As we have explored this year in this class, racial discrimination is a real problem. Arab individuals, though they have been classified as ‘white’ in the US Census, are a group who have experienced racial discrimination. Similar to the racism Japanese (and other Asian-Americans) experienced after Pearl Harbor, Arabs are in the awkward position of being dis-favorably compared to the Middle-Eastern attackers who committed 9/11. So, it makes sense to me that Arabs would not want to be included in the dominant white category: in their lived experience, they are treated as a harmful minority who should not live in the US. As a result, they would want protection from the harm others seek to do to them — which they would not be able to get when classed as the dominant white majority.  Too, now that discrimination against them is rising, a separate category for them on the US Census could be used to track some of that (especially in terms of income gaps).

Being properly counted as a disenfranchised group means a better estimation of aid needed for those groups. If, say, 100 people are counted as needing aid within a city, then that city would calculate out money needed for programs to assist around 100 people. If, however, the actual number was 500 people who needed aid, then there would not be enough to go around.  Too, any studies done using census data (especially those used in projections or for long-term projects or changes in legislation) would then have a much higher chance of falling short.

However, aid is not the only issue present. Census numbers get used in studies and politics, meaning that numbers that are underrepresented can be used against those groups (such as LGBT households) or to hide the fact that they are being discriminated against. The book mentioned that many times in the history of the census, numbers of certain groups have been used against them politically or for some discriminatory purpose — it’s the same for LGBT households. Too, by being shown on the census, other matters can be tracked such as the data showing “…that African American and Latino/a same-sex couples are raising twice as many children as white same-sex couples, with black couples earning on average $10,000 less than their heterosexual peer households.”

For undocumented workers, it’s necessary to know how many people are working in the US but aren’t part of the system in order to better understand the problem and how to fix it. The data itself isn’t used as a means to deport people, but it could be used to devise programs to help these individuals become a productive part of the country (paying taxes, or paying into health care) so that they get paid what they should and so that the money circles back into the nation.  Too, when considering Federal aid programs, it’s necessary for these individuals to be counted for the same reasons listed above — aid only gets determined based upon counted numbers.


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