Is the census racially biased and outdated? | The Tylt

Is the census racially biased and outdated?

The next U.S. census comes in 2020. The U.S. census is an important tool for gathering information on the details of American life. Census data alters federal funding for major projects, helps government agencies allocate resources, and is required to redistribute the number of representatives each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. But critics say it presents an outdated and homogenized view of the country, and is biased toward whiteness. What do you think?

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The census covers a wide range of ethnic, religious, and domestic data. The Obama administration proposed changes to the race and ethnicity categories, ceasing to include Middle Eastern and North African people under the “white” category, as well as adding clarifying wording about people of Latino/Hispanic origins. 

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget under the Trump administration has declined to make the changes, and so the distinctions are unlikely to be included in the 2020 census, though specific mention of same-sex marriages will be added. Does the census accurately represent the diversity of America?

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Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution contains the mandate for a census to be taken every 10 years. The purpose of the census, as dictated in the Constitution, is to determine the population for purposes of taxation and congressional representation. While the information gathered in the census has changed and expanded over time to include matters of race, religion, household makeup and other matters, the basic mandate remains. It is not the job of the census to be an all-embracing, sweeping statistical model delineating the diversity of America.

Space is provided to write in and specify sub-groups of ethnic origin if desired, for example, to say German under white or Haitian under black. But to claim the census has to be 100 percent inclusive misrepresents the intention of the census and ignores the wealth of other sources of data available. The older long-form census and more recent American Community Survey do a great job of gathering a variety of crucial information. It’s not going to show every detail of every American’s life, nor should it. As it is, these surveys already push upon the boundaries of personal privacy, and to go further would be invasive. 

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The Census Bureau collects a remarkable amount of data. Criticism against it is based in ignorance of what the census is intended to do. 

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The census is an ancient technique of data collection, showing relatively little improvement in collection methodology in its 6,000-year history until the last century. And of that century, the last few years have seen the greatest change in the complexity and precision in data sciences. Facebook knows you so well it can feel like mind-reading. That’s because they are all about the data. Why is Facebook more aware of demographics than the US Government?

The current census classifications show deep colonialist and white supremacist bias. To declare all of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa as white is absurd, and benefits only those who want to promote the view that America is a “white” country. 

Furthermore, the current configuration of the census scarcely accounts for multiethnic people or those from geographically blurred border regions. Do Russian immigrants claim European or Asian? Russia spans both. What of a Fijian immigrant of Indian ancestry? We do not fit into neat boxes. The current data collection technology can easily accommodate for the variations of ethnicity present in America, but to do so would undermine white privilege, so it doesn’t happen. 

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The Trump administration seeks to add a question regarding citizenship in the 2020 census, which critics claim is unconstitutional. 

FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Is the census racially biased and outdated?
A festive crown for the winner
#CensusIsFine
#CensusIsBiased