Census Bureau: No Middle Eastern Or North African Check Box


Here in this country the twenty twenty census is rolling out nationwide this week now for decades the U. S. government has categorized people with roots in the Middle East or in North Africa as white despite an ongoing push from some advocates that is not changing for this year's census we're bringing you an updated report about the controversial decision first may two years ago here's NPR's Hansi lo one this scene kabbadi left Yemen as a young girl with her family seventeen years ago and after they settled in New York City she noticed that when you fill out an official form here in the U. S. they're always seem to be a question about race and ethnicity everywhere you can see when you go to a doctor will schools you always get this option and but he said she wasn't sure which check boxes for her honestly it was hard for me to pick I was like oh my god what should I push I put Asian or the other about he says because Yemen is on the continent of Asia she settled on Asian and when she can on form she writes in Arab but she says on the twenty twenty senses she would have like to mark a box for middle eastern or north African it should be there because they had many nationalities so why is not there is unbelievable in twenty eighteen the U. S. census bureau decided against adding a middle eastern or north African category now because officials said they need to do more research that disappointed Mohammed Barakat he works at the Arab American family support center based in Brooklyn every member is grappling with the race question as a first grader my parents came from Palestine I didn't really know English and so whenever there is paperwork I had to do it and on one of those forms I remember seeing white and then in parentheses anyone from the Middle East or North Africa which are the regions along with Europe that the U. S. government defines as white the better catch was perplexed he went to school in acid teacher if you could answer Asian is like well if you want to put a single had reading you should polite and so I went around asking other teachers and they all set your white your what I like but look at me that I can't says he doesn't look white and he's culturally not white but sometimes he marks white if he sees the Middle East and North Africa listed next to it or he looks for a box for others so we can write in Arab this makeshift way of answering surveys means that information about people with roots in the Middle East or North Africa is often hidden within data about other groups the fight right now is to say the category should be there because it will arrive at a better account Maya berry is the executive director of the Arab American institute which is trying to get a category added to the twenty thirty census form it's an issue that touches on a sensitive topic especially after president trump's travel bans against countries such as Iran Libya Syria and Yemen federal law prohibits the census bureau from releasing census responses identifying individuals for seventy two years but many in the middle eastern or north African communities in the U. S. worry about giving the federal government more personal information that's the burden that our communities had to they're trying to make a determination about do you advocate for the inclusion of a category or not Terry says getting a middle eastern or north African check box on the

Coming up next