How and why does the U.S. Census determine what race is–and should mean–in the United States? The first Census Bureau identified three races: “Free white males/females, all other free persons, and slaves.” Over time, dozens of newly discovered “races” have entered–and exited–the Census. In 2016, the Bureau proposed adding a new Census 2020 race category: “MENA”. Recently, it abruptly reversed course. This talk, titled “Creating an American Myth: How the U.S. Census Uses Social Science and Stereotype to Define Race in America”, situates these evolving race definitions against political, cultural, and legal developments over time, and highlights social-science methodologies that shaped the 2020 Census “race” categories–for perhaps the most important Census of our lifetime.
Hosea H. Harvey is Associate Professor of Law and Political Science (by courtesy) at Temple University. His articles have appeared in an array of publications and have been cited by The New York Times and other media sources. Using both qualitative and empirical methods, he specializes in analyzing the design, implementation, and effectiveness of laws, public policies, and regulations that impact vulnerable populations.