Obama’s Census-Form Choice: ‘Black’

Oscar Avila, Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2010

An individual’s responses to census questions are confidential, but one of President Obama’s answers on the 10-question form adds more fodder to the ongoing conversation about how America sees itself.

After media inquiries, the White House confirmed that Obama checked only the racial box that says: “Black, African Am., or Negro,” the Associated Press reported.

Obama could have checked more than one racial box, given that his father was an African from Kenya and his mother was a white woman from Kansas. He could have checked “white” as well, or even “some other race” and written in “multiracial.”

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The news quickly made the rounds among not only political commentators but citizens with mixed racial ancestry. Some second-guessed Obama’s choice while others said there are no right or wrong answers to that question.

Michelle Hughes, president of the Chicago Biracial Family Network, said she received several e-mails from surprised friends within moments of Obama’s decision being made public.

“I think everybody is entitled to self-identify. If he chooses to self-identify as African American, that’s his right,” she said. “That being said, I think that the multiracial community feels a sense of disappointment that he refuses to identify with us.

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