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Racial issues have always elicited a lot of discussion within the federal government or the general public of the United States. As the population of the minorities continues to grow as indicated by census results, racial categorization of some of these groups have been a matter of concern. Defining the word “race” has not been that easy looking back at how things are changing. Historically, the most affected groups are the “Hispanics” or “Latinos”. Among other important documents that provide more information on these groups are: Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin by the U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Brief, and Ruben G. Rumbaut’s Pigments of Our Imagination: On the Racialization and Racial Identity of “Hispanics” and “Latino’s”, the work edited by Jose A. Cobas, Jorge Duany, and Joe R. Feagin to be the title: How the United States Racializes Latinos: White Hegemony & Its Consequences.

The 2000 U.S. Census Bureau Brief clearly indicates the criteria that were used in categorizing the race and Hispanic origin during the census. Every census has different methods by which information is collected and processed. This is due to the technological changes that emerged with each passing decade. This brief also shows that questions change due to other factors like changes in lifestyle. According to the Census Bureau, the terms “Race” and “Hispanic origin” are considered as two distinct concepts by the Federal Government. Other than someone identifying with a given race, he or she, under “Hispanic origin”, should identify if “Latino”, “Hispanic” or “Spanish” (U.S. Census Bureau Brief, 2000).  

Ruben G. Rumbaut, however, totally refutes the idea of racial categorization. He believes that this is just “a pigment of our imagination” (Rumbaut, 2011). This is a concept that is colonial in nature and has been carried forth to the present generation. He believes that the reality behind races was the different social classes that existed within the early American society. The slaves and other emigrants were of lower social status and therefore were racially different from the Native Americans. According to him, the racial classifications have never been biological in nature but are a result of the sociological injustices.

It is also notable that the Federal Government considers the “Hispanic” and “Latino” as from any race. In the census data, they are not categorized as a distinct race. The Census Bureau questionnaire does not ask whether one is either “Hispanic” or “Latino”. This, however, comes as a different and distinct question afterwards. It also gives the idea that this group can be of any race but are ethnically Hispanic or Latino. As per the 2000 census, the main racial categories were: “White”, “Black or African American”, “American Indian or Alaska Native”, “Asian”, “Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders”, and “Some other race” (U.S. Census Bureau Brief, 2000). However, others may also be of mixed races and the data is available for the 2000 census.

This method of categorization is however contested in How the United States Racializes Latinos: White Hegemony & Its Consequences. This work gives Ruben’s argument that the failure to categorize the “Hispanics” or “Latinos” as a distinct race is a result of historical injustices that those from these ethnic groups have undergone. As much as there is a bigger population of this group with roots within the United States, they have always been considered as not white. The Federal Government does not consider them as a race. The census results showed that the numbers of those of the Hispanic origin have surpassed the total population of the Blacks or the African Americans. This trend of growth in population is expected to continue (Cobas, et al. 2009). Therefore, according to Ruben’s argument, the United States Census Bureau is not justified in not simply creating a Hispanic race for easy identification. Ethnical categorization of this group is not justifiable.


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