As I’ve often pointed out, the U.S. government uses broad definitions of white and/or Caucasian because in the early postwar era it was cool to be white and whites weren’t all that persnickety. Hence, North Africans and West Asians all the way past Calcutta were officially white/Caucasian, as were almost all Latin Americans who didn’t volunteer themselves as black.
But after the introduction of affirmative action in 1969, White Privilege rapidly diminished. In the 1970 Census, the often puzzling official federal system was introduced in which Latin Americans could identify as both white racially (Latin America being a White Supremacist culture) and Hispanic by ethnicity and thus qualify for affirmative action privileges. By the 1980 Census, South Asians wanting SBA minority development low interest loans and government contractor minority preferences had bailed out of the cursed white category in favor of uniting with former “Orientals” in the new Asian category.
Ever since, activists representing Middle Easterners have been trying to get the hell out of the disprivileged white category. In January 2017, the lame duck Obama Administration announced a new Middle Eastern and North African category. But the Trump Administration couldn’t see why that was a good idea and canceled the change. Now the Biden Administration is back at it:
Updated January 26, 2023 5:38 PM ET
HANSI LO WANG
New proposals by the Biden administration would change how the U.S. census and federal surveys ask Latinos about their race and ethnicity and add a checkbox for “Middle Eastern or North African” to those forms.
The Biden administration is proposing major changes to forms for the 2030 census and federal government surveys that would transform how Latinos and people of Middle Eastern or North African descent are counted in statistics across the United States.
A new checkbox for “Middle Eastern or North African” and a “Hispanic or Latino” box that appears under a reformatted question asking for a person’s race or ethnicity are among the early recommendations announced in a Federal Register notice, which was made available Thursday for public inspection ahead of its official publication.
If approved, the changes would address longstanding difficulties many Latinos have had in answering a question about race that does not include a response option for Hispanic or Latino, which the federal government recognizes only as an ethnicity that can be of any race.
In 1970 it was still sort of cool to be white, especially if you weren’t a very hip Latino. By 2023, though, everybody, even Hispanics, has gotten the message that whites are the Official Scapegoats of modern American, so even Miami Cuban elites want out of the doomed white category.
The reforms would also mark a major achievement for advocates for Arab Americans and other MENA groups who have long campaigned for their own checkbox. While the U.S. government currently categorizes people with origins in Lebanon, Iran, Egypt and other countries in the MENA region as white, many people of MENA descent do not identify as white people. In addition to a new box on forms, the proposal would change the government’s definition of “White” to no longer include people with MENA origins.
Research by the Census Bureau suggests both the addition of a “Middle Eastern or North African” box and a combined question about race and ethnicity could decrease the number of people who identify as white for the national head count. …