Census 2000 adheres to the Federal standards for collecting and presenting data on race and Hispanic origin as established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in October 1997.
The OMB defines Hispanic or Latino as "a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race." In data collection and presentation, Federal agencies are required to use a minimum of two ethnicities: "Hispanic or Latino" and "Not Hispanic or Latino."
Starting with Census 2000, the OMB requires Federal agencies to use a minimum of five race categories:
• Black or African American;
• American Indian or Alaska Native;
• Asian; and
• Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
For respondents unable to identify with any of these five race categories, the OMB approved including a sixth category — "Some other race" — on the Census 2000 questionnaire. The category Some other race is used in Census 2000 and a few other Federal data collection activities. As discussed later, most respondents who reported Some other race are Hispanic.
The "Other Race" Creates A Problem
Evaluating Census 2000 and its results, Mr. Kincannon reported that an increasing number of
people chose to identify as “some other race,” which is now the third largest race group in the
United States according to census results.6 This presents a challenge because many federal
programs do not include such a category in their data collection. He explained that the
Census Bureau had intended to drop the “some other race” category for the 2010 Census, but will now include it in response to congressional mandate. In 2000, of those who identifiedthemselves solely as “some other race,” 97 percent were Hispanic or Latino. In fact, 42 percent of Hispanics that identified their race selected “some other race.” Although 46
percent indicated they were white, many Hispanics did not answer the race question. The census did not capture the detailed Hispanic origin groups, such as Mexican, Puerto Rican or Cuban.
With these results in mind, the Census Bureau has worked to improve race/Hispanic origin
questions for the 2010 Census.7 Test censuses have examined 1) the need for examples of
Hispanic origin and race questions; 2) reducing the number of checkboxes for the major race
categories; 3) providing simple yes/no responses for the Hispanic origin question;
4) including a separate tribal enrollment question for American Indians and Alaska Natives;
and 5) including a modified ancestry question that would elicit specific race and Hispanic
origin groups as well as other ancestries such as German, French, or Scotch-Irish.
The Prevailing "Race" Of Mexico
In the 1921 Census, however, the government did include a question about racial identification. Some 60% of the population identified themselves as being of mixed racial descent, 30% as indigenous, and 10% as white.
The large majority of Mexicans can be classified as "Mestizos", meaning that they neither identify fully with any indigenous culture or with a particular non-Mexican heritage, but rather identify as having cultural traits and heritage that is mixed by elements from indigenous and European traditions. By the deliberate efforts of post-revolutionary governments the "Mestizo identity" was constructed as the base of the modern Mexican national identity, through a process of cultural synthesis referred to as mestizaje. Mexican politicians and reformers such as Jose Vasconcelos and Manuel Gamio were instrumental in building a Mexican national identity on the concept of mestizaje.
The category of "indígena" (indigenous) can be defined narrowly according to linguistic criteria including only persons that speak one of Mexicos 62 indigenous languages, this is the categorization used by the National Mexican Institute of Statistics. It can also be defined broadly to include all persons who selfidentify as having an indigenous cultural background, whether or not they speak the language of the indigenous group they identify with. This means that the percentage of the Mexican population defined as "indigenous" varies according to the definition applied.
Sometimes, particularly outside of Mexico, the word "mestizo" is used with the meaning of a person with mixed Indigenous and European blood. This usage does not conform to the Mexican social reality where a person of pure indigenous genetic heritage would be considered Mestizo either by rejecting his indigenous culture or by not speaking an indigenous language, and a person with a very low percentage of indigenous genetic heritage would be considered fully indigenous either by speaking an indigenous language or by identifying with a particular indigenous cultural heritage