Especially notable is that before 1960, Americans didn’t even have the option of picking their own race; it was the census taker’s job to do it for them. Which means that in 1890, for example, census takers were tasked with figuring out whether multiracial families counted as “mulatto,” “quadroon,” or “octoroon.”
It’s another illustration of how our understanding of what race is, and who belongs to which race, keeps shifting over time — even though people of every era are convinced that the racial divisions of their era are just scientific fact.
Amerindian + African = Black
Amerindian + European = Black
Amerindian + Asian = Black
Amerindian without Indigenous ID = Black
Amerindian + African + European = Black
Asian + African = Black
European + African = Black
European + Asian + African = Black
If you ever think you’ve had a really terrible idea, just remember that the Australian Bureau of Statistics thought it would be a good idea to have THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF AUSTRALIA complete an ONLINE survey on ONE NIGHT.
Currently, the closest thing the U.S. has to official statistics on the transgender community is a report from May titled “Likely Transgender Individuals in U.S. Federal Administrative Records and the 2010 Census.” Accurate data and representation is an important start to erasing the stigma and actually saving lives.
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