Friday, April 2, 2010


Having filled out my census form, I noticed there was a lot of emphasis on race, with numerous categories to fit all sorts of groups that don't want to be lumped together. This makes some sense, as Pacific Islanders probably don't want to be categorized with ethnic Chinese, as I imagine they once were. (The racial categories in the census forms in the 1800s were probably limited to "Damned Irish", "Chinaman" and "Glorious, glorious white people". We have come a long way since then.) I wonder how many decades it'll be before the racial categories are discarded, due to so many mixed race people having to check so many boxes that it becomes meaningless. After all, the Irish are now counted as "white". I'm not sure how they pulled off that coup!

More importantly, what questions should they have been asking that they did not? There were no questions about income or sex, probably because for both of these questions everyone would have responded "Yes, please!" There should have been a question about whether we still enjoy the TV show "Lost" or if we're just watching it for closure at this point. No question about whether we like living where we do, or whether we're in a short walking distance from the nearest bar. (Though I guess the local zoning authorities need that info more than the U.S. Census) There should be at least one trick question as to whether we have any fugitives from justice living in our household, because surely one of these days someone will slip up and give away the hiding place of an escaped convict.

I have heard that there is a group of people that wants to make "Confederate American" a special racial category on the Census, covering any American whose ancestry came from the eleven states that seceded from the U.S. from 1861-65. I think this would be neat because then we could require all the people who check that box to also take a loyalty oath, since I'm not sure everyone did so once they were admitted back into the Union. There should also be a special category for people who originated in New Jersey, just so we could see where all those people are moving to. It would answer a lot of questions.

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