The Melting Pot

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

One of the interesting phenomena in several of our big cities is the dynamic nature of the ethnic composition of neighborhoods. In Philadelphia and New York, I recently visited areas that were Italian last decade and are now Hispanic; Hispanic last decade, and Russian now.

We are both a diverse society and a changing one.

The Census Bureau has good data on languages used in neighborhoods in the year 2000, and we used that data to target special non-English assistance (through translated forms and assistance guides – 59 different languages). But a real challenge is getting the language assignment correct for neighborhoods undergoing change.

The most interesting examples are urban blocks in transition, where one house may be occupied by East European immigrants and the next by Hispanic immigrants.

It is truly amazing and never fails to remind me that we are a nation of immigrants.

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7 Responses to The Melting Pot

  1. Tania says:

    Why is the word “Negro” still used as an option to define a race of people? Historically, I know the word “Negro… See More” has been considered an acceptable term used to identify a black person; however, I think it’s very derogatory to continue to use this term in this day and age. It has an uncomfortable undertone that rings that some things have not changed.

  2. kev@censusstaff says:

    Census Bureau Statement on 2010 Census Race Question
    A test embedded in the 2010 Census will measure the effect of removing the term “Negro” on reports about a person’s racial identity. The results will be used to inform design changes for future surveys and the 2020 Census. In the 2000 Census, more than 50,000 persons chose to write down explicitly that they identified themselves as “Negro.”
    ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:
    The Census Bureau included the term “Negro” because testing prior to Census 2000 indicated that numbers of respondents self-identified with this term. Census 2000 data showed that 56,175 respondents wrote in the term “Negro” in response to the question on race, even though the term was included in the category label for a checkbox. This does not include the unknown numbers of respondents who may have checked the box “Black, African Am., or Negro” because of the presence of the “Negro” identifier.
    Research in the 2000s did not include studies of the effect of dropping “Negro” from the list “Black, African Am., or Negro” on responses. Such research is important to avoid unanticipated consequences of changing question wording on the outcome of a census. As stated above, this research will be conducted as part of the 2010 decennial census.

  3. I don’t understand why, if we are looking to fund non-English assistance, we don’t ask about languages spoken but instead ask about race, which has no direct correlation to language. Why is race, besides number of people and their ages, the only thing our government wants to know about us? Why not ask about health care coverage/use, education, employment? that What is the possible use for this divisive data which couldn’t be gathered in a more direct and accurate way with some other question? For the record, I’m into geneology and still feel this way. I’m marking “other” and writing in “human” for race. I hope others join me.

  4. Teresa says:

    Could anyone ranslate the following three phrases into Somali? Please let me know ASAP, we are trying to get this to the printer soon. Thanks
    United States Census 2010
    It’s in our hands
    Information on US Census 2010 on page 3.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I have recently mailed in my census form and the word “NEGRO” was listed. How can we move forward when this word is still being used. Although this word is still used in other languages, we would prefer to be called African American. This may be a reason as to why many African Americans do not return the form. There are no other derogatory words listed beside other nationalities. We have only moved so far. This shows just how much.

  6. jennifer says:

    I am sure that the people whom wrote in the word Negor where elderly and this is what they were called for so long that it is now embedded. If the census would like to reach a much younger generation, the word must be weighed in again and removed.

  7. Jennifer, Census Bureau Statement on 2010 Census Race Question A test embedded in the 2010 Census will measure the effect of removing the term “Negro” on reports about a person’s racial identity. The results will be used to inform design changes for future surveys and the 2020 Census. In the 2000 Census, more than 50,000 persons chose to write down explicitly that they identified themselves as “Negro.” ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: The Census Bureau included the term “Negro” because testing prior to Census 2000 indicated that numbers of respondents self-identified with this term. Census 2000 data showed that 56,175 respondents wrote in the term “Negro” in response to the question on race, even though the term was included in the category label for a checkbox. This does not include the unknown numbers of respondents who may have checked the box “Black, African Am., or Negro” because of the presence of the “Negro” identifier. Research in the 2000s did not include studies of the effect of dropping “Negro” from the list “Black, African Am., or Negro” on responses. Such research is important to avoid unanticipated consequences of changing question wording on the outcome of a census. As stated above, this research will be conducted as part of the 2010 decennial census.

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