Negro Please! The Census & 3 things to care about
1) The counting of prisoners – Currently prisoners are counted as residents of the counties in which they are imprisoned rather than their home communities. This serves to increase political representation in areas that tend to be rural and White, while decreasing the political representation of the home communities that folks come from.
2) Who is White? The extended racial definitions provided by OMB 15 say that, ” A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.” Notice something about that? I was certainly surprised that folks from North Africa and the Middle East remain classified as White, despite the socially distinct lives that many lead.
3) Undercounts. The issue of Negro was raised in response to the potential of people being offended and “opting out” of the Census. If seeing Negro makes you not fill out the Census form, I’m going to wager you weren’t going to fill it out in the first place. Many communities remain undercounted: the poor, the young, immigrant to name a few, this all matters for political resources. If you’re worried about undercounts, think also about the homeless. Their undercounting means fewer resources for those feeling the hardest brunts of the “land of opportunity.”
I am all for rallying around a cause. I’m just not sure I can meet ya’ll down at the Census offices for a protest over Negro. Focus groups, lettering writing campaigns, and write ins suggest some of our older brothers and sisters still support the term. Let’s focus energy in creating greater political clout, not appropriate nomenclature.