restricted access 8. Invisible Hybrids under the U.S. Census

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E I G H T Invisible Hybrids under the U.S. Census The point o f thi s boo k i s not tha t w e should abando n catego ries . A lega l syste m withou t categorie s i s impossible , an d a society withou t a lega l syste m invite s anarchy . I f on e thin g i s clear about American society , it is that it always will be dependent upon a legal system that relies heavily on categories. The poin t o f thi s boo k i s not tha t categorie s ar e inherentl y harmful an d destructive . Categorie s ca n b e very importan t t o self-identity a s wel l a s t o politica l coalition-building . I n addi tion , th e forma l us e o f categorie s withi n th e lega l syste m ca n provide a foundatio n o f fairnes s an d justic e b y insurin g tha t decisions ar e no t mad e i n a n entirel y subjectiv e an d biase d manner. The point of this book is that the legal system is overly reliant on bipolar categories. By focusing our intention on hybrids, we can se e th e awkwardness , unfairness , an d injustic e cause d b y such a bipola r lega l system . We ca n brea k dow n thi s needles s bipolarity by adding more individualized decisionmaking to the legal system while not entirel y displacin g the use of categories . Sometimes, breaking dow n thi s bipolarity wil l cause us to ad d new categorie s such as bisexual, transsexual, or multiracial. At 233 234 Invisible Hybrids under the U.S. Census other times, it will help us to focus ou r attentio n o n whom w e want t o devot e ou r attentio n o r resource s withi n suc h a category a s African-American o r female . Ye t at other times, it will cause us to see the stark differences i n justice that are accorded to peopl e wh o li e o n on e en d o f th e bipola r spectru m (e.g. , whites, men , o r heterosexuals ) an d t o peopl e wh o li e o n th e other en d (e.g. , blacks , women , o r homosexuals) . A focus o n the bipolarit y o f ou r lega l syste m ca n therefor e broade n ou r vision enormously. A curren t politica l issu e tha t ca n illuminat e th e centra l themes o f thi s boo k i s the controvers y concernin g th e inaccu racy and even disrespectful natur e of the U.S. census data collection o n race . A census ha s bee n with u s since the founding o f our country. Article I, Section z of the Constitution requires an enumeration o f al l "fre e Persons , includin g thos e boun d t o Service for a Term o f Years , and excludin g Indians not taxed , three fifths of all other Persons." The U.S. decision to require a census followe d a well-established Europea n traditio n o f gath ering statistics abou t it s people. Statistics and state come fro m the sam e root , becaus e statistic s wer e historicall y a mean s o f "ascertaining th e political strengt h o f a country."1 Th e powe r to collec t statistic s ca n includ e th e powe r t o dominat e a citi zenry ; thus, the story of a census is important to understandin g the power of the state. The first enumeration in the United States took place in 1780, and ever y te n year s thereafter. I t inquired whethe r individual s were fre e whit e male s ove r sixteen , fre e whit e male s unde r sixteen, fre e whit e females , al l othe r fre e persons , o r slaves. 2 The question s concerne d statu s rather tha n race . Enumeratio n occurred on a family basis; individuals were enumerated as they related t o th e hea d o...


Subject Headings

  • Discrimination -- Law and legislation -- United States.
  • Minorities -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • Sexual orientation -- United States.
  • Law -- Social aspects -- United States.
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