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Measuring Racial Discrimination
other free persons (who were black)—by direct enumeration or enumerator observation of race. Indians (not taxed) were excluded from the census counts. As time progressed, the labels changed; skin color was frequently introduced to identify racial differences; and in some censuses, more detail about the amount of nonwhite blood was listed—for example, whether Indians were full-blooded and whether blacks were mulatto, quadroon, or octoroon.
After the Civil War, when slavery was outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment, Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment provided for a count of the “whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.” Nevertheless, the data system continued to count the number of whites, blacks, and Indians. When large numbers of immigrants from Asia and from Eastern and Southern Europe began coming to the United States, the demand for more information on race, ancestry, ethnicity, and languages rose, and new categories were added. A category for Chinese was added in 1870, and, as more immigrants from East Asia came to this country, other categories (e.g., Japanese, Hindu, and Korean) were added as well. In recognition of the fact that increasing numbers of Hispanic immigrants had established themselves and their families in this country, the 1970 census added a separate question on Hispanic origin.1 As can be seen from Table 2-1 (see Chapter 2), the number of racial categories continued to grow, and by 1990 there were 15 separate categories plus a separate question with four categories for Hispanic origin (Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, other Hispanic).
In addition, methods of collecting census data changed, with mail increasingly substituting for direct enumeration. By 1960 the Census Bureau began some data collection by mail, and data collection by telephone was used both to conduct entire surveys and to supplement mail collection. These changes obviously made enumerator observation of race impossible. As a result, the manner in which race was determined in government censuses and surveys changed. Today, the household member responding to the questionnaire or survey is asked to identify his or her own race/ethnicity and in some cases that of other members of the household as well.2
In the 1960s and 1970s, civil rights laws—such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banning discrimination in employment and public accommodations, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968—were passed to prohibit the exclusion of disadvantaged racial groups from social and economic privileges. The emergence of the new legislation re-
Table 2-1 shows that the 1930 census included Mexicans as a race, but the category was dropped in later censuses. (See Chapter 2 for a fuller explanation.)
The issue of self-identification versus interviewer observation is discussed more fully in Chapter 2.