FAIR News: a Public Comment on OMB's Proposed Directive
Dear Friends of FAIR,
This week, FAIR submitted a public comment in response to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) proposed update to the standards that U.S. government agencies use to collect and publish data on race and ethnicity. The update would consist of three significant changes:
U.S. agencies would begin to collect race and ethnicity data with one combined question, rather than separate questions asking for race and ethnicity.
Add “Middle Eastern or North African (MENA)” as a new racial category and edit the “white” category to remove MENA from its definition.
Redefine “Hispanic” as a racial category.
FAIR strongly opposes each of these changes, and we urged the OMB to reconsider them. Our primary suggestion to the OMB is to fully and completely cease collecting data on individuals’ race and ethnicity altogether. If race and ethnicity data is no longer collected, the OMB will not be able to implement initiatives that are based on race and ethnicity, which often serve as a crude proxy for the actual problems that need to be comprehensively addressed.
Ideally, the federal government would aspire to implement programs based on the actual needs of individual citizens that are determined based on a wide ranging set of criteria rather than based on immutable characteristics. This would be in keeping with the spirit and substance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We also requested that an alternative check box be added to forms that simply states “Human” so that those who do not wish to categorize themselves based on skin color or ethnicity have an opportunity to express that. Should the OMB not adopt those suggestions, we subsequently offered alternative solutions in the comment that will at the very least help paint a more accurate and nuanced picture of those who fill out the form.
As a nation, we should be striving to do away with the racial classifications that have created so much harm throughout our history. Unfortunately, the OMB’s proposed directive will only further entrench this system of racial classification and perpetuate division. We hope the OMB will recognize this proposal as a mistake and rescind it immediately.
The Team at The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism
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