Why is it imperative to begin dissection of the blanket ethnic categories of Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans? Are these differentiations an important consideration in issues of employment and governance?
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census was defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Asian, Hispanic, and African American are defined as follows:
Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including for examples, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Hispanic: A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups in Africa.
In 2012, the Census Bureau reports that for the first time in American history more than half of American children under the age of 1 are members of a minority group (Slate.com). In other words, minorities are quickly becoming the majority. As a result, it is imperative to begin re-evaluating and dissecting the blanket of ethnic categories currently in place, especially the broad groups of Asian Americans, Hispanics, and African-Americans.
The Office of Management and Budget says that the concept of race is for the United State Census is based upon social and cultural characteristics as well as ancestry. If that is the case, then the broad racial groups listed above need to be dissection immediately. The differences of social and cultural norms within the individual subcategories listed under the Asian-American group are quite obvious to any reasonable person. The traditions, cultures, and social norms of an individual with an Indian background are not the same as an individual with a Japanese background—and yet these two ethnicities are lumped together in one broad, ambiguous category.
Dissection of these blanket ethic categories is critical for governance and employment. OMB states that many federal programs are put into effect based on race data obtained from the United States Census and is critical in policy decisions. Furthermore, race and ethnicity are used by the government to enforce and monitor equal employment.
I believe US Representative Thomas C. Sawyer (D) of Ohio described the importance of accurate group identity when he said:
The dilemma we face is trying to assure the fundamental guarantees of equality of opportunity while at the same time recognizing that the populations themselves are changing as we seek to categorize them….to be effective the concepts of individual and group identity need to reflect not only who we have been, but who we are becoming.