Race, Ethnicity, and Prejudice-Online Project
At one point in time the U.S. Census defined someone as a "negro" if they were one-sixteenth black. That is, if one of your sixteen great-great grandparents was of African descent (and the other fifteen were of "white" European descent), you were defined as "negro". In Jamaica, people believed to be of "pure" African descent are described as black. People who are bi-racial are usually described as "colored". In Brazil, there are even more differentiations of those believed to be of African descent. The point of all this is that our definitions are culture-bound and socially constructed. They are, therefore, not particularly scientific and change over time. This does not mean that race and ethnicity have no real meaning. They have meaning because we give them meaning. 1. What method do census enumerators use to classify people according to race? A census enumerator is a person who collects census data. Before 1960, census enumerators were themselves responsible for classifying people according to race. However, in 1960 there was a switch to self-reporting. From this point on, individuals were in control of classifying themselves. It was no longer the census enumerators who classified individuals, but individuals who classified themselves. Census enumerators would just compile the results. 2. Which categories of ethnicity are used by the census bureau? The categories of ethnicity and race used by the census bureau have undergone numerous changes over the years. At first, from 1790 to 1880, the census recorded only “color.” During this time period it was a person’s skin color that was of importance and there were three categories: White, Black, and Mulatto. The categories expanded in 1890 and consisted of five gradations: Black, Mulatto, Quadroon, Octoroon, and White. It was in 1900 that the word “race” actually appeared in the census. The question now asked for each person’s “color or race.” At this time...
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