Multiracial Americans advocates for these policies. Return frequently for updates.


We strongly urge to review these comments then visit the OMB website here to make your OWN comments in support of the proposals we present below.  Comments must be received by April 12.  CLICK HERE 

Date: March 18, 2023

From: Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC) Board of Directors

To: Office of Management and Budget

Subject: Initial Proposals For Updating OMB’s Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards

Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC) has been in operation for over thirty years and performed a key role in crafting and supporting the revisions to Federal policy that allowed marking one or more race through our co-founding of Association of Multi-Ethnic Americans (AMEA).  The OMB and its interagency working group have requested comments on a series of topics and questions related to proposed revisions to Statistical Directive 15 (SPD 15) that sets Federal standards for the methods of collection of racial and ethnic data.  The following is MASC’s response to this request.  Note that MASC has no comment regarding some of the proposals so they are intentionally not addressed below and not left out by error.

Topic 1: Collect race and ethnicity information using one combined question.

The Working Group proposes that SPD 15 move from the two separate questions format to a single combined question as the required design for self-reported race and ethnicity information collections. Employing a new combined question design may take significant time and resources for some surveys and information collections to implement. Flexibilities should be allowed for agencies dependent on aggregate data, data that are not self-reported, or data from non-Federal providers.

Our response: Multiracial Americans supports this proposal as it will recognize mixed Latino and non-Latino identity and present a truer representation of the multiracial population.  The current data collection schemes insufficiently describe society by obscuring the diversity and interrelationship of all groups.  While we recognize the challenges this change presents to bridging past data, the value of this update is greater than the difficulties it may present.

Question 1a: Please provide links or references to relevant studies that examine or test any impacts of collecting race and ethnicity information using separate questions compared to a combined question.

Our response: While studies of single question formats are rare, studies by Emeka and Vallejo and by Duncan and Trejo using American Community Survey and Current Population Survey data show that questions that don’t allow multiple Latino responses with non-Latino lead to lower Latino representation.  Thus it may be inferred that a combined question, that enables mixed Latino/non-Latino identification will result in greater Latino representation and multiracial representation.

  • Amon Emeka, Jody Agius Vallejo. “Non-Hispanics with Latin American ancestry: Assimilation, race, and identity among Latin American descendants in the US.” Social Science Research (Elsevier), no. 40 (2011): 1547-1563.
  • Brian Duncan, Stephen J. Trejo. “Intermarriage and the Intergenerational Transmission of Ethnic Identity and Human Capital.” Journal of Labor Economics (The University of Chicago Press) 29, no. 2 (2011): 195-227.

Question 1b: To what extent would a combined race and ethnicity question that allows for the selection of one or more categories impact people’s ability to self-report all aspects of their identity?

Our response: A combined question would enable persons to identify as both Latino and non-Latino.  This will lead to more “accurate” data as the non-descript “Some Other Race” will decrease significantly and the size and diversity of the Latino population will become clearer.

Question 1c: If a combined race and ethnicity question is implemented, what suggestions do you have for addressing challenges for data collection, processing, analysis, and reporting of data?

Our response:

  1. Avoid systems that only allow single characters for coding race for data entry as these systems are inadequate for reporting disaggregated multiple racial identification.
  2. Agencies should be prepared as a minimum to report: single race responses, race in combination for each category, and total number of multiracial population.
  3. Space permitting, highest mixed race combinations should also be reported.
  4. State and local mandated minimums for data collection and reporting must also be considered and adapted to comport with Federal standards.
  5. Multiple “intra-racial” identification (ex. Mexican and Puerto Rican) should also be collected and reported.  Reassignment to a single sub-category should not be permitted.

Question 1d: What other challenges should we be aware of that respondents or agencies might face in converting their surveys and forms to a one question format from the current two-question format?

Our response:

  1. Agencies should be prepared to answer questions regarding why the change was made and how the data will be used.  FAQ responses should be developed in cooperation with community representatives and agency employees should be trained on providing the proper responses to questions.
  2. No favor should be made to selecting any group over another.  Terms such as “primary race” and “secondary race” used by Los Angeles Unified School District should be discontinued.

Topic 2: Add “Middle Eastern or North African” (MENA) as a new minimum category

The working Group proposes that “Middle Eastern or North African” be added to SPD 15 as a new minimum reporting category distinct from all other reporting categories. The definition of the current “White” reporting category would be edited to remove MENA from its definition.

Our response: Multiracial Americans supports efforts that recognize the diversity in society, enables the fullest expression of identity, and measures inequality and discrimination.  The MENA category meets these goals for an evolving diverse nation.

Topic 3: Require the collection of detailed race and ethnicity categories by default.

The Working Group proposes that SPD 15 require data collection on race and ethnicity at the detailed category levels, as specified by the example in Figure 2, unless an agency determines that the potential benefit of the detailed data would not justify the additional burden to the agency and the public or the additional risk to privacy or confidentiality. In those cases, agencies must at least use the SPD 15’s minimum categories, as specified by the example in Figure 3. In any circumstance, agencies are encouraged to collect and provide more granular data than the minimum categories.

Our response: Multiracial Americans supports detailed data collection to allow fullest expression of identity, greater compliance with the survey, and measurement of inequality and discrimination.  Some Other Race should be included with an option to write in a response to cover any missing categories.

Question 3a: Is the example design seen in Figure 2 inclusive such that all individuals are represented?

Our response: No, there is no Some Other Race category with a write-in response to enable “multiracial” as an identity. This may lead to a higher Item Non-Response Rate.

Question 3b: The example design seen in Figure 2 collects additional detail primarily by country of origin. What other potential types of detail would create useful data or help respondents to identify themselves?

Our response: Include “American” in more categories (ex. Latino American, Asian American) and not only African American. 

Question 3c: Some Federal information collections are able to use open-ended write-in fields to collect detailed racial and ethnic responses, while some collections must use a residual closed-ended category (e.g., “Another Asian Group”). What are the impacts of using a closed-ended category without collecting further detail through open-ended written responses?

Our response: This disables possible local identification that may be significant in certain contexts, for example, an ethnic enclave.

Question 3d: What should agencies consider when weighing the benefits and burdens of collecting or providing more granular data than the minimum categories?

Our response: Disaggregated and source detail should be made available to the public upon request.

Question 3e: Is it appropriate for agencies to collect detailed data even though those data may not be published or may require combining multiple years of data due to small sample sizes?

Our response: Yes, but data should be accessible.

Question 3f: What guidance should be included in SPD 15 or elsewhere to help agencies identify different collection and tabulation options for more disaggregated data than the minimum categories? Should the standards establish a preferred approach to collecting additional detail within the minimum categories, or encourage agencies to collect additional information while granting flexibility as to the kind of information and level of detail?

Our response: It is generally preferred that maximum freedom of choice be allowed with detailed categories provided to promote full personal expression and satisfaction with the survey.  This should lead to greater compliance with the survey and ability to aggregate data per different methodologies.

Question 3g: Is the current “default” structure of the recommendation appropriate? Should SPD-15 pursue a more voluntary approach to the collection of disaggregated data, as opposed to having a default of collecting such data unless certain conditions are met?

Our response: The default structure is preferred as it has been studied and commented on by the public.  Other systems may be allowed only after they have gone through similar reviews.  Data should be comparable between communities so if a deviation has occurred there should be a method to comport with the default.

Question 3h: What techniques are recommended for collecting or providing detailed race and ethnicity data for categories with smaller population sizes within the U.S.?

Our response: Greater cooperation with local/community authorities such as tribal leaders or community service organizations.

Topic 4: Update Terminology in SPD 15.

Our Response: Multiracial Americans prefers the term “multiracial” for describing people that marked multiple categories since race carries greater significance in our society.  “Mixed race” is an acceptable but secondary alternative term.  “How do you identify” is a preferred question since it avoids confusion between terms such as “race” and “ethnicity” that might cause non-cooperation with the survey.  We do not endorse “multiracial” as a category since this potentially aggregates data such that it cannot be disaggregated.

Question 4a Part 1: If a combined race and ethnicity question is implemented, what term should be used for respondents who select more than one category? For example, is the preferred term “multiracial,” “multiethnic,” or something else?

Our response:

  1. “Multiracial” is the preferred term for persons that mark more than one category since it reinforces the socially constructed nature of the term “race” and deconstructs the notion of a biological basis for “race.”
  2. “Mixed race” is an acceptable alternative.
  3. When describing a community with a diverse mix of racial groups, the term used should be “racially mixed” so as not to confuse with the term “multiracial” reserved for those that identify with multiple races.

Question 4a Part 2: Please refer to Section D, Previously Tested Definitions of Minimum Categories.

Are these draft definitions:

i. Comprehensive in coverage of all racial and ethnic identities within the U.S.?

ii. Using equivalent criteria?

iii. Reflective of meaningful distinctions?

iv. Easy to understand?

v. Respectful of how people refer to themselves?

Please suggest any alternative language that you feel would improve the definitions.

Our rersponse:

  1. No, there is no Some Other Race category with a write-in response to enable “multiracial” as an identity. This may lead to a higher Item Non-Response Rate.
  2. Include “American” in more categories (ex. Latino American, Asian American) and not only African American. 

Question 4b: As seen in Figure 2, based on the Working Group’s initial proposal, the question stem asks “What is your race or ethnicity?” Do you prefer a different question stem such as:

“What is your race and/or ethnicity?”, “What is your race/ethnicity?”, “How do you identify?”, etc.? If so, please explain.

Our response: “How do you identify?” is preferred since it avoids the confusion and aggravation caused by disagreement on terms such as “race” and “ethnicity.” 

Topic 5: Guidance is necessary to implement SPD 15 revisions on Federal information collections.

The Working Group proposes that SPD 15 and its related documents be placed online in a central location and include implementation guidance…

Our response: Multiracial Americans want the updated standards to be implemented as soon as possible but recognize time will be necessary to incorporate such sweeping changes.  No more than five years should be necessary if the effort is focused.  If multiple response data is collapsed to bridge with prior data then clear notation should be required making this explicit.

Question 5a: For data providers who collect race and ethnicity data that is then sent to a Federal agency, are there additional guidance needs that have not been addressed in the initial proposals?

Our response: All agencies should come into compliance within five years of implementation.

Question 5b: With the proposals to use a combined race and ethnicity question and to add MENA as a minimum category, what specific bridging concerns do Federal data users have? Please submit any research on bridging techniques that may be helpful to the Working Group. Bridging refers to making data collected using one set of categories (e.g., two questions without MENA), consistent with data collected using a different set of categories (e.g., one question with MENA).

Our response: Some communities will see steep declines or increases in population as groups that were confounded with each other segregate themselves from each other.

Question 5c: What guidance on bridging should be provided for agencies to implement potential revisions to SPD 15?

Our response: Multiple responses may be collapsed to a singular category but a footnote should be attached to the data alerting the user that multiple responses are confounded with the result.  For example, interpretation of results may be confusing with numbers exceeding the results that singular responses would produce.

Question 5d: How should race and ethnicity be collected when some method other than respondent self-identification is necessary (e.g., by proxy or observation)?

Our response: If data was collected by proxy for a small number of data records in a large survey (i.e., the Census) then no special comment is needed.  However, if data was collected by proxy in a significant number of data records (i.e., death certificates, police citations) then a footnote should be added to the data that it was collected by proxy and not by consulting the respondent.

Question 5e: What guidance should be provided for the collection and reporting of race and ethnicity data in situations where self-identification is unavailable?

Our response: Multiracial people may look like any race so effort shout be made to speak with family members, others in a household, or the community obtain a proper identification.

Topic 6: Comments On Any Additional Topics and Future Research.

Our response: Multiracial Americans offers that if the combined question format is not adopted, then the Latino identity question be revised to allow multiple responses with similar instruction (i.e. select all that apply) and discontinue the terminology “Yes” and “No” and  “Not Hispanic” for “non-Hispanic” or “non-Latino”.

Question 6b: The current minimum categories are termed:

• American Indian or Alaska Native

• Asian

• Black or African American

• Hispanic or Latino

• Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

• White

Do you have suggestions for different terms for any of these categories?

Our response: “American” should be added to other categories such as “Asian American” and “Latino American”

Question 6d: The proposals in this FRN represent the Working Group’s initial suggestions for revisions to SPD 15 to improve the accuracy and usefulness of Federal race and ethnicity data. The Working Group and OMB welcome comments and suggestions on any other ways that SPD 15 could be revised to produce more accurate and useful race and ethnicity data.

Our response: If a combined question is ultimately rejected, then the Hispanic/Latino identity question should allow multiple responses:

  1. No favor should be made to one category over another such as putting one category in bold face or other font.
  2. “Yes/no” should not be allowed as a response as this denies the opportunity to make multiple responses or is confusing in interpretation.
  3. Use the term “non-Hispanic/Latino” and do not use the phrase “Not Hispanic/Latino” as the latter sounds like an antonym that would be confusing for multiple category respondents.

Figure 1. 1997 SPD 15’s Two-Questions Format for Self-Response

Figure 2. Proposed Example for Self-Response Data Collections: Combined Question with Minimum

and Detailed Categories

Figure 3. Proposed Example for Self-Response Data Collections: Combined Question with Minimum



Date: November 21, 2022

From: Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC) Board of Directors

To: Office of Management and Budget

Subject: Proposed revisions and policy recommendations to OMB Statistical Directive 15

Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC) has been in operation for over thirty years and performed a key role in crafting and supporting the revisions to Federal policy that allowed marking one or more race through our co-founding of Association of Multi-Ethnic Americans (AMEA).  From this data we discovered in 2020 that the multiracial population constituted over 10% of the US population.  Estimates prior to this date from organizations such as the Pew Research Center and from US Census Bureau testing suggested the multiracial population was much higher than the 2010 accounting of 2.9% of the US population and they were right.  It is interesting to note that while some of the 276% population increase between 2010 and 2020 was due to organic growth (i.e., births and immigration), some is due to the change in methodology from the US Census Bureau.  This only reinforces the significance government policy plays in accurately counting the multiracial population.  The following recommendations represent MASC’s request for updates and related policy proposals for Office of Management and Budget Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 (Directive No. 15): Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity to achieve a better accounting of the multiracial community.

  1. Revise the ethnic identity question to allow mixed Latino and non-Latino responses and multiple Latino sub-group responses.

Currently there is no official government data on people of mixed Latino and non-Latino identity also known as Latinx of Mixed Ancestry (LOMA) due to the current standards either requiring marking only one category or answering “yes” or “no” to Latino identity.  Instead, the number of these persons must be inferred from other sources of data.  For example, it is known approximately a quarter of marriages among Latinos is to non-Latinos.[1]  If we assume a minimum of one child per marriage then we quickly get to at least a quarter of the Latino population being mixed with non-Latinos and this does not count children born outside of marriage.  In Census data from 2010 to 2020, the Some Other Race population that was counted in combination with another racial group went from 2.6M to almost 22M people.[2]  Since it is known that the Some Other Race population is primarily Latino (over 90%)[3], it may be inferred that this population is mixed Latino and non-Latino.  In 2020, about 60% of the multiracial population also claimed a Latino identity up from about 34% in 2010.[4]  There is a level of mixing among Latinos that is completely being missed.

Forcing the selection of only Latino or non-Latino identity rather than allowing multiple choice results in a decrease in the Latino population.  Current Population Survey (CPS) data has shown that identification as Mexican can drop rapidly based on generations after immigration and degrees of inter-mixing from parents.[5]  However, what the CPS data cannot show is if the reason for this drop is due to cultural attrition or simply the inability to select multiple categories.  It is unlikely that this change would result in a decrease in the Latino population since persons currently marking Latino would not likely stop in a combined question.  However, persons that are currently marking “no” on the singular question that forces marking only one category may be inclined to mark Latino in addition to their other identities when given the opportunity.  This would lead to an increase in the Latino population albeit in a multi-ethnic or multi-racial way.

  • We support combining the ethnic and race identity questions into a single question.

Making Latino a racial category will also achieve the goals of policy recommendation #1.  This would have the added benefit of reducing the Some Other Race population which is problematic since no one actually identifies as “other.”  The 2010 Alternative Questionnaire Experiment showed a drop from almost 6% of the population to less than 1% of the population when tested with multiple question versions.[6]  In 2020, almost 65% of the Two or More races population included Some Other Race.[7]  It would be good to know more precisely who these people are.

  • The time allotted for governmental agencies to comply with updated Statistical Directives should be limited to less than five years.

The OMB last revised statistical directives in 1997.  The Department of Education didn’t issue its updated standards requirements until 2007.  Ten years is far too long a time to allow for agencies to adopt standards, especially when the updates are essentially software related.  Budgets are not being asked to change.  There is no headcount increase or significant capital expenses.  Justice delayed is justice denied.

  • We support the creation of a Middle Eastern North African (MENA) category

While this issue is not of direct consequence to the multiracial community, we support efforts to disaggregate racial data and empower individuals to describe themselves more fully and accurately.  Such an act is the first step in measuring inequality and discrimination and is critical for the enforcement of civil rights legislation.

  • We support the combining of multiple race populations with singular race populations to support enforcement of civil rights legislation

Multiracial Americans are just as interested in civil rights and equity as all other people of color.  If combining the numbers of mixed-race people with singular race people supports the enforcement of civil rights legislation then this should continue.  This is not a denial or erasure of mixed-race identity since mixed-race people continue to be members of the communities from which their parents and ancestors were birthed.  This membership does not end with having a mixed identity and this may actually be dangerous for mixed-race people and society at large.[8]

[1] Lopez, Mark Hugo, Ana Gonzalez-Barrera and Gustavo López, December 20, 2017, “Hispanic Identity Fades Across Generations as Immigrant Connections Fall Away”, Pew Research Center

[2] U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Public Law Redistricting Data File (P.L. 94-171) Summary File; 2020 Census Public Law Redistricting Data File (P.L. 94-171) Summary File

[3] U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Public Law Redistricting Data File (P.L. 94-171) Summary File; 2020 Census Public Law Redistricting Data File (P.L. 94-171) Summary File

[4] Ibid.

[5] Brian Duncan, Stephen J. Trejo. “Intermarriage and the Intergenerational Transmission of Ethnic Identity and Human Capital.” Journal of Labor Economics (The University of Chicago Press) 29, no. 2 (2011): 195-227.

[6] Elizabeth Compton, Michael Bentley, Sharon Ennis, Sonya Ratogi. 2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment. U.S. Census Bureau, 2012.

[7] U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Public Law Redistricting Data File (P.L. 94-171) Summary File; 2020 Census Public Law Redistricting Data File (P.L. 94-171) Summary File

[8] https://multiracialamericans.org/programs/national-advocacy/Advocacy (multiracialamericans.org)


By Thomas Lopez, MASC Board Member

Part 1: Context is Everything

If you ask most multiracial people if they would like to have a multiracial option on a form (say for school enrollment, medical forms, or the Census) most multiracial people would probably say “yes.”  This seems reasonable because some people identify as multiracial, and they would like to have that recognized.  In fact, most people would like to see an option that closely matches their identity as much as possible.  Unfortunately, this is asking the wrong question.

There is only one valid reason for asking about race on a form and that is to measure inequality.  Most people of color, including multiracial people and some white allies, are interested in achieving racial equality.  And if you don’t count, then you can’t measure.  Including a multiracial category on forms complicates this process.  So, a better question that qualifies a multiracial option better is “would you like to have a multiracial option if it means that enforcing civil rights laws is more difficult?”  Suddenly a multiracial option does not seem so appealing anymore.

We will be sharing a series of posts to this newsletter that will explore the ways that a multiracial option can complicate measuring inequality.  Tune in each week for a new explanation of what is at stake.  But also be hopeful of the possibilities.

Part 2: Aggregation

Its an unfortunate fact that to understand the impact of a multiracial option you need to have an appreciation for statistics and that is simply not exciting for most people.  They see numbers and their eyes glaze over.  So hopefully this will demystify the numbers and show the power and relevancy of data.

A multiracial option “aggregates” a diversify population and obscures unique issues facing specific communities.  “Aggregation” means the combining of data into a larger group.  There are times and places where this is appropriate.  For example, if comparing the wealth of the United States to Mexico it may make sense to aggregate the wealth data of US residents and Mexican residents.  But if you wanted to compare the wealth between Californians and Mississipians then aggregate data about US residents would be useless.

In the chart below, prepared by the Pew Research Center, we see that different mixed race “sub-groups” have very different experiences with racism.  Black-American Indians appear to experience racism at a much higher rate.  If there was a multiracial category without marking individual races then all of these numbers would be averaged together.  The values would be:

Subject to slurs or jokes: 60%

Poor service in restaurants or businesses: 45%

Unfairly stopped by police: 25%

Note that the aggregate averages above are more than 10% different from some of the “dis-aggregated” results.  If you wanted to focus policy changes to help certain groups, you would potentially miss the target because the data is not sufficient.  And it is still possible to count the number of multiracial people by simply adding together all the people that selected multiple races.

Part 3: Gerrymandering: Are Mixed-race People Still black.

Gerrymandering is the practice of changing the boundaries of a voting district so that certain politicians have a better chance of winning than others.  In essence, politicians pick their voters rather than voters picking their leaders.  Using demographics of voters (and the help of software) politicians can create favorable voting districts through processes known as “packing” and “cracking.” 

“Cracking” is when a community of voters is divided so that the resulting separate districts lack enough members of that community to result in a representative that will promote their interests.  “Packing” on the other hand is when members of a community are combined into a single or fewer districts. While the community is more likely to elect a representative in their favor, the community becomes less likely to elect representatives in multiple districts that would result in less representation in a larger legislative body.

This practice was made illegal with the 1965 Voting Rights Act regarding racial groups.  But if we step back for a moment, we can ask ourselves “how do we even know that racial gerrymandering has even occurred?” The answer is that people have been counted by race in the Census and on voter registration forms.

A multiracial category effectively erases the presence of racial groups in certain areas because multiracial people can be of any number of races.  The number of black people, for example, may be reduced in number and with less representation in the community there is less validity to claiming a community has been gerrymandered.  But if multiracial people instead identify their multiple identities, then their numbers continue to contribute to multiple communities.  In a current case before the US Supreme Court that will be decided this term, lower courts sided against the state of Alabama that created such districts.  The state of Louisiana is facing a similar case.  Both states have made the argument to lower courts that mixed race people that marked black as their race in combination with other groups should NOT be counted as black.  This is a realization of the fears many had of a multiracial category.

Part 4: Racial Profiling

The State of California passed the Race and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) in 2015.  Data is collected from the largest police departments in the state and compiled into an annual report.  A chart from the 2022 report is shown below.  The fact that the RIPA stops do not match well with the residential population data shows that racial profiling is happening in California.  What is interesting about this data is that it includes a multiracial category.  (Note that the population data is based on the 2019 American Community Survey and that the 2020 Census had the multiracial population at 14.6% in California.)

Simply the presence of a multiracial category is interesting because it is so infrequent to see.  But there’s a greater story behind these numbers.  First it must be asked why the percentage of stops is so low compared to the multiracial population?  This data suggests multiracial people are stopped at 5 times less than their population.  If 2020 population data was used the difference would be three times greater.  Could it be that multiracial people are so significantly more virtuous than other populations that they don’t get stopped by the police?

As if.

By law, a cop is not allowed to ask someone their race during a stop and yet it is the cop that is completing the stop reports that make up the data in this report.  Thus, the data in this report is based on the cop’s best guess at the racial identity of the stopped person based on looks.  With that being said, it is amazing that any multiracial people are identified at all because there’s really no “look” that defines a multiracial person.  Cops must be misidentifying multiracial people as “mono-racial” in large numbers.  So much, in fact, that the multiracial category is rendered essentially meaningless and to some degree a distraction from what is really happening.

Part 5: Marrow Donor Matching and Medical Issues


Racial identity and healthcare inequality are murky topics because they sometimes suggest a link between biology and race, when in fact, there is no biological basis to race.  Race is a “social construct” which is a fancy way of saying it’s a “made-up idea.”  This does not negate the reality that there are social and economic factors that can lead to inequalities in healthcare that are associated with race.

In the case of marrow donation, matches between marrow recipients and potential donors are based on DNA markers.  The more markers in common the more likely the match will be successful.  But if you’re trying to find a random person in the general public that might be your match, how do you improve your odds of finding someone?  It turns out that people with similar racial identity are also more likely to have matching DNA.  Why?  The DNA that defines appearance may not be important for marrow matching.  But people that share ancestry and thus appearance are more likely to have matching marrow related DNA.  Kind of like being distant cousins.  Thus, race becomes an imperfect proxy for narrowing down a search for a likely match.

Multiracial people, due to their greater diversity, have more unique genomes that are less likely to find in the general public.  Once again, “multiracial” as a category lacks any specificity that would enable a targeted search.  The solution is to increase the numbers and diversity of participants in the national marrow donor registry.  Including specific racial identity shines light on the challenges multiracial people and other people of color have finding matches that could then motivate strangers to join the registry.  A broad multiracial category obscures that opportunity.

Part 6: Some History and the Future

After five posts discussing the problems created by a multiracial category on forms it should be clear why Federal standards are what they are today.  Even more dimensions may be explored such as incarceration rates, college enrollment, and employment equality with similar findings.

During the 1990’s several organizations including MASC worked in coalition under the umbrella of Association of Multi-Ethnic Americans (AMEA) to change Federal standards to recognize multiracial people.  In fact, a multiracial option was added to several state forms prior to any changes at the Federal level.  One proposal was to create a multiracial box on forms with the option to select individual categories beneath it.  This would lead to a much longer form with seeming redundancy as well as the possibility that someone would stop at marking multiracial and fail to complete the detailed responses.  This would result in the aggregation of racial data discussed in Part 1 of this series.  Ultimately it was decided that allowing multiple responses, rather than a multiracial option, met the interests of most parties to recognize multiracial identity in some way while still preserving the disaggregated racial data necessary to measure inequality.

The multiracial community celebrated this historic achievement in 1997 but the victory was incomplete.  One group was left out of this update: Latinos.  Latino identity is considered an ethnicity and not a race by the Federal government.  Latino identity is counted by a separate question altogether from racial identity per Federal guidelines.  Thus, when the racial identity question was updated to allow multiple responses, the ethnic identity question was left alone.  Today, you will find the question presented with two options “Latino/Hispanic” or “Non-Latino/Hispanic” or as a “yes/no” question to Latino identity.  You will find no official data on persons that identify with both Latino and non-Latino groups.

It is therefore more pressing to roll-out the expansion of multiple responses to include Latinx of Mixed Ancestry (LOMA) before we begin considering implementation of a multiracial category.  We also need to press that updated standards be implemented quickly rather than wait a decade or more for agencies to catch-up such has been the case with the US Education Department.