Census-Let them know you are Basque!

From Joe Guerricabeitia of Seattle Euskal Etxea — I thought it worth sharing:

Kaixo danori (Hello everyone),

This email is being sent to you to serve as reminder to remember your heritage as you sit down to fill out your 2010 US Census. As in censuses past, this year’s census asks both about 1) Ethnicity and 2) Race. As has been the case in the past the US government convolutes “Spaniards” with “Hispanics” even though any History, Chicano Studies, or Spanish student (like myself) would tell you is technically incorrect. That being the case the ethnicity question specifically asks if one considers themself Hispanic but then allows for a selection of “Hispanic, other” which is a broad category that includes “Spaniards” and allows for a fill-in-the-blank where “Basque” can be written. Even for our brothers and sisters from across the border in France this seems like the best way to articulate being Basque (certainly not a perfect system). In fact this seems to be the only way. Race then refers to ones “social and cultural characteristics” which by the US census definition describes Basque ancestry as “White” (see below).

It is important to fill out the Census accurately and completely because it is the most database of information for demographics of age, sex, ethnicity, race etc that is drawn from every time in the next year that any US federal, state or local agency requires such data as well as many non-governmental agencies. As one Professor put it, “…an accurate count of the U.S. population forms the basis for many important but often overlooked political, economic, and social decisions that are made that end up affecting our daily lives.” — C.N. Le, Professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst-from http://2010.census.gov/2010census/why/index.php Accessed 03/18/10

For more information on the 2010 Census check out:

The US Census Bureau

and for more information on definitions and the Census in general check out the Wiki page at:

  • White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as “White” or report entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish.”[9]

Eskerrik asko,


3 thoughts on “Census-Let them know you are Basque!”

  1. Joe wrote me to add:

    One final clarification for which a few have asked:

    1) The census is confusing and even in a country of immigrants where mixed heritage and race is the norm the census attempts to bucket people into groups. This is why I sent my e-mail in the first place…to help navigate the “bucketing”

    2a) If you are “lucky” like me your answer to the question # 8 of the census is only one (1) convoluted answer:
    Question 8. Is Person 1 (2, 3, 4…) of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin? Answer: Yes, another Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.
    Fill in the blank with: Basque
    Question 9. What is Person 1 (2, 3, 4…)’s race?
    Answer: White

    2b) If like so many of us you happen to be the product of more than one heritage (this is America, right? I’d say this is pretty much the norm) then your answer becomes more convoluted than 2a.

    Question 8. Is Person 1 (2, 3, 4…) of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin? Answer: Yes, another Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.
    Fill in the blank with : ____% Basque & ____%Heritage 2, etc…
    Question 9. What is Person 1 (2, 3, 4…)’s race?
    Answer: Depending on your ethic background this could again be White or any of the other choices. If you are of mixed race check Some other race and fill in the blanks accordingly.

    3) If you aren’t Basque at all the same rules apply. Take credit for your rich cultural heritage. We’re all American, but we all came from somewhere else and the census and everyone who uses this data for the next 10 years will be working off the answers to the questions we make today.

  2. Kaixo guztiok!
    Izurkin bat bakarrik galdekizun bat bezala.
    Just a comment in the form of a question. Recently as I remember having read Joe Guerricabeitia’s message (all the way from Seattle) I came across another one from Argitxu Camus-Etchecopar about Basque identity in the U.S. Its reflection in American society, its evolution as a Diaspora identity etc, and precisely from an extract of William A. Douglass’, article “Basque American Identity” and I quote:

    (in his article) “Calculating Ethnicity through U.S. Census,” explains how in 1980, for the first time, the U.S. Bureau of the Census decided to include a question that permitted respondents to specify their ancestral background. Douglass was contacted by the Census Bureau and after much discussion and debate the category of “Basque” was included in the U.S. Census form, with a distinction for “French Basque”, “Spanish Basque” and “Basque n.e.c” (not elsewhere classified). In 1980, about 40,000 individuals reported Basque ancestry, 47,000 people in 1990, and 58,000 people in 2000. Among these, in 1980, 47% opted for the category Basque n.e.c, when 70% of them opted for that same category in 1990. We can thus see a profound shift toward a generic Basque identity among Basque Americans. Douglass advances a reason to that: “I would be inclined to ascribe it mainly to what might be called the “NABO effect.”

    So here is where I would like to pose the question ( or several I guess considering my puzzle 🙂
    If the the U.S. Census is the best actual, measurement, or legal record that can positively identify (for all practical purposes) Basque American Identity, then in my humble opinion according to the options of previous years the most current one (2010) is flawed in truly identifying it, since it denies the alternative to many who choose not see themselves as Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin. Individuals who may choose to view themselves not as “Spanish Basques” but as “peninsular Basques” and thus also eliminating ( ( by default according thius years’ census) those others on the north side of the Pyrenees who may regard themselves as “continental Basques”. I think these terms are preferred by most Basques ( both side of the Auñamendi mountains)

    What ever happened to the distinction for “French Basque”, “Spanish Basque” and “Basque n.e.c” in the census? was there such a “loop-hole” for people with ancestry from “iparralde”?

    Regading Argitxu’s article I’ve always regarded Basque Clubs as a very important refereces in Basque-American identity yet Argitxu also brief me on a previous unknown fact to me regarding these, allow me to call it the the “American Euzko-etxea Federation effect” in shaping the very feeling of Basque-American identity.

    According to the segment “Toward a Basque Diasporic Identity” ………..” We are aware that NABO, although comprising most of the Basque American Clubs, does not represent the majority of the self-defined Basques in the United States. Only ten percent of this population takes part in the different Basque clubs. We have to keep in mind that 90 percent of those who feel Basque enough to self identify as Basque in the U.S. Census do not belong to any Basque club. So our study of NABO and its individual clubs represent an already highly self-selected population.”

    Does anybody know any accurate U.S. Census data accordingly?

    Eskerrik asko eta agur zintzoak!



  3. Kaixo! Jakin nahiko nuke nola funtzionatzen duen zuen erroldak. Bestald ere, lortu ditut 2000ko erroldako euskaldunen datuak, baina eguneratutako datuak beharko nituzke. Non/nola lor ditzaket?

    Eskerrik asko!

Got a comment? Let us know what you think!