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The 2020 Census, Next Steps and a Heartfelt Thanks. Read More.

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Why does the Census Bureau collect information on race?

Information on race is required for many Federal programs and is critical in making policy decisions, particularly for civil rights. States use these data to meet legislative redistricting principles. Race data also are used to promote equal employment opportunities and to assess racial disparities in health and environmental risks.

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How should I answer the question on race?

An individual’s response to the race question is based upon self-identification. The Census Bureau does not tell individuals which boxes to mark or what heritage to write in.

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What does the Census Bureau mean by race?

The Census Bureau collects race data in accordance with guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and these data are based on self-identification. The racial categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country, and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically or genetically. People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as “American Indian” and “White.” People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race. In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include both racial and national origin or socio-cultural groups. You may choose more than one race category.

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How should multiracial individuals respond to the question on race?

An individual’s response to the race question is based upon self-identification. The Census Bureau does not tell individuals which boxes to mark or what heritage to write in. For the first time in Census 2000, individuals were presented with the option to self-identify with more than one race and this continues with the 2010 Census. People who identify with more than one race may choose to provide multiple races in response to the race question. For example, if a respondent identifies as "Asian" and "White," they may respond to the question on race by checking the appropriate boxes that describe their racial identities and/or writing in these identities on the spaces provided.

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