Sunday, February 20, 2011

Race Remixed

I somehow missed this article when it came out two weeks ago, but two paragraphs into this New York Times piece on racial and ethnic data collection, I knew I wanted to highlight it in a short blog post. The article, "Race Remixed: Counting by Race Can Throw Off Some Numbers," is a good introduction to the complexities of modern efforts to accurately count an increasingly diverse and multiracial nation.

Unfortunately, the article doesn't mention Pacific Islander Americans, but it does introduce a number of important facts. They include:
  • The federal government actually has a standard for racial and ethnic data collection;
  • While race and ethnicity are concepts that are nearly-universally known, different group collect and report racial and ethnic data differently;
  • Older methods of racial data collection that don't account for people of more than one race are growing increasingly outdated.
If I had to pull from just one part of the article it would be this early paragraph, which explains that how people are categorized by race and ethnicity "...might seem trivial except that statistics on ethnicity and race are used for many important purposes. These include assessing disparities in health, education, employment and housing, enforcing civil rights protections, and deciding who might qualify for special consideration as members of underrepresented minority groups."

Unless minority groups -- including Pacific Islanders -- are properly counted, Americans will not know whether our nation is making progress against the types of disparities the article mentions. And while counting people properly will not solve these problems alone, good data is necessary for good decisions.

Of course, this comes back to Pacific Islanders and their access to underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships. As I'll explain in an upcoming post or two, the way Pacific Islanders have been categorized with Asian Americans has masked the true needs of Pacific Islanders, including their level of underrepresentation in higher education.

Here's a link to the article: LINK


1 comment:

mubashar said...

Thanks for this informative post.