Racial categories were invented soley for evil, and still exist for the same reason (to justifly otherwise arbitrary discrimination). Ostensibly, the U.S. is an anti-racism country. What good comes from governmental recognition of race then? The Census shook its own hand for now offerring an “other” category under “Race”, but why is it asking for race at all? Why do federal agencies compile data based on race? Probably the only way to destroy racism is to destroy race; what good reason has the government in perpetuating the concept? Should we vote to have the government ban all mentions of race in official documents?
For some documents, I completely agree. I usually never give any personal information about myself, not even religion (as was the case for the PSAT). What about scientific studies, social studies, harassment suits, etc? The compilation of race can be helpful in some cases.
Without compilation of race, we wouldn’t know that African-American women are more prone to heart disease than woman of other races.
Racial categories were first invented by whoever first saw a group of people who looked a bit different from the people he was used to seeing all the time. It’s unclear that it was invented solely for evil purposes, although it certainly has been used for many evil purposes over the years.
CA tried to do exactly what you are suggesting (vote out the use of race by the gov’t), in a ballot initiative last year. I even started a GD thread on the subject, although I don’t remember the title. There were exceptions for medical information where racial categories do have some use. The initiative was defeated by a wide margin.
I would certainly agree that most instances of government classifying people by race should be eliminated. It’s none of the government’s business what race a person is.
I’ll see if I can dig up that old thread of mine. You might find it interesting.
Race is not racism, so I’d imagine the recognition of race is for purely statistical purposes, as is the recognition of gender or height or age.
That is, in theory. It may have less innocent reasons behind it.
Here’s the thread I was talking about:
Well, your primary example was the Census (which I presume extends to the other stastics bureaus within the Federal government)… the Census’s duty is specifically to determine statistics and demographics… if they don’t ask things like race, they are not able to determine the ages, income, population density, immigration rates, birth rates, housing units, people per housing unit, income disparity, educational disparity, education levels, family structure, and all the other fun stuff that lets the government decide policy and law.
Is it racist? That depends on your definition. The definition of “racist” as it is used most commonly is discrimination against or belief in superiority based on race. By this account, no, not at all.
Knowing that the population levels of some towns in Oklahoma have had 400% growth in Hispanic populations can lead the government to make important decisions in education, and the information allows the government, companies, and politicians to analyze who the people are and how best to serve them. Seeing how ethnic populations move around the country - either migration from slum neighborhoods or urban sprawl - shows how economic reforms are doing.
I don’t see how 99% of the use of these statistics falls under the definition of “racism,” and I think that taking this away would leave the government much more blind and inefficient in their dealings with the people.
When this type of thing is applied to things like college application forms, of course, we get into more murky water. Whether Affirmative Action is racist or not is really up to the community - but you have to keep in mind that just asking the race is not being racist. Making judgements off of that is.
For instance, Berkeley asks the races of the students, but does not use Affirmative Action at this time. However, they knew that my Freshman class was 44% Asian and 32% white, which is something that is VERY important that school officials (and state officials who fund them, and the government who runs the high schools) knows, for a variety of reasons. Just because they HAVE the information does not make it racist, any more than owning a gun means you are a murderer.
So IMO, getting rid of t his data, from a purely statistical viewpoint, is shockingly absurd. However, the use of this data must be carefully policed.
Racism exists. Racial disparities exist. These things will not go away by doing away with labels. They certainly will not be solved that way.
However, I think some documents can be too “race-conscious”. Back in middle school I remember that your race was identified on class schedules, right next to your name. It seemed kinda funny (and still does). I was “accidently” placed into remedial tracks on two occassions (and removed from those classes by parental involvement). It makes me wonder if the “B” next to my name had anything to do with those “accidents”, seeing as how most of the kids in the remedial classes were black but the school was predominately white Perhaps the registrar was using something else besides grades as a criterion. I dunno.
But what if racial information was chucked out of students’ records and someone wanted to find out if blacks were being unfairly shunted into remedial classrooms? The research wouldn’t be impossible to do, but it would be much more difficult. Perhaps race information should be kept on the “down low” but kept nonetheless. For instance, I don’t see why my class schedule had to be emblazened with a giant “B”.
Some people would say your religious affiliation is a much more important thing about you than your race. But what do you think would happen if the Census Bureau asked respondents to identify their religion?
All the important information you mention – ages, income, population density, etc. – could be acquired by more direct means (and in some cases is, I would expect).
That depends on whether people were suffering economic harm, based on their religion. Some people are clearly discrimunated against, based on ethnic background. (Fortunately, that number is slowly getting smaller.)
In fact, there was a point where large numbers of people were discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. (Fortunately, we were harder to identify on sight, we bred ourselves into the largest single religious minority (actually a majority in the nation’s economic strongholds), then grabbed the WWII GI Bill to leverage oursevles up to a status where the discriminatory practices were simply too difficult to maintain. I wonder if Muslims are about to go through the same sort of discrimination.)
I guess the implication here is that it would be offensive to ask questions about Americans’ religous preferences?
I don’t see the big deal at all. Let 'em ask away.