Race Check Box: Can’t Pick Just One

What to do when your race
falls within two?

Image by M.Adcock
Elaine, a Chinese-American mother of two married to a Caucasian man, encountered a dilemma when registering her son for kindergarten. The New Jersey mom noticed that the race section of the form allowed parents to choose only one race check box.

“I found myself facing my first cultural dilemma,” Elaine explained. “Do I check Caucasian, Asian, or Other? I didn’t like that I had to choose ONE. I polled my Facebook friends who are mixed and got answers like, ‘I check other’ or ‘I check what will benefit my situation the most.’ Some identified with one race more than the other depending on how they were raised.”

I have not had to deal with this situation yet as my toddler is only 2 years old, but I know one day a similar situation will occur. In my previous post The Minority Majority Future of America I included stats that indicated minorities were growing at a faster rate than Whites. The stats also showed the growth of interracial marriages. With these trends apparent, why do forms still force people to choose one race box?

The good news is that the U.S. government has acknowledge this growth. Since 2000 the Census has allowed respondents to check all races that applied. The Census takes place only every 10 years so we’re not talking about everyday forms, but it’s a start.

How do you handle the race check box if you’re biracial?
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02168972187767598077 Amberr

    I check both boxes, and I refuse to check at all if I can’t, unless it’s mandatory.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00442759988114460965 Nikki @ Mommy Factor

    Huh, here in NYC I thought they allowed you to check all that applies. I know some forms are being updated to follow you to specific. Either way I check all the races for my son. If it’s an old form then I check other and fill in his races.

  • http://triplethreatmommy.com/ Pam at TripleThreatMommy.com

    This is interesting. I am 100% Asian, so I don’t have an issue. It’ll be interesting for our girls who are Asian + Caucasian. I can’t seem to remember what I had done in the past for them, but I’d do what Nikki did: either check “other” or all the races that apply to them. I hope the government catches on soon and updates the forms…otherwise they’ll never get a true picture of what this country looks like.

  • http://downtowntraveler.com/ Leslie

    I’m surprised they still have forms like this. Ten years ago when I was in college, there was a student group called “Check One” for bicultural students and they campaigned against this practice. When the Census started allowing more than one racial option, I would think other organizations would follow suit. Guess smaller outfits haven’t caught on, even 10+ years after!