The federal Department of Education would categorize Michelle
López-Mullins – a university student who is of Peruvian,
Chinese, Irish, Shawnee and Cherokee descent – as “Hispanic.”
But the National Center for Health Statistics, the government
agency that tracks data on births and deaths, would pronounce
her “Asian.” And what does Ms. López-Mullins’s birth certificate
from the State of Maryland read? It doesn’t mention her race.
Ms. López-Mullins, 20, usually marks “other” on surveys these
days, but when she filled out a census form last year, she chose
Asian, Hispanic, Native American and white.
The chameleon-like quality of Ms. López-Mullins’s racial and
ethnic identification might seem trivial except that statistics on
ethnicity and race are used for many critical purposes. These
include assessing disparities in health, education, employment
and housing, enforcing civil rights protections and deciding
who might qualify for special consideration as members of
underrepresented minority groups.
But when it comes to keeping racial statistics, the nation is in
transition, moving, often without uniformity, from the old
“mark one box” limit to allowing citizens to check as many
boxes as their backgrounds demand. Changes in how
Americans are counted by race and ethnicity are meant to
improve the precision with which the nation’s growing
diversity is gauged: the number of mixed-race Americans, for
example, is rising rapidly, largely because of increases in
immigration and intermarriage in the past two decades. (One in
seven new marriages is now interracial or interethnic.)
In the process, however, a measurement problem has
emerged. Despite the federal government’s setting standards
more than a decade ago, data on race and ethnicity are being
collected and aggregated in an assortment of ways. The lack of
uniformity is making comparison and analysis extremely
difficult across fields and across time.
As a blogger this story is humorous at best. Why are we supposed to figure out her races? White is white and black is black. If your last name is LOPEZ as in GEORGE LOPEZ…then you are LATINO. Give me a break. Seems to me like someone wants to fit in with everyone…except for black.
When is it ever ok to be associated with black? I do get the moral of the story…but come on…who really cares lady that you are confused?