordance with guidelines provided by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This data is based on self-identification. The racial classifications included in the census questionnaire reflect a social meaning of race perceived in the United States. It is not an attempt to define race regarding biologically, or generically, instead, it helps provide a deeper understanding of social perceptions in the United States.

Moreover, it is recognized that the categories of race incorporate national origin. People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial, for example, native American and White. People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race (ASC). 

Census and Ethnicities 

The Census Bureau announced it was adding a write-in area for the “White” categories on the 2020 census questionnaire so that participants can provide “origins.”

“Print, for example, German, Irish, English, Italian, Lebanese, Egyptian, etc.,” read the instructions on the form the bureau is using in a practice run of the 2020 census in Rhode Island’s Providence County beginning in March (Hansi Lo Wang).

These suggested among the largest U.S. population group coming from Europe, the Middle East and North African with “original peoples” arranged by the U.S. government as “White” according to federal standards for race and ethnicity data.  

‘Do I look White to you?’

On February 15, 2020, Rep. Rashida Tlaib blamed Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham for “eradicating” people of Middle Eastern drop during a House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee meeting. Rep. Tlaib was upset that the 2020 census does not include “Middle Eastern/North African” as a choice in the ethnicity. 

Tlaib asked Dillingham “Do I look white to you?” 

Dillingham began to explain there is an option on the census to make up for people who did not feel a class precisely depicts their backgrounds. 

Tliab explained that writing identity on the census does not have the same impact as circling it. 

“Sir, it does not have the same impact, and you know that,” Tlaib said. “You know that. That’s why the community pushed to add the category ‘MENA,’ and they did it right. They went through the process and got it approved. And this administration decided to ignore them and make them invisible again.” 

What She Said

She is saying that she is not white. She stated.“We need to get it right because I am not white. I’m not. And I don’t try saying to others that you should be this or that. But when I sit on this form and I look at it, I don’t see myself represented in this form. And I think that’s a huge issue for people like me.” 

As we can see, the mainstream understanding of being blended races frequently alludes to people who are white and black Caribbean or white and black African. However, the voices of the blended race diaspora stretch out beyond far.

Being a blended race isn’t as black or white as it appears. People who are blended race come in all shades, shapes, and sizes. We don’t modify a stereotypical form, and as we have, such a diverse choice of selection, no one can tell how somebody is going to turn out, and which parent they’re going to look like more. Because somebody doesn’t look like this race or that race, doesn’t mean they’re definitely not. 




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