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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Census Sense

We received our government census the other day, and as I sat and filled it out, a very odd feeling came over me. Our government; why do they want, and pretend to need, this information? Is it really any of their business who lives in our home? Why do they need to know the precise, full names of me, my husband -- my children -- our exact ages, and birth dates?

Answers required by law? That seems a bit creepy, all by itself.

But then, the only other piece of information they want is the color of our skin. What does that have to do with anything?

Oh, I know they divide it up into nationalities – for some – but is that better? Does it matter what country our great-great grandparents came from? Does that rationalize the question somehow?

With this information -- that five “white” people live in our home – what are they going to do? Is it going to determine whether our area gets money, or services? If our parents were Hispanic, would that make a difference? Seriously, people are people – do we count more or less because of this information?

And – hear me out, I’m ranting now -- can I complain about calling a skin color “white” – nobody really has “white” skin, just like nobody really has “black” skin.

As I pondered this aloud, my youngest daughter said “Why do they care what color your skin is? What does it matter? -- they should ask you what color your eyes are – or what is your favorite color.”

That made me smile; and gives me hope. Maybe – someday soon, just maybe – forms like these, they’ll include in their “race” selection a box simply marked “HUMAN” -- for those of us trying to erase those illusions of separateness.




  1. we let our 6 year old fill it out. what gets me is the cost involved--we got a follow up letter to our letter asking us if we had filled it out. that's wasteful and it annoyed me. I don't know what they do with that data; it would be nice to know.


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