News Tip: New Census Data may be Misleading

Census responses may reflect self-perceptions more than changing minority population percentages, says Duke professor


New U.S. census data showing that Hispanics have edged past blacks may be somewhat misleading, says Duke University researcher William Darity Jr.

"Many Hispanics in the U.S. are of African ancestry, particularly those from Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico, but our studies show that as a group, they rarely self-identify as black," says Darity, a research professor of public policy studies, African and African-American studies and economics at Duke's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

"The difference between self-classification and social classification of race is especially important to consider among Latinos," Darity says. "Census data provide only information on self-classification." As a result, the numbers do not accurately reflect the many Latinos who would be considered black by social classification.

Darity is co-author of two recent papers, "Passing on Blackness: Latinos, Race and Earnings in the USA," and "Bleach in the Rainbow: Latin Ethnicity and Preference for Whiteness." He also is Boshamer Professor of Economics and director of the Institute of African American Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Darity may be reached for additional comment by calling (919) 613-7336 or (919) 962-6810.

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