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Proposed race, ethnicity census checkboxes may help dismantle dangerous discrimination

Media Contact

Becka Bowyer

The Biden administration is proposing changes to forms for the 2030 census and federal government surveys that would include a new checkbox for "Middle Eastern or North African" and a "Hispanic or Latino" box.

Monica Cornejo

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication

Monica Cornejo, assistant professor at Cornell University, is an expert on the different ways in which interpersonal communication can reduce or create disparities and inequities. She says although the checkboxes are a small change, it is a step in the right direction.

Cornejo says:

“The new checkbox proposed by the Biden Administration does not only highlight the limitations of governmental forms in accurately capturing the unique identifies (and experiences) of its social citizens, but it provides an avenue to challenge the homogenization of ethnic and racial minoritizes in the United States. Indeed, the new checkbox would enable individuals to select the identity label that best describes their self-view and unique experiences, which might promote positive identity reconceptualization among these communities. 

The new proposed checkbox also provides a federally sponsored precedent for other corporations and agencies to revise the ways in which they categorize their racial and ethnic stakeholders. This is important because – historically and contemporary – the homogenization of minoritized people, based on their ethnic and racial identities, create harmful and dangerous stereotypes that place these communities at risk for persecution and discrimination from dominant group members, which can result in negative health (e.g., increased anxiety, depressive symptoms) and social (e.g., reduced sense of belonging) implications, as well as create barriers for these communities to access resources.

“Although a small change, the new checkbox is a step in the right direction in acknowledging and revising previously accepted procedures that create stigma among ethnic and racial communities.”


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