The ‘Other’ Box Might Become Obsolete Soon as the U.S. Census Will Now Include ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latino’ Within Its Race Categories for the First Time in History

The ‘Other’ Box Might Become Obsolete Soon as the U.S. Census Will Now Include ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latino’ Within Its Race Categories for the First Time in History

Say goodbye to the “other” box in the U.S. Census and important documents.  

The Biden administration has revamped race and ethnicity standards, introducing significant changes to capture the diversity within the United States. For the first time, Hispanic or Latino individuals will have their own standalone category, streamlining the process and allowing respondents to select multiple options that align with their identity. 

Previously, Hispanic/Latino respondents faced a strange two-part question, prompting them to identify their ethnicity separately from their race. This new approach eliminates confusion and offers a more inclusive representation of those living in the US. 

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the two new categories will also have subcategories. These categories include Mexican, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, Cuban, Dominican, Guatemalan, and other Central or South American or Spanish cultures or origins.

Additionally, individuals of Middle Eastern or North African descent will now have their own checkbox. This change will provide an estimated 7 to 8 million people with the opportunity to accurately represent their heritage without being forced to identify as “white” or “other.” 

The updated standards reflect the evolving demographics of the United States and aim to address the shortcomings of previous data collection methods. By allowing respondents to select multiple categories and providing detailed subcategories, the new standards ensure more accurate and comprehensive data collection. 

Representation Outside of the Census

The changes extend beyond federal agencies, shaping policy, representation, and societal perspectives at all levels. Researchers, local governments, and nonprofit organizations rely on these standards to inform decision-making and address disparities. 

Moving forward, the Interagency Committee on Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards will continue to refine data collection methods, including efforts to capture accurate information on Afro-Latinos and descendants of enslaved individuals. The commitment to ongoing research reflects a dedication to accurately representing racial and ethnic landscape complexities. 

The United States is finally moving closer to building a more equitable and representative society for all. After all, “minorities” are quickly becoming the majority. 

It was about damn time we got to represent ourselves properly. 

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