New Federal Race And Ethnicity Standards Lead To New Complaints

The federal government’s recent revisions to race and ethnicity categories aimed at dividing up the nation further have left some groups feeling misrepresented and overlooked.

Despite holding 94 listening sessions with advocacy organizations, academics and the general public, the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) changes have generated a “problematic” situation among Hmong, Armenian, Black Arab and Brazilian communities.

For the Hmong, who fought alongside U.S. forces during the Vietnam War’s “secret war,” being classified as East Asian rather than Southeast Asian is a painful reminder of their oppression in China. The categorization also obscures the socioeconomic disparities between Hmong and other Asian households, with Hmong per capita income standing at nearly half that of Asians overall.

Armenians, many of whom are descendants of those who fled the 1915 Ottoman Turk campaign now widely recognized as genocide, fear that the absence of a specific Armenian category could lead to undercounting and diminished political power. The community’s exclusion from the new Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) category, based on outdated research, poses an existential threat to Armenian identity in the U.S.

Black Arabs from countries like Somalia and Sudan also find themselves excluded from the MENA category, with the OMB’s decision relying on a 2015 field test that advocates argue used outdated research. This omission raises concerns about the accuracy of demographic data and its impact on health outreach and resource allocation.

Meanwhile, a coding error in a Census Bureau survey revealed that over two-thirds of Brazilians in the U.S. identify as Hispanic, yet they are not included in the official definition. This exclusion, along with that of Haitians, means large numbers of Afro-Latinos are left uncounted.

As the OMB works to split up every hair and fiber of our country into separate categories to classify people perhaps we can do something about inflation and avoiding World War 3 at some point.

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