I’m always being asked why I study identity politics issues such as race, ethnicity, sex, and age. The implication is that those aren’t respectable topics for serious thinking.
Yet the Census form that recently arrived in your mailbox shows that the U.S. government is obsessed with those precise questions.
The Constitution defines the decennial Census as an "enumeration"—i.e., a count of everybody. Therefore, the questionnaire is kept relatively short. (The Census Bureau asks more detailed questions on a vast variety of subjects on its monthly American Community Survey sample of 250,000.)
What questions are considered so critical to the government in 2010 that the Census has to ask them of every single resident?
Of the ten questions on the 2010 form, five are concerned with enumeration (for example, asking your name and phone number) and one with whether you own your home (with or without a mortgage). The other four deal with identity:
6. What is Person 1's sex?
7. What is Person 1's age and Date of Birth?
8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?
9. What is Person 1's race?
In contrast, there are—of course—no questions asked about whether the resident is a citizen or is even in the country legally.
Personally, I believe that paying careful attention to what the state is doing is public-spirited. But it’s more fashionable to be naïve and ignorant about race. For example, liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias recently proclaimed: "My guess is that in the future the vast majority of people descended from immigrants from Asia or Latin America will be seen as white."
Yet, why in the world would they want to be white when they win money and prizes from the government for being legally nonwhite? You get more of what you pay for. And the U.S. pays people to consider themselves non-white. Thus, since the 1960s, all the movement has been away from being seen as white.
Read the whole thing.