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Change in Ethnicity By: Ward Connerly
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Click HERE for a full-sized copy of the form.

If “one picture is worth a thousand words,” one could multiply this “Ethnicity Change” form used by the University of California (UC) by ten and still not have its true value in describing the idiocy of counting individuals by race and ethnicity. 

I doubt that many of us want government bureaucrats (or anyone else for that matter) imputing our ethnic background based on physical inspection.  Thus “self-identification” is the only logical policy choice if the government wants to be in the business of collecting data about race and ethnicity, which it should not.

One must wonder, however, how valid data can be when individuals are allowed to change their ethnicity as they would a suit of clothes.  Yet, that is precisely what the UC race data policy amounts to.  Essentially, it is “garbage in, garbage out.”  No one should rely on this data for public policy purposes or for any other use.

The “Ethnicity Change” form reveals a few other facts about race and ethnicity at UC.  First, although several “Asian” category options are offered, they are all lumped together for statistical and other purposes.  I guess the university believes they are look like and share the same culture?  Second, if other ethnic groups are specifically enumerated, why are those of Irish, Italian, German and other European descent lumped into “Caucasian?”  Third, is there a more dehumanized way of categorizing those who have multiple ethnic backgrounds than “other?”  If there is, I don’t know what it could be.  Fourth, a substantial number of Americans, particularly those of African ancestry, have American Indian ancestry as well.  I am among them.  Why should one be required to provide “proof of tribal affiliation” to self-identify as “American Indian,” but not be required to provide proof (assuming there is such a thing) of African or Mexican or any other ethnic background? 

Fifth, while the U.S. Census allows multiple categories to be identified, UC seems to embrace the racist “one-drop” rule, as does the Census, without even allowing the option of multiple boxes to be checked.  This all or nothing approach is outdated in a state such as California, which probably accounts for the fact that an increasing number of students check the “decline to state” option.

Finally, if “Mexican/Mexican American” is treated as a separate category on the “Ethnicity Change” form, why are those who so identify lumped together with “Latinos” by UC in discussing access and related admissions issues of the university?  Could it be that political considerations are motivating the university to create as large a number as possible of “underrepresented minorities?”

How many times can I vote for the Racial Privacy Initiative?

Ward Connerly is a former Regent of the University of California, Chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, and 2005 recipient of the prestigious Bradley Prize for his defense of the American ideals of freedom and equality.

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