It’s been 24 years since the federal government looked at the racial classifications used by agencies like the U. S. Census Bureau. Whatever the government decides trickles down to businesses, schools, medical facilities, and others. It is important and it is not too late.

Michael Van Cleve, a Project RACE member, and attorney has filed a lawsuit in Florida. He is suing the U.S. Commerce Department, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the U.S. Census Bureau, concerning race and ethnicity data collection. If the lawsuit is successful, the agencies could be ordered by a federal court to update their race and ethnicity standards.

Van Cleve points out that classifications are outdated and that’s where Project RACE and the multiracial population comes in. The multiracial, Middle Eastern North African (MENA) and Hispanic classifications specifically are outdated, resulting in an undercount of the population of the United States.

A revision to the 1997 OMB race and ethnicity standards would likely include a panel of government personnel and stakeholders convene and hear testimony, similar to the hearings that were convened in the 1990s. Project RACE testified five times in that decision, representing the multiracial community. Our representatives are ready to contribute to this matter again and in fact, have been helping Van Cleve prepare for what may come of the lawsuit. It could be granted, dismissed, or appealed. We just do not know. What we do know is that it’s time to look at race and ethnicity again.

Susan Graham for Project RACE