Ross: Census expands ethnicity classifications to 217 unique identities

Mar 14, 2023, 8:05 AM | Updated: 5:39 pm
Census 2020 employees helps New Yorker fill census form at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem during Census Drive. Census Drive was coordinated with voter registration organized by Young Black Women protest group Freedom March NYC. The 2020 Census counts every person living in the United States and five U.S. territories. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
(Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Next year, just in time for the election, the federal government – by popular demand – will be rolling out a new list of possible ethnic and racial census classifications.

The idea is to provide the kind of nuance that can’t be captured in general categories such as “White,” “Black,” “Hispanic,” and “Asian.”

More from Dave Ross: DeSantis is wrong, diversity isn’t the reason the banks failed

These new categories will be used for the census and, ultimately, any research about discrimination.

But get ready – because there are going to be a lot of racial and ethnic categories.

And as far as I can tell, this will all be self-reported – which means it would be wise to start finding out who you really are.

So here are the categories proposed so far, as issued by the Office of Management and Budget a few weeks ago:

“White” people could identify as German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, or French. People from the Middle East or North Africa would no longer be considered “White” as they are now– they would choose between Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, or Israeli.

The “Hispanic” category would be divided into Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadorian, Dominican, and Colombian.

“Black or African American” would be divided into African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, and Somalian, and so on for the remaining categories of “Asian,” “American Indian,” “Middle Eastern,” and “Pacific Islander.”

In all, there are seven main categories, each with six subcategories, which means that depending on whether you check some or all of the boxes under your category, you can choose from 217 unique identities, not counting the write-in options!

And there may be more coming – including further dividing the Black category into Freedmen or Descendants of Slavery – which would be necessary in the event of a reparations program.

In my own case, I would check off Italian and German because both sets of grandparents were immigrants – although I don’t expect to see any benefits coming from that. Unless Congress passes a compensation program for descendants of the losers of World War II.

So, I have no idea how useful these categories will be, but I hope it helps.

If nothing else, maybe this will finally make the issue of identity confusing enough that we’ll just have to throw in the towel and be nice to everyone.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

KIRO Newsradio Opinion

Light rail transit fare...
Dave Ross

Ross: You have to pay your transit fare now; imagine that

Starting this week, new signs are going up at all the light rail stations.  They are bright yellow signs that say “Pay To Enter.”
9 hours ago
light rail, Sound Transit...
Dave Ross

Ross: Ex-football players would convince people to pay for transit

Yesterday, the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of Zachary Meredith, who in 2018 boarded a Community Transit bus without paying his fare.
3 days ago
vaccine mandate policing...
Dave Ross

Ross: Community policing program should include public tackle training

There would be five or ten of our burliest male and female citizens trained to swarm the assailant and, in 30 seconds, have him zip-tied
4 days ago
airline fees...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Gee & Ursula: What about those airline fees?

What about those airline fees? More are coming. KIRO Newsradio's Gee & Ursula have different takes on the subject.
5 days ago
John Curley and Shari Elliker

John and Shari: Are clowns scary?

Join John Curley and Shari Eliker in discussing whether or not clowns are scary. John is prepared to tricycle furiously to the defense of the clown community.
5 days ago
Dave Ross

Ross: The myth of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps

A lot of us take that to the extreme by assuming everyone has those magical bootstraps that, if only you pull on them hard enough, will fix everything
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Ross: Census expands ethnicity classifications to 217 unique identities