Tabulations Issues

(July 7, 1998)  President Ramona Douglass on the tabulations issues discussion currently underway in the Census 2000 Committee:

In speaking with the leadership of AMEA and the leadership of the multiracial communities my organization represents- the original statement presented at the June 11-12 meeting represents the principle issues and concerns of our constituents:

  1. accuracy of data collected;
  2. preservation of civil rights protections;
  3. generation of a viable method for tracking people who claim more than one racial/ethnic heritage.

We recognize the need for both flexibility (based on data use) and regional variability (based on demographic "mix" or concentration) in adopting a method or combination of methods for racial/ethnic tabulation.

However, there are some approaches which are not acceptable, and by their very nature negate the spirit and letter of the recent OMB decision to allow all Americans the ability to designate the racial/ethnic categories with which they wish to be identified.

We do not believe that the "combining-priority reassignment" is anything more than a dressed up "one drop rule or historical series approach" that we have fought so hard to eradicate, and is therefore unacceptable.

We equally believe that the "algorithmic reassignment" or "fractionalization" approach is both too complicated and brings with it too much social and political baggage to be acceptable.

In reading all of the recommendations made by the combined working groups at the June 3 meeting, in conjunction with my Director of Law and Civil Rights--Carlos Fernandez, and my alternate on the 2000 Census Advisory Committee, Edwin Darden--we have come to the conclusion that the recommendations of the Census Advisory Committee of Professional Associations, best reflect what is important or acceptable to our community interests. Recommendation 3 from this Advisory Committee Report is the only recommendation which addresses the Hispanic origin question and comparability of racial data:

The issue of comparability of race data, both across time and data systems, cannot be addressed without consideration of the Hispanic origin category....etc

Since tabulation is very much a statistical issue--and the Professional Associations represent those data users that ongoingly deal with a variety of statistical methods, we trust that they can help design a combination of methodologies which will meet the broadest needs of all our diverse stakeholders.

Ramona E. Douglass
Association of MultiEthnic Americans