Should Children be Racialized?


The No Child Left Behind Act requires children’s race with test scores to be tallied so that no race is left behind. I have always thought test scores should be tallied by zip code, not by race. But maybe, as Dr. Cornel West alludes to, maybe students should not be tested at all. He says that rich students are taught and poor students are tested.

When my daughter entered kindergarten the race question was on the registration form. I asked the secretary what would happen if I left the race question blank. She said the teacher would fill in the race question for me, because it is required by law. So, my wife and I decided to fill in Latina (only one race was allowed at the time). However, they have since changed the rules and now allow more than one race to be checked, so my son will be tallied as Latino & White.

I used to be completely against all these race labels, but I found out (thank you Steven Riley of Mixed Race Studies) that the 1964 Civil Rights Act requires tracking race in order to track disparities in hiring, and housing discrimination. And the Southern Poverty Law Center has filed law suites based on racial discrimination. They have found that schools punish Black and Latino students more harshly (suspension) for the same infraction where White and Asian students are not punished with suspension.

PS – the day my children were born we were asked what race we are so it could be marked down on our children’s birth certificates. We live in California. The law may be different in different states. I seem to recall that sometimes that parent’s race is put down, sometimes the children’s race is put down. I’m not sure that there is a state where no race is put down. Also, if you were not asked about race, the nurse may have looked at you, your spouse, and your child and wrote it down without asking.


3 thoughts on “Should Children be Racialized?

  1. Thaddeus Radzilowski May 18, 2015 / 3:07 pm

    Latino/Hispanic is not a race . It is, for the Census Bureau, the only “Ethnicity” in the United States. All other Ethnicities that are not races, are “Ancestries”. The majority of people who identify as “Hispanic/Latino” also say they are “white” (whatever that is. It includes, as we know, Swedes, Greeks Arabs, Poles, Finns, Argentines etc.Only “Asian”.-which means you come from the Eastern end of Eurasia and the Islands beyond, is more absurd) The second most frequently chosen “racial” identity by “Hispanic/Latino persons is “Some other Race”. The number of Hispanics/Latinos who say they are :white” increases each census, in part a fucntion of acculturatrion in the U.S. Brazilians are not Hispanic or Latino to the Census Bureau.They exist in an odd limbo. The only “Race” that makes some sense is Black/African American. It denotes a people identified by African ancestry, Skin color, history and culture or sub-culture (It is the most American of cultures). It only partially encompasses immigrants from the Caribean or Africa and their progeny most of whom do insist on their distinct national, ancestral or ethnic identities on Census surveys.


    • Some would say the concept of race makes no sense at all, while others think it makes perfect sense to say there are five races. Best book on this is ‘The Nature of Race’, by Ann Morning.


  2. Jenny Hammond May 17, 2015 / 6:12 pm

    When the U.S. Census started asking about family structure (adopted, step-, etc.), I know a lot of adult adoptees felt the same way. “Why do they need to know?” But I do think it is useful to have the “Big Data” on hand if/when you need it. I’m just thankful that they allow you to check more than one “race” box now…as a mixed Asian, it never seemed right to check “Other.”

    Liked by 1 person

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