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Re: The Census and the Social Construction of Race

    <p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/m50THuNRIFQ/">The Census and the Social Construction of Race. <cite>Contexts Blogs: All Blogs</cite> (2010-03-31)</a>:</p><blockquote><q>Social and biological scientists agree that race and ethicity are social constructions, not biological categories.  The U.S. government, nonetheless, has an official position on what categories are ??real.?  You can find them on the U.S. Census (source): Alvaro V. asked us to talk a little bit about the Census.  So,...</q></blockquote>

On the nationalization of culture, race and ethnicity. The closer: “The changing categories in the U.S. Census show us that racial and ethnic categories are political categories. They are chosen by government officials who are responding not to biological realities, but to immigration, war, prejudice, and social movements.” Which is exactly why any libertarianism worthy of the name ought to include a healthy skepticism towards conventional delusions about these politically-fabricated, border-bound, power-entangled categories.

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  1. Discussed at topsy.com

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  2. Joe

    1. Whether or not Arab American should be considered a unique race or an ethnicity is also being discussed. Currently, they are instructed to choose “white” “non-hispanic.”

    The other day on NPR they did an entire segment on this issue, focusing on people whose ethnic backgrounds were either mixed or not represented on the form, or otherwise ambiguous. One of the interviewees was an Iranian-American comedian (can’t remember his name) who described his reaction the above as: “You mean I had to put up with all those kids calling me camel jockey and towelhead when I was growing up, and all I had to do was say, ‘Dudes, I’m white!’?”

  3. Francois Tremblay

    The census is used to arrest people for having too many people living in one-family units. Don’t cooperate with the census.

  4. Louis B.

    Social and biological scientists agree that race and ethicity are social constructions, not biological categories.

    It’s comforting to know that a simple acknowledgement of the reality of race is all I have to do to step outside the bounds of political correctness.

  5. Rad Geek

    Louis B.,

    Nice to know that race realists are still using the term political correctness as if it meant anything in particular.

    To come back to the point of the article, does your simple acknowledgement tell you anything about why Chinese is a race according to the U.S. government, Hispanic is an origin which is independent of race, and Arab isn’t anything in particular? Or why Mexican was a race in 1930 but not in 1970, and why Octaroons was an important category of people to track in 1890 but not in 1990? (Is it because white people with black great-grandparents disappeared over the century? Did the biology of race-mixing change? Or did something else change?) Unless your reality of race has something to say about all this, it does seem likely to me that the racial and ethnic categories used in the Census — and used in the broader political and social conversations which the Census is a product of — that is to say, the social categories that people actually talk about when they start talking about race in everyday speech, and which actually substantially affect people’s social and personal lives — have relatively little to do with biological realities one way or the other, and indeed are chosen by government officials who are responding not to biological realities, but to immigration, war, prejudice, and social movements.

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