TALK: What is Your Race? — And Why the Government Should Ask

Kenneth Prewitt (Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs and Director of The Scholarly Knowledge Project, Columbia University)
Wednesday, November 13 / 4:00 PM
Mosher Alumni House

What is Your Race? (Princeton University Press, 2013) traces the tortured history of government race statistics from 1790 to the present.  Across three-fourths of that history, policy purposes dictated the measurement strategy (e.g., the three-fifths clause).  In the Civil Rights Era, however, policy (statistical proportionality, disparate impact) was shaped in terms of the statistics available.  Today’s demographic transformation and demands for identity expression, however, cannot be satisfied with categories left over from the 18th century.  Different purposes mean different questions.  Change is easy to recommend, difficult to bring about.  Change in the census race question must work in the census environment (technically feasible) and must overcome congressional resistance (politically acceptable).  What is Your Race? concludes with recommendations meeting these criteria.

Kenneth Prewitt is the Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs and the Vice-President for Global Centers at Columbia University. Prewitt’s professional career also includes: Director of the United States Census Bureau, Director of the National Opinion Research Center, President of the Social Science Research Council, and Senior Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Sponsored by the IHC’s Identity Studies RFG, the IHC, the Center for New Racial Studies, the Department of Political Science, and Broom Center for Demography.

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