New York Times uses “Multiracial”

The New York Times published an analysis on August 24 titled, “Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago.” They made their affirmative action arguments based on the results. We are very glad that the Times used the term “Multiracial” when describing students who utilized either a multiracial classification or check two or more races.

One of the goals of Project RACE since the 1990s has been to work with schools, companies, medical institutions, and other data users to utilize the correct and respectful terminology of “multiracial” on forms that require people to indicate their race(s). The ability to check more than one race was not regulated by the US Department of Education until 2008. We have worked with many educational levels, companies like Apple and Estee Lauder, and large and small medical institutions, including health insurance companies, to use the proper terminology. We have been successful.

The article and accompanying analysis pointed out that “A category for multiracial students, introduced in 2008, has slightly reduced the share of black students.” However, they do not reveal how they came to that conclusion. Data from Pew Research, the Census Bureau, and other data users do not come to that same conclusion. Most people who now are able to indicate their entire heritage used to, by and large, use the “Other” category.

The multiracial population is rapidly growing. Ten years ago it was common to see multiracial numbers below three percent. Now, it is not uncommon to see upwards of six percent. An example they gave was for Harvard University, where the breakdown is White 47%, Asian 24%, Hispanic 13%, Black 8%, and Multiracial 7%. For UCLA, the breakdown is Asian 35%, White 31%, Hispanic 24%, Multiracial 6%, and Black 3%. Vassar College had 64% White, 13% Asian, Hispanic 13%, Multiracial 7% and Black 4%.

The multiracial population should always be included on forms that require racial and ethnic identity. We have come a long way, but Project RACE will continue to monitor and take corrective action where data is utilized in any way.

Susan Graham