How to Find Your Race on the Census
The 2020 Census is here, and it is time to fill it out! I was very excited to receive the census letter and fill it out for the first time. What I was most excited about is finally correctly filling out my race. A lot of people, especially in the Latinx community, don’t know what race they fall under. Over the years, I have resorted to checking the White race box because my race wasn’t listed, and frankly, I didn’t know what I was supposed to check. Knowing how important it is that the census have accurate results so that resources get properly allocated to all communities, I wanted to make sure I knew how to properly answer the race and ethnicity questions. Here is how I found out my race and how to mark it on the census.
The first thing I did was understand the difference between race and ethnicity. This is important to understand especially if you are Hispanic or Latinx. The Census Bureau defines race as a person’s self-identification with one or more social groups. On the census, an individual can report as White, Black or African American, Asian, American Indian and Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, or some other race. Survey respondents may report multiple races. Ethnicity determines whether a person is of Hispanic or Latinx origin or not. For this reason, ethnicity is broken out in two categories, Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. Hispanics and Latinx may report as any race.
The next thing I did to figure out my race is to talk to my family. I recommend talking to your parents, grandparents, and your oldest living relative. Ask them where your family is from. If you can’t ask your family or they don’t know, there are other ways to learn more about your race. Go to a Genealogy Center, which is a library for family history records. Currently, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City is closed, but they do have online resources available and are doing some online classes and webinars. Another way to learn about your race and ethnicity is by doing a DNA analysis like 23andMe or AncestryDNA. Keep in mind that this is not free and you might have to wait a couple months for results, but this will give you the breakdown of your race.
Once you have all this information, it will become much clearer on what race to mark. To those who are curious, my race is Native American from the Mayan tribe. Finding your accurate race may take some time, but do your research, because in the end, it’s worth finding out where you come from. If you are still unsure how to fill out the race section of the census, just do the best you can! The most important thing is that you are counted!