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At United States Census Bureau - About Race the language appears

What is Race?

The data on race were derived from answers to the question on race that was asked of individuals in the United States. The Census Bureau collects racial data in accordance with guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and these data are based on self-identification.

The racial categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include racial and national origin or sociocultural groups. People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as “American Indian” and “White.” People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race.

OMB requires five minimum categories: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

Reasons for Collecting Information on Race

Information on race is required for many Federal programs and is critical in making policy decisions, particularly for civil rights. States use these data to meet legislative redistricting principles. Race data also are used to promote equal employment opportunities and to assess racial disparities in health and environmental risks.

Race and Ethnicity Research

The Census Bureau has a long history of conducting research to improve questions and data on race and ethnicity. Since the 1970s, the Census Bureau has conducted content tests to research and improve the design and function of different questions, including questions on race and ethnicity.

For the latest information on Race and Ethnicity Research visit:

Research to Improve Data on Race and Ethnicity Learn more about Census Bureau's ongoing history of conducting research to improve questions and data on race and ethnicity.

Since the term race is supposedly based on "social definition of race recognized in this country and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically" and "race" is not defined within the Census Bureau documents we can utilize the American Anthropological Association Statement on Race for guidance as to exactly what the construct of "race" is

How people have been accepted and treated within the context of a given society or culture has a direct impact on how they perform in that society. The "racial" worldview was invented to assign some groups to perpetual low status, while others were permitted access to privilege, power, and wealth. The tragedy in the United States has been that the policies and practices stemming from this worldview succeeded all too well in constructing unequal populations among Europeans, Native Americans, and peoples of African descent. Given what we know about the capacity of normal humans to achieve and function within any culture, we conclude that present-day inequalities between so-called "racial" groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances.

However, this does not answer the question as to precisely what "race" is in law. Nor is "race" defined in Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, although the subject matter is purportedly "Race".

Is the term "race" defined in any Public Law enacted by the Congress of the United States?

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It is unlikely, but I don't know if this lacuna can be absolutely proven. In the current US Code, "race" is not defined (links to downloadable files here), and since terms in definitions are surrounded by quotes, you can search for "race" (and will get nothing). This does not preclude the possibility that some public law once defined "race" but was amended out of existence. I don't know of a source that compiles all US public laws. You can get at Statutes at Large, but it is agonizingly slow to find anything.

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