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What Is "Your" Race?The Census and Our Flawed Efforts to Classify Americans$
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Kenneth Prewitt

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157030

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157030.001.0001

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The Compromise That Made the Republic and the Nation’s First Statistical Race

The Compromise That Made the Republic and the Nation’s First Statistical Race

(p.31) Chapter 3 The Compromise That Made the Republic and the Nation’s First Statistical Race
What Is "Your" Race?

Kenneth Prewitt

Princeton University Press

This chapter demonstrates how assumptions of racial superiority and inferiority tightly bound together statistical races, social science, and public policy. The starting point of this is constitutional language. The U.S. Constitution required a census of the white, the black, and the red races. Without this statistical compromise there would not have been a United States as it is today. In the early censuses slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person, a ratio demanded by slaveholder interests as the price of joining the Union. A deep policy disagreement at the moment of founding the nation was resolved in the creation of a statistical race. Later in American history the reverse frequently occurred. Specific policies—affirmative action, for example—took the shape they did because the statistical races were already at hand.

Keywords:   racial superiority, racial inferiority, statistical races, social science, public policy, U.S. Constitution, slaves, affirmative action

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