I love taking and making surveys. My inner geek seems to want to collect information about everything and crunch the results. The 2010 census is coming up and I caught a sneak peek at what the survey is researching. There are a couple of things that bug me about the census. I’m going to go over only a couple of them today. I wonder about the race question and how to answer that or how my friends answer it. Here’s the race question in the 2010 census:
I think about this because I know a couple of people who have a bunch of races mixed in their families. Nowadays, you’re not just White or only Chinese. My kids aren’t only Filipino. Back in the 1990 census, the instructions were to “Fill one circle for the race that person considers himself/herself to be.”
I’m not sure why that was the case. One thing that you have to remember when making a survey is what is it that you want to see accomplished. In this case, I’m not sure what the government was thinking when they asked to mark one. The 2000 census did a little better when they asked, “Mark one or more races to indicate what this person considers himself/herself to be.” After thinking about this for a while, I think the mark one response was because of the lack of database management where databases could on mark one attribute for a person’s race. Thank goodness for robust database systems out there.
What race are you?
- I am Chamorru (38%, 3 Votes)
- I am Guamanian - Filipino descent (25%, 2 Votes)
- I am Chamorro (25%, 2 Votes)
- I am Guamanian - Other (12%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 8
Now comes the question of Guamanian or Chamorro. Back in 1990, the only answer was Guamanian. The census people probably woke up when a bunch of Chamorro filled in the blank for “Other Pacific Islander.” I’ll never forget my high school US History teacher when she said that the term Guamanian was reserved for non-indigenous people on Guam who lived there before 1898. More so the non-indigenous people who lived on Guam around World War II (when the US started to care about the territory). In 1950, the people on Guam were granted citizenship. What is Guamanian? Guamanian is a geographical categorization used to describe people who live or have lived on Guam. This is to be distinguished from people who are ethnically rooted in the indigenous population of Guam: Chamorro.
Guamanian is just like saying American. This all started when the government wanted to do a census and also had to do a better job of managing immigrants coming into the US. Remember that everyone born on Guam is a US citizen. At this time there were many people from other races on Guam who were already considered locals because they spoke the language and were part of the society. The locals needed a way to reap the benefits of funding/support that the government gives to the people of Guam—they called themselves Guamanians.
It bugs me that my square peg does not fit into the round hole. While you fill in your census out next year just remember the point of this exercise is to gather information about a certain data set and to follow the trend of people—a generalization.
Just incase you need it, here are the Guam census numbers from 2000: Guam 2000 Census Results