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As Long as We Remember...

January 15, 2010

Separation of Race and State

Joe Charlebois

This year April 1st, our constitutionally required decennial enumeration of citizens – the census – will begin. As from the beginning more than simple counting of heads will take place. This year’s census form will include 10 questions, including the required accounting for each member of the household.


The original census tallies did not count all persons. Those that were excluded included those Native American Indians who did not pay federal taxes. Non-free Blacks were not counted as full persons. And not until they achieved their freedom through the Emancipation Proclamation and subsequent ratification of the 14th Amendment did those now “free” Blacks count as a whole person instead of the “3/5ths” of a person designation.


For reasons of proper apportionment, the first censuses needed to consider race as a critical factor in deciding population. The states counted on the Constitution’s mandate to assure proper representation in the House of Representatives and the subsequent power that accompanied those members.


Since the 1870 Census accurate representation of our population has not required the disclosure of race as a necessary component. It is the legislature that is responsible for any additional inquiries above the actual headcount per household. It is the legislature that looks at us in shades of brown. It is antithetical to the concept of the individual to divide the nation into groups.


Power is easier to grab if one group can be pitted against another for electoral support.


This information gathered through the census does nothing but remove the “color-blind” glasses and reveals that we are not Americans, but Native-Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, White, Hispanic, non-white Hispanic, Black or African-American.


What a disgrace!



With the continuing mixture of ethnicities over the past several decades, who is to say what “race” someone is? Unlike other countries like Brazil, the United States census only offers other as an option. There is no designation for “mixed” parentage, nor should there be. We are American citizens, and since the 14th amendment established all citizens as “whole” persons, there should be no need for race or ethnicity as a distinguishing characteristic.


The federal government claims that these questions are asked so that federal funding – our tax dollars – can be distributed properly. The data are used for funding, implementing and evaluating of programs. The questions are also used for the redrawing of congressional districts – some based entirely on the skin color of the citizenry.


Officials are elected to represent their district. They are not sent to Congress to represent their “white” district or their “Black or Hispanic” district. They work for all the people. It is abhorrent to think that a district has to be gerrymandered to properly represent the constituents residing within it. Those who believe in this method of redistricting are the epitome of elitism.


American servicemen and women, who are serving in Afghanistan and other hotspots across the globe, don’t care what color their fellow soldier’s skin is, they just want to know that their “brother” will have their back when it comes to crunch time.


We all bleed red. Continued division of our citizens by those claiming that diversity is our strength have forgotten how assimilation is what brought our country together through the massive immigration flow at the turn of last century, the depression and World War II.


The question of race in the census does nothing but divide us. It continues to differentiate us on the sole basis of the color of our skin.


“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...”


Our creator doesn’t judge us by skin color! Why should we?


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