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Proposed Revisions to Federal Racial and Ethnic Classifications: A Reconstruction of Race? Open Access

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The United States collects racial and ethnic data unlike any other nation in the world. The Office of Management and Budget has convened an interagency working group composed of nearly 100 Federal government employees in order to evaluate whether it is time to update the Federal statistical standards for the collection of racial and ethnic data, which currently maintain five minimum racial categories and two ethnic categories. The two major revisions being closely examined include combining the race and ethnicity question into one measure and adding a Middle Eastern or North African racial category. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the perceived positive and negative implications for different racial groups with the proposed revisions of the racial classification standards. It examined two distinct points of view—the Federal government decision makers and the leaders of racial and ethnic minority groups well-versed in the implications of any changes to their group definitions. This study sought to understand how these two groups conceptualized the proposed revisions and explored whether they believed the revisions will either improve or hinder the validity and utility of this nation’s racial and ethnic data.

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