What Box Do I Check?

The New York  Times has an intriguing article regarding the challenges faced by the 2010 Census in which citizens may not actually be able to “classify” themselves correctly on a census form. With the number of inter-racial and inter-ethnic marriages occuring in the United States, I can see how it would be challenging to classify oneself.  Here’s the money line from the article:

More than 1 in 50 Americans now identify themselves as “multiracial.” But the pattern of race reporting for foreign-born Americans, is markedly different than for native-born Americans. The foreign born are more likely to list their nation of origin when identifying race or ethnicity.  For example, while 87 percent of Americans born in Cuba and 53 percent born in Mexico identified themselves as white, a majority born in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, who are newer immigrants, described themselves as neither black nor white.

Just the other day, I met someone who is Hispanic in name and culture but is African American in appearance. I don’t think there’s a check box on the census form for him. I didn’t ask what he considered himself. Furthermore, you can just begin to imagine all different organizational dynamics that will come into play as more and more people fall under this ethnic, racial, and cultural trend. Really, really fascinating stuff.