Report on the Census 2000 from a Multiracial Perspective

Subj: Our Still "Invisible Community" In the Listening of The Census Date: 5/5/99 10:13:45 AM Pacific Daylight Time From: AMEAPRES

Report On The Census 2000 Ad Campaign From a Multiracial Perspective

By Ramona E. Douglass President AMEA, Inc.

The Special Populations/Diversity America Ad Campaign for Census 2000 has all the promise of really taking on the importance of respecting and honoring the many rich heritages that represent the fabric of our American culture. On Monday, May 3, 1999, Young and Rubicon--the umbrella advertising firm that has been contracted to present Census 2000 to the American public, in a very professional, well-organized media campaign--gave select members of

  1. the Census Advisory Committees on Race and Ethnic Populations;
  2. the 2000 Census Advisory Committee; and
  3. the Professional Advisory Committees-- a very impressive preview of what's possible in seeking partnership through advertising with all the basic traditional/ racial/ethnic "minority" communities---African American/African and West Indian; Asian/Pacific Islander/Hawaiian; Native America/Alaskan Native; as well as Asian/East Indian and Arab, plus a small segment of the "white/ethnic" communities--Russian and Polish.

All those communities apparently were given special, in-depth consideration in putting together this campaign--which was evident in the partners chosen to generate the creative content of each segment. Kang & Lee presented the campaign for the Asian/Pacific Islander, Arabic, Russian and Polish ads. The Chisholm-Mingo Group gave a truly inspiring acknowledgement/appeal to the African-American and emerging African/West Indian communities. G &G artfully represented the Native American/Alaskan Native communities; as did the Bravo group in capturing the essence/needs of the Hispanic "multiethnic" communities.

There was also a "Diversity America" segment where I thought for sure the role of the Multiracial community would become evident--but surprise--it did not. I, as a representative of our six-million plus strong community had to sit through more than eight hours of diversity-honoring rhetoric that spoke to the heart of all we--- as an ethnically/racially diverse community--- have been standing for over the last three decades. We have ongoingly exemplified the essence of racial/ethnic partnership; respect; celebration of diversity; family and multiracial adult support networks; community advocacy and cross-cultural empowerment. Here are some of the Census Ad Campaign themes discussed for every community EXCEPT our community:

  1. "What's in it for me?"
  2. "Ethnic/Racial Sensitivity"
  3. "Empowerment"
  4. "Recognition/Respect"
  5. "Aspiration/Future Possibility/Strength"

and my favorite:

  1. "With a 180 million dollar plus budget, there is no reason for any community to get just the crumbs."

Question: "What's wrong with this picture?" Answer: "We are not in it!"

We were not consulted. We were not part of focus groups geared up for a multiracial/diversity campaign. We are a part of each of the communities addressed-- yet, in the eyes of the Census Bureau or its ad campaigns, we remain virtually invisible. The Census Bureau decision-makers either didn't take the time to do their homework on us, or didn't care to take us seriously as an ever growing, futuristic mirror of what America is becoming at the dawn of the 21st Century.

I am not pleased that the crumbs of this campaign are exactly what is being netted out to multiracial Americans and interracial families. We have been promised that in the casting of the actors for the various segments: Diversity America and "Out of Home"/Partnership projects--we will be "seen" as a part of the effort--but why didn't we have a greater say in the matter? --Why were we denied a voice--some advisory status in the process-- when, in October 1997, the OMB first gave its final "OK" on the "check one or more" box(es) format for the upcoming Census? The question of full participation in the advertising/ partnership projects has been on the table since that time--I should know, since it was AMEA that put it there.

I suggested on Monday, May 3, 1999 that the advertising groups, as well as the Census Bureau, take a look at the most recent acknowledgement of our impact on society's changing racial/ethnic image. Please check out San Jose Mercury News April 18, 1999/ 5-segmemt front-page spread: "Changing Face of the Future: Mixed-race births could make old divisions obsolete."

Go to: http://www.mercurycenter.com/local/majority/

At this late date, the series may actually be in the San Jose Mercury News archives--but I invite all the government/Census decision-makers to take this e-mail and the article listed above as a wake-up call and notice that the Multiracial community is committed to empowerment, respect, acknowledgement, authentic partnership, and full representation--- Our OWN, as well as those already very well represented at the May 3, 1999 preview. We are completely in the inquiry of:

"What Is In It For Me?"

We are also of the opinion: "With a 180 million dollar plus budget, there is no reason for any community to get just the crumbs."

I suggest that the leadership of all our community organizations make their commitmemts and dissatisfaction known to the U.S. Census Bureau immediately. We were there for all the other stakeholders when asked to support the current Administration on issues involving:

  1. the Census Budget;
  2. Sampling;
  3. the fate of the Census long-form;
  4. promoting Census 2000 as a civic commitment to a better America, etc.

It is time for the Census Bureau to enroll our community in its commitment to truly acknowledging multiracial Americans and interracial families as valued members of its team. It is time for the Census Bureau to put the "peddle to the metal"--- put its words into action--- and give us reason to believe that the "BE Counted" and "Diversity America" campaigns genuinely count for us!