1. Even though Hispanics were considered white by the federal government, state and local governments often used "nationality" to differentiate Hispanics from European American whites. The implication is that states like Texas could prohibit Mexican Americans from serving on a jury and suing European American whites until 1954 based on their "nationality" and not their race (Sheridan, 2003).
2. Comparing the five racial groups officially defined by the U.S.
government in 1977 to the five genetic sub-groups akin to race identified by Risch
(2002) makes an interesting study
of contrasts. While there is congruity between the OMB and Risch regarding Black-African
and White-Caucasian, there is divergence in that Risch does not specify a "Hispanic"
category and divides Pacific Islanders, East Asians, and Native Americans into
This comparison demonstrates the disconnection between the social and scientific construction of race. The point is not that one is better than the other; rather, the similarities and differences speak to the multiple purposes for which quantitative data on population groupings based on race can help to solve problems. In the case of the OMB, it goes back to trying to solve a social problem, such as improving access to higher education for Chicano, Puerto Rican, and Native American students. For researchers like Risch, it goes back to trying to answer a scientific question about genetics, such as uncovering levels of disease risk by genetic sub-groupings.
3. Since the 1970s the Census Bureau has been involved in numerous lawsuits involving the alleged undercount of racial minority groups, members of which may be harder to find or may choose not to participate in the census. The controversial use of statistical sampling methods to make up for the undercount has also spawned lawsuits (Nguyen, 2007). In July 2009, newly appointed census director Robert Groves promised conservatives that he wouldn't use sampling methods to try to estimate minority groups that are traditionally undercounted (National Public Radio, July 14, 2009).