Multiracial classification in the U.S. census: myth, reality, and future impact

Ann Morning, New York University

This article examines the expectations—both positive and negative—that characterized public discourse in the United States about the introduction of multiple-race reporting on the 2000 census. More importantly, I revisit these predictions in order to assess how accurate they have proved to be, aiming for a clear stock-taking of the impact of multiple-race reporting to date. Which expectations have been borne out, which have not, and what unforeseen developments are the most likely legacy of the new federal racial standards? I argue that the most widely-publicized hopes and fears about multiracial classification will ultimately prove minor, while the unanticipated consequences will be significant in two realms: (a) the public’s essentialist or biological interpretations of race, and (b) the racial classification of the Hispanic population.

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Presented in Session 160: Multiple identities and statistical measures