Race and ethnicity categories

In this assessment, we use race and ethnicity categories established by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau defines the categories in the following way. The brief name we use in this assessment for each group is in parenthesis.

  • American Indian or Alaska Native (Native people): A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.
  • Asian (Asian people): A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Black or African American (Black people): A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
  • Hispanic or Latino (Hispanic/Latino people): A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
  • White (White people): A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

The Census Bureau explains:

The race and ethnicity categories generally reflect social definitions in the U.S. and are not an attempt to define race and ethnicity biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. We recognize that the race and ethnicity categories include racial, ethnic, and national origins and sociocultural groups.

How we ask respondents to indicate their race and ethnicity

Our approach to asking respondents what racial/ethnic group they are a part of is based on a "combined question approach" which is being considered for use in future censuses and which some researchers believe is more effective than the "separate questions approach" which was used in the 2020 Census. For details, see this paper.

Other Key Terms

The following are some quick definitions of other key terms used in the assessment.

  • Interracial: Involving interactions between people in different racial groups.
  • Multiracial people: Individuals who are a part of two or more racial groups.
  • People of color: Individuals who are understood to NOT ONLY have ancestors from Europe.
  • Racial group: A collection of people who are perceived to share geographical ancestry and biological characteristics such as facial features, skin tone, hair color, etc.
  • Racial equity: A condition in which a person’s race does not provide them with advantages or disadvantages.
  • Racial identity: A person’s sense of connection to their racial group.
  • Racial inclusion: A condition in which individuals in all racial groups are an integral part of a group, community, or nation.
  • Racial justice: A condition in which people in all racial groups receive equitable (fair) opportunities and outcomes.
  • Racism: A system of advantage based on race.
  • Reparations: Seeking to correct the damages caused by the history of racism in the U.S.
  • Undocumented immigrants: Individuals born outside of the U.S. who are living in the U.S. without receiving permission (documentation) by the government.