Many Latinos Do Not Identify With Current Census' Race Categories

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WASHINGTON — It long has been assumed by sociologists that Latinos eventually would be redefined as "white" as they joined the mainstream, but the Census Bureau now wants to classify Latinos as their own distinct group in the next census, in 2020.

The proposal is based on census research that finds many Latinos do not identify with the current race categories.

One possible revision, urged by Kenneth Prewitt, a former bureau director, would drop the word "race" from the census form altogether, simply offering a set of check boxes for categories such as black, white and Hispanic that is preceded by the question, "Are you ...?"

"Whether we're tabulating by income or poverty, Hispanic is treated as a de facto race," said Roberto Ramirez, chief of the Census Bureau's ethnicity and ancestry branch, in an interview. As it stands now, he says, many Latinos are checking "some other race."

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