Freedom To Choose!

Message From AMEA President:

Freedom To Choose!

By Ramona E. Douglass

(Oct.30, 1997)  Today, Americans can celebrate the freedom to choose how they will respond to questions on race and ethnic affiliations for the upcoming 2000 Census and other federal forms requiring racial/ethnic data. The Federal Interagency Committee's July 10, 1997 recommendations allowing Census respondents to "check one or more boxes" and the revision of OMB's Statistical Policy Directive 15 were made official and posted in a Federal Register Notice dated October 30, 1997, Volume 62, Number 210 (go to).

What is most significant in this decision is that the rigidity with which we as a nation have held racial boundaries ---has been broken! That is a powerful shift--- it is also one that will impact the communications between diverse racial/ethnic communities as well as within our own multiracial community for decades to come. We in the Multiracial Movement have a unique opportunity to build bridges, initiate partnerships,--- set an example for our society as a whole that standing for our own acknowledgment does not preclude our joining others to generate a world that works for everyone.

The steps necessary to have a successful 2000 Census and facilitate the transition from current standands on racial/ethnic classification to the new model are still ahead of us:

* AMEA has been in communication with the U.S. Bureau of the Census requesting educational material on the OMB's decision in a Q & A format be provided so it can be disseminated as soon as possible locally, regionally and nationally.

* AMEA is currently represented on the Federal Tabulation Working Group Committee charged with developing possible tabulation formats for reporting racial/ethnic data accurately and efficiently for the 2000 Census. The next Tabulation Working Group Committee meeting is scheduled November 5,.

* AMEA is part of a group of committed 2000 Census Stakeholders interested in empowering our government to deliver a viable '98 fiscal program/budget that will allow the Census Bureau to move forward on its Dress Rehearsal 3-city rollouts and other programs necessary for executing a successful decennial census. We in the multiracial community must recognize that the battle in Congress to support or fight "sampling" as a statistical method for the 2000 Census has a direct impact on our own future acknowledgment. Without sufficient funds to implement Census projects-- the "check one or more" format will become a moot issue.

* University-based conferences and grassroot community-based conferences must be generated wherever possible to encourage bridge-building and racial harmony now and through the 21st century. AMEA's southern California affiliate (Multiracial Americans of Southern CA.) has already generated such a mission out of it's 10th annual Kaleidoscope Conference which took place this past weekend at Cal State Northridge. Cross-cultural support for these events must be encouraged nation-wide.

* It is imperative that we inform local, regional, and national legislative representatives, educational/public school officials, and medical/healthcare professionals about the new OMB Directive 15.

We must recognize the need to become personally accountable for who we are in the matter of cross-cultural relations, and cause a shift in our conversations from "what's missing" in the new OMB Directive 15 to "what's possible."

We are living our future today---let's make it one that empowers us all!!!