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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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Race Science Captures the Prize, the U.S. Census

Race Science Captures the Prize, the U.S. Census

(p.45) Chapter 4 Race Science Captures the Prize, the U.S. Census
What Is "Your" Race?

Kenneth Prewitt

Princeton University Press

This chapter narrates the race science story. Among the more important was the shift from simply counting races, as was needed to make the three-fifths policy work, to investigating characteristics considered unique to different races. The policy goal was to determine who was fit for citizenship responsibilities: whites, certainly; the American Indian, probably not; the African, clearly not. The statistical races helped fix the color line in American politics, essentially drawing policy boundaries that gradually governed all aspects of life: schooling, housing, employment, marriage, travel, and political participation. The political understanding that counting the population by race could do nationally significant policy work led naturally to a close partnership between race science and census statistics, setting the stage for what scholars call evidence-based policy 150 years later.

Keywords:   race science, races, whites, American Indian, African, American politics, evidence-based policy

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