Discovery Guides Areas


Multiracial Identity and the U.S. Census
(Released January 2010)

  by Tyrone Nagai  


Key Citations




Resources News Articles
Historical Newspapers

News Articles

  1. The American Community Survey

    Mather, Mark; Rivers, Kerri L; Jacobsen, Linda A; Population Bulletin; 09-01-2005

    The U.S. government has a long history of gathering information about the American people. Congress has authorized funds to conduct a national census of the U.S. population every 10 years since 1790, as required by the U.S. Constitution. When the first American leaders chose to allocate congressional seats to states according to population size, a decennial census was mandated to obtain a complete and official enumeration of the population. The first census recorded a minimum of information: the gender, race, and age group of household members. Census questionnaires have changed every decade since then, reflecting the current interests and needs for information about the U.S. population and housing units. Some censuses collected detailed demographic, social, and economic information for all Americans, including parents' birthplaces, dates of immigration and naturalization, literacy, and the value of any assets. More recent censuses consist of a "short form" delivered to all U.S. housing units and a "long form," delivered to a sample of housing units. The short form includes questions about age, gender, race, Hispanic origin, household relationship, and owner/renter status; the long form seeks detailed socioeconomic information about U.S. population and housing.

    The 21st century marks a new era in census taking and a break with tradition. The American Community Survey (ACS), a relatively new survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, is ushering in the most substantial change in the decennial census in more than 60 years.1 The ACS is a nationwide monthly survey designed to provide communities with reliable and timely demographic, housing, social, and economic data every year. The ACS will replace the 2010 Census long form by collecting detailed information throughout the decade. While the primary aim of the census is coverageobtaining a complete population enumeration-the ACS program is focused on content-obtaining accurate information about population and housing characteristics. The ACS data will provide, for the first time, a continual stream of updated information for states and local areas, and may revolutionize the way federal, state, local, and tribal governments plan, administer, and evaluate their programs.

    The American Community Survey will replace the long form questionnaire sent to a sample of U.S. households in every decennial census since 7960. The ACS will provide more frequent updates of U.S. population and housing characteristics. . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary

  2. Understanding and Using the New Census Data

    Broch, Elana; Information Outlook; 04-01-2009


    Since its inception in 1790, the U.S. census has been a decennial count of people in the United States on Census Day. In the intervening years, the universe of people included in the count has changed, as has the mechanism by which this occurs (but that's a story for another time).

    When you hear the term "census data," it can refer to any of the many products produced by the Census Bureau. These products include the following:

    Short form. This count of the U.S. population is used for, among other things, the apportionment of congressional seats and counts of sex, race and Hispanic origin. Issues of undercounting undocumented workers and homeless people aside, there is believed to be little error in the counts that are produced. . . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary

  3. Counting on diversity: A population shifting in age and ethnicity presents new opportunities for operators

    Prewitt, Milford; Nation's Restaurant News; 10-01-2001

    Fleeing the canyons where once the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood, Hasidic Jews, women, blacks, whites, Sikhs, teenagers, Asians, Hispanics, the handicapped, the elderly and others found safety in Brooklyn by walking virtually shoulder to shoulder across the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Were it not for the smoke on the horizon, the dust on the clothing and the thousands of stricken faces, the photographs of those people would have been a near-perfect portrayal of America's diversity at the start of the 21st century.

    Though not identified by name in the pictures, the evacuees represented not only race, gender, religion and ethnicity but also varying income levels, lifestyles, ages and nationalities. Their image may perfectly illustrate the sweeping population changes found in the U.S. Census 2000 report, which may well serve as a prelude to the future of the foodservice industry.

    In addition to representing certain population segments, the census portrays groups that include customers, franchisees, waiters, cashiers, line cooks, district managers, chief executive officers and competitors. . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary

  4. Tiger blackened by his all-white trophy cupboard

    INDIA KNIGHT; Sunday Times of London; 12-13-2009

    At some point you notice that all the women Tiger Woods has slept with since marrying his Swedish wife in 2004 have been white. And why shouldn't they be? If Woods fancies white women more than not- white women -- well, that's his thing, in the way that Rod Stewart's is leggy blondes. And all my boyfriends have been Chinese -- 20 boyfriends, two husbands. No, not really (only one). But what did you think when you read that sentence? Because if I read it, I'd think, "Chinese boyfriends are nice, but seriously? That's more like a symptom than a sexual preference."

    Woods does not consider himself African-American but "Cablinasian", a mixture of Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian; he is none the less viewed by most people as "black". Whether black people "should" or "shouldn't" sleep with white people is a hot potato -- I don't mean just because of gun-toting, redneck loonies in the southern United States, but rather because of the views of intelligent, educated black people who have read their Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X. Put reductively, the idea is that if you're going to celebrate your heritage and be proud of who you are -- slave ancestry, misery, centuries of oppression and all -- then you might want to get together with someone like you. Some might -- and do -- argue that it is a question of duty. . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary

Historical Newspapers
  1. A NEW RACE TYPE.; Melting Pot of Pacific Is Blending Oriental With Occidental.

    Los Angeles Times. Dec 25, 1921. pg. III37

    Abstract (Summary) Given peace on the Pacific and with no labor controversy in Hawaii to arouse nationalistic spirit among the Japanese, the next generations will see rapid educational and social development in multiracial Hawaii. It is too early to delineate the principal type which will emerge from this particular "melting pot."

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

  2. U. S. Report Shows Race Gains in Many Directions

    The Chicago Defender. Mar 14, 1931. pg. 7

    Abstract (Summary) WASHINGTON, March 13. -- The Race population of Cincinnati, according to the recent U. S. census report, is 47,818 or an increase of 59 percent over the number 30,079 as reported in 1930.

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

  3. Racial Equality Wins Wider Formal Acceptance; New Approach Proposed

    Lawrence Nakatsuka,o The Christian Science Monitor. Sep 4, 1954. pg. 18

    Abstract (Summary) "The idea of racial equality is winning formal acceptance over most of the world: almost everywhere, the idea of white racial superiority is in full retreat. But its legacy remains and still plays an important part in world affairs."

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

  4. Braving the Taboos; Interracial Marriages Are Gradually Increasing Despite the Complex Problems for Both Partners

    DAVID DUPREE, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Wall Street Journal. New York, N.Y.: Jul 14, 1972. pg. 30

    Abstract (Summary) SEATTLE When one of Louise Stone's friends dropped by her home here a few years ago, the conversation turned to blacks dating whites Mrs. Stone's friend was incensed, charging that "all white girls who go out with black men are trashy" and the black men who date white girls are "riffraff."

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

Taken from ProQuest's Historical Newspapers.


  1. Dixie West: Race, migration, and the color lines in Jim Crow Houston

    by Steptoe, Tyina Leaneice, Ph.D., The University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008 , 286 pages

    Abstract (Summary)
    "Dixie West" examines the era of legal segregation in Houston, Texas and argues that, in the first half of the twentieth century, rural-to-urban and transnational migrations destabilized racial authority and racial categories in U.S. cities. Between the years 1910 and 1950, Houston transformed from a black and white city into a multiethnic metropolis as the population increased from 79,000 to 600,000. The movement of people into and within Houston complicated white supremacy and the very meanings of race.

    Using manuscript collections, oral histories, and census data, "Dixie West" focuses on the experiences of people of color who built communities and competed for power in the city. African Americans, the largest non-Anglo group in Jim Crow-era Houston, fought legal segregation and racial violence from white police officers and Ku Klux Klansmen who tried to control black people and black spaces. People of Mexican descent, including Tejanos and Mexicanos, negotiated race relations in a city where segregation laws divided people along a black and white binary. Likewise, the law designated Creoles of Color from Louisiana as "negroes," but their attempts to carve out spaces for themselves show that their identity could not be circumscribed by their legal classification. The growth of the African American, Mexican American, and Creole populations altered politics, labor, and culture in the city.

    As Houston's population grew and diversified, distinct racial hierarchies developed in neighborhoods, political and social institutions, and places of work and play. This dissertation specifically examines three types of racialized spaces in the city: spaces of conflict where Houstonians competed for power and authority; spaces of autonomy erected by migrants in an effort to avoid the worst effects of discrimination; and spaces of cross-racial/cross-ethnic sharing where people of color cooperated with one another. Interactions that occurred between diverse Houstonians demonstrate that people living in the age of legal segregation negotiated several sets of color lines. Furthermore, the story of segregation in Houston demonstrates that "Jim Crow" itself was actually a multiethnic/multiracial affair.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

  2. Living life in black and white: Identity formation and negotiation among black-white biracial Americans

    by Khanna, Nikki Denise, Ph.D., Emory University, 2007 , 253 pages

    Abstract (Summary)
    In recent years, there has been growing academic interest in biracial and multiracial people in America. An expanding multiracial population coupled with questions regarding how to count these individuals in the U.S. Census has led to an explosion in scholarly research examining racial identity among individuals claiming more than one race. Much of this research, however, remains atheoretical, exploratory, and limited in its approach to measuring racial identity. In addition, no known research examines biracial identity in a Southern context. Through face-to-face interviews with forty black-white biracial adults living in the metro-Atlanta area, I examine racial identity; in particular, I investigate how racial identity is formed and negotiated in social interactions with others in their day-to-day lives. This work deviates from previous research, which often measures racial identity based on the racial labels individuals use to describe themselves (e.g. black, white, biracial). In contrast, I take a more nuanced, multidimensional approach to racial identity, focusing the bulk of this study not on the racial labels individuals use, but rather their internalized identities (i.e. the race with which they most strongly identify). While most of the individuals in this sample draw on multiracial labels to describe themselves to others (e.g. biracial, multiracial, mixed), the majority also more strongly identify as black rather than white. I investigate factors that work to shape black identities rather than white or biracial identities, and find that contrary to recent claims by some scholars, the one drop rule persists and continues to influence black-white identity even today. Physical appearance, although growing in importance, remains relatively less important than the one drop rule in shaping racial identity. By taking a qualitative approach to examining racial identity and grounding my research in diverse theoretical perspectives in sociology and psychology (e.g. symbolic interactionism, social comparison theory), I added to the literature by investigating, not only how biracial individuals racially identify, but also the underlying processes by which their identities are formed and negotiated with others.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

  3. Muddy waters: The fluidity and complexity of racial and ethnic identification in the United States

    by Perez, Anthony Daniel, Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2006 , 125 pages

    Abstract (Summary)
    This dissertation investigates the measurement of race and ethnicity among Hispanic youth and the children of interracial parents, two emergent yet poorly defined segments of the U.S. population. While federal standards privilege self-identification of race and ethnicity, there is little guarantee that individuals will identify in ways that are consistent with their ancestry, or that identity claims will not change across social contexts or race measures. Building upon recent sociological studies that demonstrate the need to re-examine these assumptions, I explore inconsistencies in the identification of Hispanic and multiracial children using data from the 2000 Census, the 2003-2006 Current Population Survey, and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which contain detailed measures of race and ethnicity from multiple perspectives and modes of administration.

    Results show the identification of Hispanic and multiracial children to be highly sensitive to social context, family background characteristics, and measurement type. I find, for example, that a fourth of youth who claim Hispanic ancestry in one context fail to confirm that identity in another, despite being asked nearly identical Hispanic origin questions. Evidence from the Current population Survey, moreover, suggests that policy assertions of self-identified race need to be qualified, as the vast majority of children with mixed ancestry do not self-report but are instead identified by one of their parents. Furthermore, results show that the identities reported for these children reflect the variability in parents' preferences for different categories as well as the frequency with which they identify the race of their children. Among households with one white and one American Indian parent, for example, the under-representation of Indian parents reduces the estimate of the size of the biracial population of white/Indian children by over 10%. I conclude by discussing the implications of this research for studies of inequality and policies on racial classification in the U.S.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

  4. Boxed in: The United States multiracial movement

    by Williams, Kim Michelle, Ph.D., Cornell University, 2001 , 246 pages

    Abstract (Summary)
    The multiracial movement, whose advocates are best known for their efforts to get a multiracial category added to the 2000 Census, is the focus of my dissertation. Pointing to the fact that in increasing numbers, millions of Americans are not identifying within the available boxes, the multiracialists have been quite successful, in a relatively short amount of time, in pressing their case. Since 1992, six states have passed legislation to add a multiracial category on state forms, and in 1997, the Office of Management and Budget made the unprecedented decision to allow respondents to "mark all that apply" on the 2000 Census.

    There is much at stake in racial definitions/categorizations in the United States, including the allocation of political power (i.e., redistricting) and the implementation of various state and federal programs aimed at minorities. Empirically, this dissertation seeks to explain the policy successes of the multiracial movement and to gauge its "political location." In other words, how has this movement positioned itself within the broader political arena? Are multiracial movement activists concerned to diminish racism? Theoretically, the dissertation advances the following: If the concept of social construction is at all robust, it is necessary to analyze the mechanisms through which constructs become consequential. Official racial categories have changed ten times in the past eleven U.S. censuses (including Census 2000). Considering the census as a form of social construction, I argue that censusing practices play a central, if frequently overlooked, role in the political construction of both race and citizenship. In other words, we can look at censusing decisions as an analytical tool to help us understand the processes by which race-ethnic identity is created or destroyed, strengthened or weakened.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database