Census to Count Arabs as White, Despite Write-In Campaign
New America Media , News Report, Suzanne Manneh, Posted: Mar 25, 2010
The Census Bureau says it doesn’t matter if Arab Americans write their race in on their Census questionnaire.
Even if they check the “other” box and write in “Arab,” as many community groups advocate, the Census will still count them as racially white.
“Anyone from Europe, North Africa or the Middle East [will be classified] as white,” said Roberto Ramirez, chief of the ethnicity and ancestry branch at the Census Bureau.
Ramirez said that will be the case no matter how many people write in “Arab,” because the Census Bureau is required by law to use racial categories determined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and those categories do not include Arab.
Advocates for including Arab as a race say they will press on with their write-in campaign however. Census regulations provide that any organization can pay for its own special tabulation providing a formal count of write-ins.
“As with any write-in option, it is not comprehensive enough to be published as a ‘count,’ but it will provide us with important trends and estimates of the proportion of people of Arab ancestry who do not identify with the white race classification,” said Helen Samhan, the executive director of the Arab American Institute, which plans to order a special count.
“That is a start for working with the Census Bureau to research necessary changes in the way race and ethnicity are measured,” she added.
A spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget told New America Media that current racial standards for the census will be reevaluated after the 2010 census, in time for the next one in 2020.
-- Ray Hanania