Obama answers race question on Census wrong

This post was written by marc on April 4, 2010
Posted Under: Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

When I filled out my census form I decided that I wasn’t going to answer the questions on what my race is for two reasons. First, racial classifications is in itself a form of racism in that we are not racially equal until race is unimportant. But an even better reason is that the question is scientifically meaningless.

President Obama answer on the census form is one of the best examples of how scientifically meaningless the race question is. Obama answered that he was “African-American” even though he mother is white. So he didn’t follow the rules. But more importantly, from the perspective of biological anthropology, there isn’t any one gene, characteristic, or trait that distinguished race. In the human race there is extremely little genetic diversity and if you go back far enough, we all come from Africa.

What we call race is really a social construct that describes cultural and language differences and the way different groups interact with the world. And even from that perspective Obama is a mutt. I think if I had it to do over again I would have written in mutt, because that is what we all really are. I think we would get over the race issu faster if we all started considering all of us to be the same race.

Reader Comments

As a sociology guy and employee at a major population center, I understand that race is socially constructed. That’s absolutely true. But just because this is so does not mean that its impacts are not real and not severe. Race has been used as a way for white elites to control and enslave “inferior” groups for hundreds of years, as you well know. In addition, without the race question on the census we would not know about disparities between whites and minorities in educational achievement, incarceration rates, voter turnout, and many other important facts.

Simply ignoring the race question just because it’s socially constructed does a disservice to those who have lived with the violence and hatred directed at them due to their minority status. It’s true that we should strive for that question to lose its relevance, but given our history and the current state of race relations, this is not realistic at this point in time.

Written By blixx008 on April 5th, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

I agree with both Marc and Blixx008. We all came from Africa. I answered white on the census because that is the color of my skin. The skin color of the incarcerated are mostly black. What can we do to make that fact go away? A “black” president that had a white mother is a start. I would be interested to know when his children become adults and living on their own would answer the census question of race. A complicated complex and on going question and debate to be sure.

Written By upstatejoan on April 5th, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

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