Last Updated 18 Jan 2017

Race, Ethnicity, & Prejudice

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Race, Ethnicity, and Prejudice-Online Project At one point in time the U. S. Census defined someone as a "negro" if they were one-sixteenth black. That is, if one of your sixteen great-great grandparents was of African descent (and the other fifteen were of "white" European descent), you were defined as "negro". In Jamaica, people believed to be of "pure" African descent are described as black. People who are bi-racial are usually described as "colored". In Brazil, there are even more differentiations of those believed to be of African descent.

The point of all this is that our definitions are culture-bound and socially constructed. They are, therefore, not particularly scientific and change over time. This does not mean that race and ethnicity have no real meaning. They have meaning because we give them meaning. 1. What method do census enumerators use to classify people according to race? A census enumerator is a person who collects census data. Before 1960, census enumerators were themselves responsible for classifying people according to race. However, in 1960 there was a switch to self-reporting.

From this point on, individuals were in control of classifying themselves. It was no longer the census enumerators who classified individuals, but individuals who classified themselves. Census enumerators would just compile the results. 2. Which categories of ethnicity are used by the census bureau? The categories of ethnicity and race used by the census bureau have undergone numerous changes over the years. At first, from 1790 to 1880, the census recorded only “color. ” During this time period it was a person’s skin color that was of importance and there were three categories: White, Black, and Mulatto.

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The categories expanded in 1890 and consisted of five gradations: Black, Mulatto, Quadroon, Octoroon, and White. It was in 1900 that the word “race” actually appeared in the census. The question now asked for each person’s “color or race. ” At this time the census used only two categories: White and Black. It wasn’t until 1950 that the word “color” was completely dropped and the census only asked for the person’s race. In 1960 people were able to classify themselves. Shortly following the census added the category “other. In 1977 there were four racial categories established: American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, and White. Plus there was the “Other” category. Also, the census added two ethnicity categories: Hipic origin and Not of Hipic origin. 3. How have categories changed for the 2000 Census? Since 1977, the racial and ethnic makeup of the country changed significantly. There were no questions as to whether the previous standards still reflected the diversity that was present in the United States. So, with that, the categories for the 2000 census were revised.

The categories now consisted of: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African American; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and White. The category of “Some Other Race” is also included. In regards to ethnicity, there are two categories: Hipic or Latino, and Not Hipic or Latino. Aside from changes in the categories, another significant change for the 2000 census is that respondents are allowed to check off multiple “race” boxes. 4. What problems do you see with the Census definitions? The diversity in our society is increasing.

Putting people in categories is becoming more problematic because the categories are arbitrary; none of the groups have clear or unambiguous boundaries. Classifying people into a certain category is restrictive and doesn’t take into account that “people classified as “Asian and Pacific Islander” represent scores of different national and linguistic backgrounds, and “American Indian or Alaska Native” includes people from hundreds of different tribal groups” (Healey 13). The census definitions are very limiting and they don’t do diversity justice. Also, there is still no place for a number of groups among the categories listed. For example, where should we place Arab Americans and recent immigrants from Africa? ” (Healey 13). I understand that it is unrealistic to have a category for every single group, but we should realize that the definitions used by the census, the classification schemes, have limited utility and application. In addition, there is a growing number of mixed-race individuals for whom there are no categories. Although currently that number is relatively small, it is projected to increase rapidly due to a growing number of marriages across group lines.

How should those individuals be classified? Sources: Healey, Joseph F. (2010). Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class: The Sociology of Group Conflict and Change. (5th Ed. ). Pine Forge Press, an Imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc. Sweet, Frank W. (2011, Feb. 25). A Brief History of Census “Race”. Retrieved from http://knol. google. com/k/a-brief-history-of-census-race U. S. Census Bureau, Population Division. Racial and Ethnic Classifications Used in Census 2000 and Beyond. Retrieved from http://www. census. gov/population/www/socdemo/race/racefactcb. html

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