Sunday, July 29, 2012

Casey Doesn't Get It: The Multiracial Advocacy

We have received a response from the Annie E. Casey Foundation because of our complaint (see last blog post). Either they just don’t understand, or they are deliberately excluding multiracial children.

The rather chilling response indicates that they take their data “collected by birth and death certificates at the state level.” That is the absolutely worst way to collect data on multiracial children. Most often, the parent is not asked the race of the baby at birth, and it is written on the baby’s chart by an attending nurse or doctor at the birth. Thousands of women over the years have told me they were never asked the race of their multiracial child until they started school. The fact is that in most states, race of the child is not even on the birth certificate and other times it only has the race of the parents.

What about those death certificates? A dead person cannot self-identify their race. Funeral home employees “eyeball” the person and write down a race—usually only one race.

The next Casey Foundation problem is that if they asked the right questions, they would get the right and most accurate data. In other words, they have admitted to only allowing one choice for “the five largest racial categories.” So if they don’t allow people to mark two or more, they haven’t asked question the right way to begin with. They are using inaccurate data.

The response from The Casey Foundation baffles me because they can get better data from the US Census Bureau, The American Community Survey and schools. The federal government ordered federal agencies to comply with check two or more boxes in 1997. Casey is a private foundation and they do not have to do what the federal government does, but what ever happened to doing the right thing?

Their response concludes by saying they will “explore” revisiting the categories for the 2013 publication and then they abruptly dismiss us. Oh really? There will be more to this story.


  1. so we only count once we're dead?

  2. Multiracial people are often recorded as one race at birth and another race at death, which is one reason it makes that data so useless.

  3. Wow! This saddens me as a parent of a biracial child.

    Although I expected to be given a selection to choose from on the form that I filled out to register for my daughter's birth certificate (back in 2001), I was surprised that this was no longer the case.

    On school forms, I check both categories, or write biracial on the form. My husband just checks Hispanic. At least he doesn't think that just because her Mom is African-American that his child is.

    I, on the other hand, teach my daughter that she is neither African-American nor Hispanic, but both. She massages it whole-heartedly.

    When teachers assume through their dialogue with Kelly that she is African-American, they are corrected. One teacher said to us, "Kelly is so smart, she'll be our next African-American President." Although this teacher was being very kind in her own way, I had to correct her.

    I have said that it is okay if a child chooses to be one race over another, as sometimes they vacillate, it is never my desire for my child to do so.

    I understand that our Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, identifies himself as African-American as does most of society, and that is his choice and/or business, but I have often wondered why he has chosen to do so.

    There is lots of work to be done still.

    Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.