Community Post

Local Group Supports Lawsuit Alleging Census Bureau’s Race Question Fuels Racism

I Am Malan, a Central District-based organization working for race-related social change, is publicly supporting a recently filed lawsuit in federal court.

The lawsuit alleges that

…on both the 2000 and 2010 Census forms, the United States Census Bureau’s and the Office of Management and Budget’s “representation of race was false, misleading, deceptive, and, therefore, fraudulent,” and that its “negligence contributes to a historical and sustained pattern of personally-mediated, institutional, and internalized racism in this country…”

In the complaint, Jane Koe says,

…she believed “race was a concept grounded in scientific fact” based on the federal government’s historical propagation of the genetics-based race “fact.”

Through research conducted recently, Koe learned

…based on verbiage in a section entitled “Questions and Answers for Census 2000 Data on Race” on its 2000 Census site, the Census Bureau is aware that the concept of race is merely a social construct (a concept that is the artifact of a particular group rather than the product of science). 

Koe says that because of their significant influence over United States residents, and their role in creating racial classifications both historically and presently, [the U.S. Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget] had a duty to correct inaccurate information and misconceptions about race. “By failing to explicitly correct this erroneous belief, despite knowing that the general populace believes race to be based on scientific fact, the Defendants’ representation of race was false, misleading, deceptive and, therefore, fraudulent,” Koe says.

Koe is asking for a number of remedies, among them, that

…the court to order the defendants to notify all recipients of the 2010 Census form that “race in this country is defined by the Office of Management and Budget, reflects a social definition of race, and in no way conforms to any biological, anthropological or genetic criteria.”

I feel the suit is important because one of its ultimate aims it to finally take away one of the arguments those with racist attitudes use against “racial minorities”: that there is some underlying genetic inferiority. It also seeks to help erase internalized racism.

The link to the full press release is available on Yahoo! News.

A copy of the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington is available on the I am Malan website.

Should you wish to support the action, you may sign the online petition asking the Census Bureau to update the race section of its Census form.

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